10 Things to Look for When Choosing an Architect


If you have an upcoming residential or commercial project, working with an architect is often a great idea. The architect will handle all the paperwork, plus some will do all the heavy lifting, helping you choose the best builders and interior designers.

Whether designing a new home or renovating an existing structure, you always want the best results. Here are some important criteria for selecting an architect.

1. Licensing and Insurance

Architects must complete their education, get some years of industry experience, and pass exam prerequisites before applying for a state’s practice license. Architects who are licensed are therefore qualified, meaning your project will be in good hands. Another critical selection factor is insurance. A fully-insured architectural firm will be able to take care of any losses or inconveniences during the design and construction process. This affords you some peace of mind which comes from staying away from overwork and chilling on the patio.

2. Experience

The number of years an architect has spent working on diverse design projects is an important selection criterion. An architect who has been in the industry for more than ten years has more experience than one with only three years in the field. However, this shouldn’t be the only metric for scoring the architects. You still want to consider their performance and client experience throughout the practice years.

3. Design Dynamics

Before hiring an architect, take some time to understand the firm’s design dynamics. That is, how does the firm approach a design project? Building a home is often a team endeavor that relies on inputs from different people, including the owner, interior designer, builder, and architect. And while this approach is often the best, sometimes it causes delays due to too many decision-makers and a lack of proper direction. Therefore, some firms will choose a top-down approach when making certain decisions to ensure the project moves fast and meets the clients’ expectations.

4. Reputation

The reputation of an architectural firm lies not only with the status or brand but also in the quality of services offered. You can easily tell a reputed architect based on the number of clients willing to hire them. The type of clients the company serves and the level of trust earned are the other factors to look out for. You can also browse some reputed third-party review sites and check what previous clients say about the architect.

5. Past or Completed Projects

Due to the complexity of certain projects, it’s always a good idea to check an architect’s portfolio of completed projects. This will give you a hint on what to expect, plus you can quickly tell if the company is the right pick or not. For the best results, ensure the architect understands your unique design needs and has demonstrated competence in similar designs before.

6. Services Offered

There’s a lot that goes into your home design and construction projects. Often, homeowners want to deal with one professional who will handle the rest and ensure the project is complete within the specified timeframe. The architect is often the best professional to oversee the entire project. However, some will only handle the home design and let you find the builder and the interior designer. This can be quite hectic if you don’t have solid connections. A rule of thumb is to hire an architect who will walk you through the design phase through construction, one step at a time.

7. Client Experience/ Customer Support

Perhaps this is one of the most important aspects that will determine the kind of relationship you’ll have with your architect. The best architectural firm will have exceptional customer support services. If it takes two or more days for an architect to respond to your email or answer a critical voicemail message, that’s a red flag.

8. Cost

How architects price their services varies, and you want to go with what works best for your unique needs. If your project is more demanding, requiring more hours, labor, and supervision, you don’t want the architect to charge per hour. Similarly, a small project taking less than a month with less labor involved will be best priced hourly. That said, the best architectural firm will adjust its pricing policies to suit your needs.

9. Project Timeline

Everyone wants to have their homes built and completed within the scheduled time. Before signing the contract, ensure the architect is committed to obeying all the terms in the agreement/contract. You can also check reviews from past clients to see if the architect tends to delay their projects.

10. Proximity to the Architect

If your design project demands a high level of supervision, hiring a local architect is often the best decision. You don’t want to work with an architect located far from your area, as that means minimal site appearances. This can have a great impact on the quality of the project and even the cost and expected project timeline.

Inspire Your Dream Design Today

Now that you know how to find an architect, it’s time to put these tips into action. Always do your research and narrow down your options to pick the most promising firms. You should then proceed to book appointments though their booking software (Maybe they’ll actually be using something user friendly like Trafft).

During these virtual or in-person meetings, be candid with your expectations and don’t make unnecessary exceptions or sacrifices unless necessary. This will help you pick the best architectural firm that will put your needs before theirs.

Sandy Jensen
Sandy Jensen, a celebrated writer in the home and garden niche, boasts over 12 years of hands-on experience. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture from Cornell University. Before joining our team in 2016, she worked as a landscape designer, combining her love for nature and design. Sandy's expertise shines through her articles, offering readers practical and aesthetically pleasing gardening tips. Off the clock, she enjoys hiking and nature photography, further nurturing her connection with the outdoors.

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