Finding an architect for your New Jersey home-addition project is a big choice to make. This professional will guide you through your venture from beginning to end and will require a sizable investment on your part for their services. But since each architect has his or her own specific design style and method of work, it’s important to find an architect that meshes well with what you want to see in your completed project. You want to be sure that the choice you make is the right fit for you and your renovation/addition. In some cases, you may be better off with a small firm or a sole practitioner specializing in residential design. With a small firm, the person you first meet to go over your plans will most likely the same person working with you throughout your project. With a big firm, you may not get the same sort of personalized service.
An architect can produce more interesting and creative designs than you may have thought possible for your space. Their designs can produce high-functioning floor plans, exceptional natural lighting as well as ventilation, and exceptional integration with the building site. They can help avoid common errors in design or plan books, ensuring your project runs smoothly with limited hiccups. They can provide you with detailed plans that outline every change they suggest to make, and they will also have a detailed blueprint of your project so you can get a better visual of what your completed project will look like. These designs and blueprints will come with specs so you know how much you are spending and can keep on budget. Here are five steps to help you find the right architect for your project:
- Make a list of potential candidates.
Word of mouth can really be a great tool for finding any kind of construction or design-based company. Talking with neighbors or people who have recently renovated their homes can be helpful in finding the names of architects who provide services within your area in New Jersey. The relationship between architect and homeowner is a very personal one. The architect will be working closely with you and will be working on your property, so it’s important to find someone who works well with you and understands your needs. Many architects will have a portfolio that you can look through to see their previous work and potentially pick up on their design style to see if it fits what you are looking for in terms of a project type.
- Research, research, research.
With the internet being the helpful tool that it is, it’s so easy to research. There are a lot of websites where you can look up local professionals within your area. The best part is that most of these websites include ratings by other clients, so you can see how the architects have performed in the past and if the clients were happy with the work that was completed. You can also search for architects within your Zip code and see what comes up. Spend some time searching the results, and write down any names or companies that fit with what you are looking for. Some professionals even have their portfolios online, so take your time and look through them to see their respective design styles.
- Check the credentials of your candidates.
Not all architects are required to be members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which means they don’t all have to subscribe to the same code of conduct or ethics. But you want to be sure that the architect you hire is going to do everything by the book. An architect should know the necessary permits needed to complete the job in your town while keeping a clear eye on the project’s outcome.
Architects can also recommend qualified contractors to turn your design plans into reality. Your architect will know several contractors they have worked with before and get along with well, which will benefit you in terms of time and money. The more efficient your design-build team is, the less time and money you’ll be spending. The architect can also handle the tough aspects of your project including contract negotiations, which can leave you with a good and cooperative relationship with your contractor.
- Ask questions.
As the homeowner, it is normally your job to keep an eye on everything happening with your project. When you hire an architect, it becomes their job to ensure that everything is going according to plan. Before you hire an architect, here are some questions to ask them:
- Who will I be directly working with?
- How much experience do they have with residential projects/renovations?
- What is the square footage construction price for this type of project?
- What specific services do you offer and are you open to providing only the services that I require?
- How do you prefer to collaborate/communicate with clients?
- What thoughts do you have about my project?
- How long will it take to get the necessary building permits, design, and construction?
- Are there any red flags that jump out at you in regard to my project?
- How would you approach this project?
- What are some of the largest obstacles on a project of this size or specific design?
Don’t be afraid to ask all sorts of questions. The more you ask, the better idea you’ll have about the style and philosophy of the architect working on your project. No question is stupid or unfounded. It’s important to find the right person who matches their style with what you need and doesn’t twist your arm into changing plans into the way they want them. If they make suggestions for certain things they see as problematic in your project, that’s a good sign that they are trying to accommodate your needs while remaining true to the function of the space.
- Make your final decision.
It’s ultimately your choice in how you choose an architect. While their services may seem expensive, their expertise could actually lower the final cost of the completed project. And as you’re researching and interviewing potential architects, it’s fine to go with your gut feeling. You’ll be spending a lot of time together working on your project, so you want someone you trust and are comfortable with. Keep your budget in mind at all times, and don’t allow anyone to coerce you into adding things you don’t need or want. The right professional will take into account your needs and will make suggestions along the way for potential additions that make sense—for both your design and your budget. It’s your choice and your project, so take the necessary time to make a choice—and don’t ever rush into anything just because you want the project completed.