The top 5 questions for your architectThere are hundreds of questions that architects can be asked, but if you don’t prioritize these queries, you run the risk of missing out on some of the most important ones. This can leave you lying awake in bed wondering about the answers to things you didn’t talk about during your last meeting or phone call. To avoid this problem, try writing a list of questions before you meet. Make sure these are on the list so you remember to ask them when the time comes:

What Is Your Architectural Style?

Even the best architect in the world won’t seem amazing if his designs are in a completely different style than the one you’re looking for. It’s very easy for people to assume that a famous architect along the lines of Frank Lloyd Wright would be great for any project – after all, someone with a name that big has millions of fans. In reality, you need to know just what type of designs your prospective architect prefers, and shouldn’t assume that he’ll be good for something totally different.

What Size of Projects Are You Used to Doing?

While every architect who designs big projects likely started out on small ones, the first projects done after an expansion can be expected to encounter more glitches than usual. Therefore, you’ll have the smoothest experience by choosing a professional who is already used to your expected project size.

That said, if you’re doing a big project, it can be worth it to involve architects whose only prior experience is with smaller jobs. In this case, however, the leader of the team should have large-project experience so he can tie everything together and take care of aspects involving major infrastructure.

How Does Your Company Do Things?

At some firms, one or a few architects will deal with you throughout the entire project. You may even be in direct contact with the lead designers. At others, especially larger ones, your point of contact will be someone who is not directly involved in the design process at all. Instead, this contact will be more of a customer service agent who simply relays your comments to the design team. Make sure to choose a firm that has the style you prefer so that you have a satisfactory overall experience.

How Much Do You Think This Project Will Cost?

Ask this even before any plans are drawn up or official quotes are done. Many professionals hate to give “ballpark figures” since the final cost may change quite a bit depending on the details, but even the most general ones have a bit of use. For example, if you ask 5 architects this question and one mentions a price 10 times more than the others, it’s a telling difference. However, it will still be up to you to decide whether that means you have one legitimate figure and nine low-balls or if it’s the other way around.

Before approving a project, you will also need the official quote. Make sure to get everything in writing first so that you are not beset with infinite cost overruns.

How Long Will it Take to Complete the Project?

This simple question helps you set your timetable, and in some cases, will help speed the delivery of the final plans. When people think they have infinite time to get something done, they often seem to actually take infinite time to do it. By making the architectural firm commit to a delivery date, you effectively set a deadline and keep things moving along.

These are some of the essential questions you should make sure to ask when you interview architects and their firms. When you have a handle on these basics, your experience with the firm and the design process should be smooth and pleasant.


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