Most people start out buying a move-in-ready home. Eventually, they build some equity and upgrade to something bigger and better. At some point, however, you may find yourself in a position to buy land and build your dream home from the ground up. Perhaps you just decide to undertake some major renovations so an existing home will better suit your needs.
In either case, hire a reputable and experienced architect to help you design the perfect structure. How do you go about choosing the right professional for the job? You will need to get bids and interview prospective vendors before making your choice. Here are five important questions to ask before hiring an architect.
- Education and experience are both important when choosing an architect. You should always ask for degrees, certifications, and so on right off the bat to be sure your architect has the proper education. In addition, experienced architects will be able to produce a portfolio or gallery of past jobs for you to peruse or even visit to make sure that the quality and style of design match your sensibilities.
- What services do you provide?Some architects merely provide blueprints to match your requests and specifications. However, others may offer additional services. These include helping you to find a suitable contractor and remaining involved in the process until the project is complete.
You might want an architect to keep tabs on construction to ensure it proceeds according to plan. They work with contractors to make changes as needed. Additionally, they see to legalities like permits, regulations, and lien waivers. They generally manage your project from beginning to end. Before you hire an architect, you need to know what services are available.
- What are your rates?Architect fees are worked into your overall budget provided you have some idea of what they are up front. Your architect may charge a flat rate, by the hour. They may use a combination of flat and hourly rates depending on the type of work being done. You should naturally expect that more experienced architects will charge more. Hence it is fairly normal for rates to vary somewhat based on the size and complexity of the project.
- Can you provide samples and references?Any time you hire a professional for a job as important as planning your dream home, make sure you find the right person. This not only requires seeking out a design aesthetic in keeping with your preferences, but also a vendor that you work well with.
You can learn a lot from interviewing prospective architects. However, you should also take time to look at samples of past work and speak with former clients. This will give you the insight needed to make an informed decision.
- Can you recommend contractors you have worked with in the past?Reputable and experienced architects will almost certainly be able to make recommendations for contractors based on past experience. This is especially if the services they offer carry through to the construction process.