Studio Aranda


How to Hire an Architect

If you're planning a home remodel or addition, an architect can provide you with invaluable help. Any time you are tearing down walls or changing the "footprint" of your home, hiring an architect may not only be a good idea; law may require it. While it can be intimidating to bring outside help into your home design process, you can ease those worries and hire a suitable architect by following a few simple steps.

1. Determine whether or not you even need an architect. If your renovation does not require the reconfiguring of any walls, you may be better off simply hiring a contractor. Contractors will be able to handle most home updates by themselves. Replacing fixtures and finishes like cabinetry, flooring, paint and lighting is a contractor's bread and butter. However, if the floor plan of your home will change, are reconfiguring a bathroom or kitchen, or are building an addition or accessory structure, you should hire an architect.

2. Consider hiring a design-build firm. Design-build firms are firms that both coordinate the design team and act as general contractor during construction, thus streamlining the design/construction process and improving communication. If you don't already have a contractor in mind, this is a good option. Design-build is a rising trend. There are now many design-build firms that specialize in small projects like home renovations.

3. Choose several candidates, and schedule time to meet with them. Don't just randomly pick an architect and move forward; interview several candidates before making your choice. Tell them about your design plans, get a feel for how they work, and most importantly, be sure you'll be able to work smoothly with the firm or the individual you hire. You will be working closely with them, so it is important to have a good relationship.

4. Assess the fee situation. Once you have decided on an architect but before you sign a contract, ask how fees are configured. The firm may want to negotiate a fixed sum, or they may charge a percentage above the cost of time and materials. In the latter case, make sure to get a guaranteed maximum price written into the contract. This specifies the most you will pay the architect, which ensures that he/she won't run way over-budget by taking too long or selecting overly-expensive materials.

5. Read the contract carefully. Once the contract is drawn up, make sure you understand and agree to all its provisions before signing. Consider having a lawyer look over the contract with you.