How to Find The Right NJ Architect For YouThere might not be any online “dating services” designed to match clients to prospective architects, but there are some ways to sleuth out compatible architectural professionals. Tying the knot on a lasting relationship may take time, but it will be worth the effort in the end.

Just like marriages, perfect homes are not made in heaven; they take work and a bit of give and take on both sides. Remember that as you set off in search of architectural bliss.

Knowing Where to Look

Deciding where you want to live is based on many factors, not the least of which is your situation in life — age, employment, family status and, of course, financial status. Make an attempt to crystallize your own preferences in terms of neighborhoods. Think about your personal style — do you envision a sprawling ranch home in the suburbs or a slick condo in an urban setting? Think in generalities at this point rather than specifics. Next, consider your “inner house” and be willing not only to embrace it, but to “set it free.” A traditional clapboard in Montclair has the potential to harbor within its shell a modern, open-plan interior. Sand-in-your-toes informality might be a bit more difficult to achieve, however, in a golf course colonial in West Orange.

Knowing How to Look

Once you can identify potential zip codes, scout those areas to confirm their overall “rightness.” Look for development, design and construction signs, and keep a file of ideas as well as names. Look for ideas that make your heart sing and your spirits soar. Do some serious detective work: Ask friends, relatives and co-workers for recommendations. Chances are you’ll collect a lot of possible candidates. That’s a starting point. Scour the internet for design resources. Check the New Jersey State Library Architect List to find candidates in your area, or contact a local chapter of the American Institute of Architects for a list of licensed members and their respective specialties. Remember that your perfect choice does not necessarily have to be from your home town.

Making the First Move

Most architects will be be happy to schedule a preliminary meeting. As Bob Vila of This Old House fame notes, an architect will “bring a global vision” to a “complicated process,” and should help you “pinpoint the goals” of your project. Look upon a first meeting as a blind date, a “coffee and a sandwich” encounter — speed dating. You will schedule longer, more definitive meetings later; be willing to take the time to get to know one another before moving on to the next step. Make sure your architect gets your basic vision, and is willing to accommodate your quirkiness. Talk about finances, and discuss mutual expectations and responsibilities.

Exchanging Vows

The length of the “courtship” depends on a lot of variables. Whether you are adding a single room, embarking on a whole house remodel, tearing down the old and building new, or starting from scratch, there are a lot of details to handle. Your new New Jersey home must conform to local requirements; it must also satisfy both your romantic soul and your practical nature. A binding contract will detail the scope of work, the timing, the expectations, the benchmarks, and the costs. A proper contract will also have provisions for performance standards and dispute resolution.

Happily Ever After

Watching your dream morph from preliminary lines drawn on a blank sheet of paper into “sticks and bricks” with an actual, physical presence should be happy days, whether your vision is a revolutionary design in Morristown, a minimalist expression of Euro-style in Fort Lee, or new construction amid the trees in Cedar Grove. Your professional architect holds the key to making that dream real.


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