When starting a home build project, there are a few key questions you must ask your architect before beginning and throughout the project. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open to ensure your home is being built the way you want it to, and in order to do so, you should establish the right kind of dialogue with your architect before they’ve been selected to help build your home. Here are some questions you must ask your architect prior to and throughout your home build.
What is their experience in custom home design?
Obviously, when selecting an architect to partner with in the design and build processes of your new home, you want to be sure the architect has experience in custom home design. Review what examples of their work you can on their website or social media, but understand that not every project they’ve worked on will be displayed online. Asking your architect directly is the best way to understand the scope of their experience.
Do they have a design philosophy or style they embrace or are most comfortable with?
Picking an architect with a style preference similar to yours and your visions for your home will help ease your mind and the process. Does the architect specialize in more modern, contemporary homes or more traditional? Does their preferred style match what you envision for your home? Are there certain members of their team whose preferred styles or design philosophies more closely align with yours?
Can they provide references for similar projects?
Asking your architect for references from past clients and contractors can help you get the best picture of what it’s like to work with them. Were they communicative and dependable? Did they help represent the client’s wishes accurately and fairly to the contractor? Were they able to complete the project within budget? How did the project go? These are all questions you can ask clients or contractors your architect has worked for.
Do you want to reduce your home build’s environmental impact?
More and more architects are embracing sustainable building practices. If this is something that is important to you when going into your custom home build, make sure you ask your architect about it. It’s important to consider this in the planning stages of your project, because designing and building more environmentally friendly homes can change fundamental aspects of your project, which can affect the budget. However, if you’re considering embracing more green building practices, there are often tax breaks and exemptions you can take advantage of to offset these costs.
What are their expectations of you?
Working with an architect on a home build is a very intimate project requiring a close relationship. Ask them about how much they expect from you in terms of initial participation, communication during the design and build stages and project milestones or deliverables. You should have a clear understanding of their process and how you can assist throughout.
What is their fee structure? What happens if you need to make a change?
Before you begin your home build, you should expect your architect to be honest about their payment structure—and you should be honest about your budget. Having this open exchange upfront is the best way to make sure you’re both on the same page in terms of what you can reasonably expect the project to cost. You should also ask about how any new requests or change orders are handled in case you need to make a revision or addition to the project during the process.
Will your architect coordinate with your general contractor, or will that responsibility fall to you?
After designing your new home, the execution of the design will largely fall to the general contractor you’ve hired. Most likely, the architecture firm you work with will have general contractors that they recommend you hire based on their existing relationships or experiences in past projects. Regardless of whether you hire one of your architect’s recommended contractors, be sure to establish what your role and your architect’s role are in terms of who will be responsible for communicating your vision to the contractor.
Building a custom home is an exciting endeavor, but it’s far from easy. However, by making sure you know the answers to these questions you must ask your architect, the project is sure to go a lot more smoothly.