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How to Choose an Architect

If you're considering building, you'll want to consider hiring an architect. While you may not need one for a small home, there are many advantages to using a licensed architect. They don't only come up with your design, a good architect will walk you through every stage of the building process including overseeing the construction and making sure the contractor follows his plans.


Things You'll Need:

   •    Patience
   •    3 ring binder with paper to keep information in

1.  Start  by  finding   architects   that   you'd  like  to  interview.   Ask   friends,  family,  or  business  associates
     for recommendations. Use
the internet or phone book to aid in your search.

2.  Contact  architects.  See  if  you  can  set  up a brief phone interview.  Remember that architects  are  highly
     paid  rofessionals  - 
make  sure  that  you  have  a  list  of  questions  ready.   Any  architect  that  you would
     consider  hiring  should  take  the  time to
answer  your questions about their experience, design principles,
     etc. but  don't expect them to give away their knowledge for

3.  After contacting numerous firms via the phone, narrow your choices down to 3-5 architects that you'd like to
     interview.  Set 
up  a  meeting  with  them.  Be prepared with information about what you'd like to build, your
     expected budget, & questions that
you'd like to ask the architect.

4.  When you meet with the architect, the following questions are important and should be asked:

     •   What is your experience in building  (insert project type)?  You want an architect who has had experience
          in your
type of project.

     •    What  do  your  services  include?   Ideally,  you  want  an  architect who  offers  a  full  range  of  services
           including   schematic  
design,   design   development,   construction   documents,  bid  assistance,  and
           construction administration.

     •    What are your design principles?  These should fit with what you are looking for, but ideally, you'll find an
architect  whose  goal  it  is to take your vision and put it on paper.  An architect should say that they are            willing  to spend as much time as necessary with you,  the client,  in order to learn about your needs and
           wants. They'll use that information to design the
best possible building for you.

     •    What is your fee structure?  Some architects charge  an hourly rate  while others charge a percentage of
           total construction
costs. If your architect charges an hourly rate, be sure to find out if there is a maximum            guaranteed cost.

     •    What  other  services are included in your fee?  Your architect will likely consult with structural engineers,
engineers,  and other professionals throughout your design.  Find  out if any of those costs are
          covered in your fee or if
you'll be billed for those separately.
     •    Do you have professional liability insurance? You'll want to make sure that your architect does.

     •   Do   you   have  experience  in  environmentally  friendly  design  and  building?  As  this  becomes  more
         important and more
popular, you may want to find an architect that has experience in this field.  They may
         be able to assist you with getting a
LEED or other green built rating on your home or building.

     •  Do  you  have  rendering  capabilities?  Technology  has  allowed  many  architects  to  offer clients photo
         realistic  renderings  so 
they  can  see  what  their  building  will  look  like  before it's even started. Some
architects  can  even  offer virtual tour renderings. If you are a visual person, this may be very important to

5.   Once  you've  interviewed  all  the  architects  that  you  are  considering, take your time and really compare
       them.  Make  sure  that 
you  are  choosing someone who you connected with as you'll be working with this
       person for a good amount of time.

6.    After  you've  made  your  selection, make  sure  that  you  get  a  contract  and that you understand all of it.
       Take  the  time  to  have  an  attorney  look  it  over.  Specifically,  make  sure that you understand payment
       terms,  what  happens  if  you  have  to  put  your project on hold or cancel your project. Don't sign it until
       you understand and are comfortable with all terms of the contract.

Source: eHow

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