It pays to meet with two or three architect or designer candidates before settling on the right one for your home building or remodeling job. Before meeting with each architect or designer to discuss your project, do your homework so you’re ready to take full advantage of the time you have with them. This way you can avoid leaving important questions unanswered. Also see Choosing the Right Design Help for Your Project.
When building or remodeling, it’s very important to put together a collection of ideas that showcase the designs, products, and features you like. This collection can both inspire your own ideas and communicate what you have in mind to an architect, designer, and/or builder.
Gather and present your ideas. So where do you go to get ideas? Please see How to Find & Organize Home Remodeling Ideas. It’s important for you to have a handle on the kinds of things you like and want so you can articulate your vision.
Put together a meeting agenda of what you want to accomplish. List the important points you want to cover and the order in which you would like to discuss them.
Have in mind the general budget for your building or remodeling project so you can give a clear idea of the project’s financial limitations. Keep in mind that a remodel almost always costs at least 20% more than you think it will. You can keep your home building or remodeling project on budget with careful planning.
Be clear about your timetable for completion of your project. Ask each candidate whether they will be able to meet this schedule and if they will be working on any other projects at the same time.
Request to see a portfolio of each candidate’s work and ask for the names of former clients you can contact. You will want to make sure each architect or designer has experience with the type of home or remodel you hope to accomplish. In addition, you will want to confirm that their aesthetic is in keeping with what you hope to achieve.
Print and use the following questions as a guide during your meetings:
What are your credentials, how long have you been in business, and are you a member of any professional association?
What type of fee structure do you recommend for this project—a percentage of the cost of the job or an hourly rate? If you will charge by the hour, what are your hourly rates? If by the job, what are the services you would provide—all working drawings, handling of permits, and oversight of construction?
When do you anticipate submitting a bid for this job?
Do you have experience with this type of building or remodeling project, and how recently did you do a similar project? Can we look at any similar work you’ve done?
How long will the design process take? What would you need from us in terms of input and meetings during the design process?
Who will be in charge of actually doing the design work? Who will be handling meetings and communications with us?