So now that we’ve determined our brief, sorted out your budget and maybe you’ve spoken to a few builders, now it’s time to talk to an Architect.
If you’ve never worked with an Architect before, it’s understandable that it can be a little daunting. My guess is you’re interested in finding out more information, getting to know a few architects and test the field before making any commitments. Most architects understand this, so don’t be worried that you're locked-in the moment that you start talking to someone. Just be sure to let the Architect you're talking to about your project know that your also talking to other potential Architects. We appreciate it when people let us know.
As mentioned in the previous post, most architects provide a commitment-free initial consultation, a coffee catch up to find out more about you and your project so we can provide you with the best plan and fee proposal for your project.
Where do you find an architect? you might ask. Architects are everywhere and they come in all shapes and sizes. You might start by searching the web, talking to a friend who has used an architect before, ask some builders or even check out some magazines. You want to make sure they are a registered Architect, not just a building designer, or someone who drawings ‘architecturally designed plans’.
When looking for a few architects to approach there are a few key principles to consider when making your decision.
More than likely there is a local Architect practising in your area. The benefits to using a local architect are that they’re familiar with the area, council codes and regulations, they’re likely to have developed relationships with quality local builders and other professional services that you are likely to use. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, a local Architect can save you a lot of time and hassle connecting you to the right people. Another advantage of using a local architect is that you're able to drive past previously completed projects in the area to see if you like it or not.
Personality is something you may not have thought of. During the process of designing and sharing ideas about your new home, you're going to be spending a bit of time with your architect. You want to make sure that you're both on the same wavelength and you feel comfortable contributing ideas, discussing different aspects of your project and asking questions along the way. You want to have the sense that the architect understands where your thoughts ideas and desires are coming from, in order for them to translate these into your home. If you don’t feel comfortable you simply won’t enjoy the process.
Architecture is a broad discipline. From hospitals to zoo’s, architects have the skills and expertise to undertake all kinds of design challenges. However, you want to make sure that the architects you’re talking to have the runs on the board when it comes to homes. Do they have previous experience in residential architecture? You could possibly get even more granular with this question. Do they have experience in micro-homes? Or sustainable housing? These are the questions that are going to help guide you on which architects to approach with your project.
Architects generally loathe the term ‘style’ or ‘trend’. Because it represents cheap hype that disappears as quick as it comes. Good architecture should be specific to the site and the client. A ‘one-off’ design that has been a result of the client-architect relationship and the design process. However, most architects (whether they want to admit it or not) have a general aesthetic or design approach to their work. You will either like their ‘style’ or not. However, when looking for an architect you should keep an open mind, familiarise yourself with architecture, grab a magazine, watch some YouTube videos. Make sure to think in broad terms. Don’t focus on the colours or the materials, the fine grain stuff. Think in terms of spaces that you like the feel of, do you like sparse minimal spaces or warm cosy spaces? This will help give you an understanding of what you do and don’t like when choosing an architect.
These are just some of the key things to think about when finding an architect. However, they will provide you with a firm decision-making matrix in order to move forward with the process. Choosing an architect is a big decision, so go slow (if you can) and don’t rush the process. If this new home or renovation is for the long term, your going to be living with your decisions for a long time.