8 Tips for Hiring the Right Architect

8 Tips for Hiring the Right Architect

How To
By Dikran Seferian July 07, 2022

It is hard to beat building a new home in terms of excitement. The same goes for remodeling your old home so that it changes before your eyes, transforming into something completely new that reflects your own character.

The person that will have the greatest impact on the result and success of your project is almost always the architect. Their planning will generally dictate the outcome of your home in terms of appearance, function, cost, and the length of time the project takes to complete.

Because working with an architect is very personal, it is essential you choose one that you are comfortable with. It is equally important to hire an architect with a solid reputation so that you can be completely confident the end product will be what you envisioned and within your budget. There are a handful of tips that can show you how to find the right architect.

1. Look into References and Reputation

Nearby houses that you find interesting can be a tangible source for finding a good architect.

Nearby houses that you find interesting can be a tangible source for finding a good architect.

The best architects will have the best references. Start by seeking referrals from friends, family, and coworkers that have hired an architect before. Noticed a house being built in the area that you particularly admire? It doesn’t hurt to knock on the door and ask who they hired to draw up plans. 

Once you find a potential candidate, make sure to look into that person's reputation. Consider asking for further references and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Find out whether the architect has enough repeat business, and that their work is based on integrity, precision, and professionalism. It’s also a good idea to ask about how well the architect listens. This is important since open communication is key during a project. Ensure that the architect you're choosing is open to questions. Opt for someone who not only listens but also translates your needs into the composition. 

2. Ask for Recommendations from Contractors

If you have had a good experience with other contractors in the past, then call them up and ask if there is an architect they’d recommend. Licensed contractors from all different fields generally have great advice regarding this matter. Better yet, this might help you hire an architect and a contractor that work well together so your final project comes together more smoothly. For instance, a paving contractor will handle the hardscaping accordingly while the architect deals with the rest of the structure. 

3. Look into Credentials, Experience, and Reviews

Reading online reviews can help you find the architect that suits your needs.

Reading online reviews can help you find the architect that suits your needs.

It goes without saying that an architect needs to have the required licensing to carry out projects. A good architect will not only have strong credentials but also great reviews. Start by checking with professional organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA). You may also want to keep an eye out for any complaints and negative feedback. 

Another factor to look out for when checking for an architect’s credibility is experience. As with any field, experience helps a person develop the skills and expertise required to excel in their work. The same goes for architecture. And not only are experienced architects more versed in their profession, but they may also even be more creative; this correlation is evident in the works of James Turrel and others who have been in the business for a while. 

As such, it is all the more important to hire an architect with adequate experience if the budget permits. Having said that, consider reviewing the previous projects of the architect in order to have a clear idea about the quality and creativity.   

4. Check the Architect’s Website

If you’re wondering how to find an architect who knows what they’re doing, you can learn a lot from their website. Most of those that are reputable and reliable have them these days. A great place to start is their bio to find out what their design philosophy is and what is important to them in their practice. Many architect websites also have a section reserved as a portfolio with pictures of plans and completed homes. You may also come across a few reviews left by previous clients. This way, you’ll know how to choose an architect that’s up to your standards. 

5. Specialization

Bear in mind that different architects may specialize in different architectural styles and types of construction.

Bear in mind that different architects may specialize in different architectural styles and types of construction.

Specializations tend to differ from one architect — or architectural firm — to another, each having its own style. While one may specialize in Victorian architecture, for instance, another may be an expert in the contemporary style. Specializations may also vary in terms of projects. In other words, there are several types of architects including residential, interior, and landscape. Prior to finding an architect, make sure the one you choose specializes in your style of interest and the category of your project.

In many cases, an architect will have expertise in a variety of architectural styles. This can be helpful if you have an open mind regarding the design. The versatile architect will be able to tailor a design solution that best suits your taste and requirements.

6. Consider Your Budget

The budget that you set for your project is one of the key factors that determine the end result. As with hiring a licensed contractor, it's always a good idea to pick an architect that suits your budget. However, bear in mind that stretching your budget doesn’t always ensure a satisfactory result. On the other hand, a masterpiece might come out of a tight budget. Besides the materials and design you have in mind, it all has to do with how well the architect works with the resources.

The overall cost to hire an architect will depend on the site, scope, structure, and specifications. Covering these variables with the builder and the architect from the beginning helps in putting everything into perspective. That being said, it’s important that your architect clarify the effect of each variable on your budget and the design.

7. Ensure Availability

Make sure to choose an architect who will constantly follow up with your project.

Make sure to choose an architect who will constantly follow up with your project.

Another factor to account for is whether the architect is willing to dedicate adequate time to your project and to be involved from start to finish. In most cases, an architectural form will also designate a project manager specifically for your house. Having a project manager to overlook the construction — as well as an in-house team — guarantees constant cooperation between both parties throughout the entire project. This constant availability is important if you want your house to be ready within a reasonable amount of time. What you don’t want is to hire an architect who will frequently leave your project on hold. 

8. Conduct an Interview

After you have found an architect that seems like a good fit, it is time to interview them in person. Besides providing insight, the interview may also indicate the architect’s communications skills which can be helpful later on during the project. Schedule the interview in advance and prepare a handful of important and helpful questions to ask the architect. A few of the best include:

  • May I see a few examples of your previous work?
  • What are some of the obstacles to a project such as mine?
  • What financing plans do you offer?
  • How long will the entire project take including design, obtaining permits, and construction?
  • Do you have referrals for contractors you like working with?

It is also necessary to have something of an idea of what you want your finished project to look like. And remember that it is okay to use your intuition. Even if an architect answers your questions perfectly, you can still select a different one if you get a bad vibe from them. Ultimately, these questions can clarify most of what you need to know about how to hire an architect.


Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian