How to Hire an Architect

You have reached a point, where you have done your initial planning and you have a general idea of what you need and can afford. Now, let’s find the right architect to design your dream home.

Hiring the Right Architect

You have reached a point, where you have done your initial planning and you have a general idea of what you need and can afford. Now, let’s find the right architect to design your dream home. This may be one of the most important decisions you will make during the process of building your home.

The architect will also help you source and select any other professionals needed to complete your project, such as arborists, engineers, specialty consultants, etc.

When selecting your architect, you need to decide what are your most important values:

  • Do I want a modern or a more traditional design?
  • Do I value sustainability and green design?
  • Do I see myself working with this person/firm?
  • Do they have enough time to dedicate to my project?
  • Will cost or quality of service determine my selection?
  • Will I need an architect or can I get by with a designer?

Getting Started

The task of finding the right architect might seem overwhelming in the beginning but there are a few places where you can get started.

The internet is a wonderful resource and you can search for local architects and read their reviews online. Normally, architecture firms have websites that showcase their most recent projects and describe their design process in detail. You can also go to the website of the Ontario Association of Architects and browse through the registered practices that provide services in your area.

Another method would be to reach out to friends and family that would have worked with an architect in the past and ask about their experience and if they would recommend their services again.

Questions to ask your Architect

If you are in a position where you have pre-selected a couple of architects and you are interviewing those firms before awarding the project, below are 5 important questions that you might consider asking:

How many projects are you currently working on?

Consider this important information about the commitment of that architect to your project. If that architect is involved in too many projects, that might affect the time he will be able to commit to your design. Look for architects that are excited about your project and have enough time to dedicate to your design.

What is your design process?

This is a critical question as it will reveal the parameters of your communication and relationship with the architect. It is very important, for homeowners, in particular, to ensure that the design process will be open and transparent to ensure communication flows and your aspirations are captured and heard.

The design process will also inform you how collaborative your relationship will be with the architectural firm.

What is your timeline?

Although everyone wants to break ground as fast as possible, it is important to invest enough time in the design phase to ensure you are building the home you really want and the documentation is developed with the level of detail you need.

Many times during construction, homeowners are surprised with extra costs because of items that were not captured in the architectural drawings. These mistakes happen when timelines are too tight and there is pressure to start building.

Have an honest conversation with your architect and establish a timeline that works for you, but ensure that the architect has enough time to develop his work with the necessary standard of care.

How do you charge for your services?

It is important to understand not only how much an architect charges, but also how will they be charging you for their services.

There are generally three (3) accepted and generalized methods of billing for architects: Fixed Fee, Percentage of Cost of Construction, and Hourly. Invoices can be sent either monthly or at the completion of milestones. It is important to clarify all of those details before initiating the design process.

Do you provide full services?

When selecting an architect to design your home, it is critical that you are comparing apples to apples. Therefore, ask if they are a full-service firm and what services are included in their price. Some architects will design your home and only apply for the permit and others will provide services during the entire process, helping you select the builder, ensuring and reviewing the quality of the construction, and representing you until the completion of the project.

Torres-Wright Residence in Toronto, Ontario

Final Thoughts

Hiring an architect to help you with your project is a critical step to ensuring the success of your project. Like any relationship, it is important that there is trust, transparency, and commitment to ensure everything goes smoothly.

The architect is probably the person that you will be communicating with the most. When selecting yours, make sure you can see yourself working with that person and that you have full confidence in their abilities to guide you.

I hope this article has helped you with your planning. If you have questions, book a free 30-minutes Discovery Session with Boldera Architecture. This will unlock the full potential of your project and help you develop a quick action plan. My goal is to help you develop successful projects.

About the Author
Eric Rodrigues, OAA
Eric Rodrigues, OAA

Eric is the Founder and Design Director of Boldera located in Toronto, Canada. Boldera is an award-winning architecture firm that specializes in adaptive reuse, heritage conservation, and sustainable residential. Eric’s work has been widely recognized and published, having obtained multiple national and international awards.

His design approach is deeply focused on responding to the needs of local communities while respecting the existing natural and built environments. Eric is a major sustainability advocate, and he strives when working side-by-side with clients, consultants, and community leaders to build better cities and enhance the lives of their inhabitants. He strongly believes that great architecture can positively impact communities and inspire people.

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