When you’ve finally found the perfect plot of land to construct your dream home, who do you entrust with its design? The person that you pick will construct the most intimate place in your life – the place you’ve been saving for – dreaming for. The wrong choice can make for a bumpy, not to mention expensive, project and lasting irritation every time you look at that ill-placed arch! (Sorry – I’m getting a little personal here.) It turns out that finding the perfect architect is like finding the right mate, and we’ve got some tips to skip the first-date pleasantries and get real.
Like your perfect partner, an architect will help you through the entire project: helping you balance design features with functional applications; translate your wish list into tangible outcomes; protect your interests throughout design and construction; and keep you informed of the budget. The really good ones serve as a general therapist throughout the process.
Though there is no simple strategy when choosing a great architect, asking the right questions can help. The problem is that most people get stuck with the same out-of-the-box questions that don’t get you very far. Here’s our take on better questions that will get your architect to bear their soul and help you find your perfect match.
Why We Like It: This sparks passion, and what good relationship survives without it? While the portfolio is important, you’ve probably already got access to a good bit of it online. This question gets your architect to open up about what got them excited about the field and what keeps them coming back everyday. If your architect pleasantly drifts down memory lane thinking of the glory days or struggles to contain the beam of excitement about their most interesting projects and clients, chances are, they’ll go above and beyond for you project too.
Why We Like It: This is your dream! And your architect should be excited about it as you are. This question helps you bond over the finer points of the project and hopefully leads to conversation around the kinds of similar projects they’ve done in the past. If the architect is struggling to answer, this could be a red flag that they really aren’t comfortable enough with your project details to provide and answer or they’re just lacking in passion. Either way, I’d leave politely and keep it casual.
Why We Like It: Even if you pick the very best firm, you might not get the attention you need if your project keeps getting bumped by other priorities. In any situation, ask to meet the people that will be working on your project and check out their personalities. Are they easy to talk to? Do you gel? These are the people who are going to transform your dream into a reality: You’re allowed to be picky.
Why We Like It: This question keeps it light, and gets deep at the same time. This gets the architect talking about interesting projects and gives you an idea of the twists and turns that could potentially happen during yours. Don’t get me wrong, you absolutely should go with licensed and insured professionals. But a question like this could give you much more insight into how the firm operates. From the response, you can also gauge how they handle stressful situations and mishaps; how they employ creative strategies to create solutions; and how they deal with their clients in less-than-ideal circumstances.
These questions can arm you with the confidence to take commit your time and your life savings to a genuine person. But the best questions in the world won’t help if you’re not willing to really listen. And be prepared to open up about yourself. This is a two-way street and it will only work if both of you are on the same page.
Remember, being able to construct a home is a gift, ensure you enjoy every bit of it.