Interviewing and hiring an architect for the first time can be a daunting process. The person you select will be responsible for the overall project from beginning to end, and to listen to you to make sure your project both meets your expectations and budget. Your architect can help you develop a realistic estimate of the preliminary design so you can together determine if your budget is adequate to accomplish your goals.

Kitchen/Family room addition to a colonial rear elevation

When you initially interview architects, you should ask him/her a number of questions, such as:

• How are you suited for my particular project, and what expertise can you bring to the table?
• What similar projects have you designed and built before?
• How do you charge?
• What types of drawings/models do you provide?
• Can you recommend suitable builders for this project?

After you have selected an architect, he/she will generally ask for a nominal retainer (to be credited toward his/her final invoice) as well as a signed contract, which outlines the architect’s services and responsibilities throughout the process.

Meeting one-on-one with clients frequently is critical to having successful projects

Questions the architect will ask you at the beginning (perhaps even during the interview) will include what is the nature and function of your project:

• Is it an addition, renovation, or new construction?
• What are the goals of the project?
• Where is the project?
• What main rooms do you need, and how large do you anticipate the project to be?
• What is your construction budget?
• What is your time frame?
• What is your lifestyle (family needs, entertaining needs, indoor vs. outdoor space, etc.)?
• If new construction, do you have any preconceived ideas on a preferred style of the project?

These are just some of many questions your architect can explore with you over your initial meetings and to begin to give thought to how architecturally your needs can be met, in both in an architecturally appropriate way and within your budget. This process should be fun, which is always my goal when working with my clients!