It’s really hard for people to find an architect. To further get to the point, it’s not hard to look one up that’s in your hometown – that’s easy. What’s hard is trying to figure out which one you should hire.

Architecture is a service industry and as such, personality is going to figure heavily into the process. This is a collaborative process between the Architect and the people who want to hire, you want to surround yourself with clients who want to enjoy the process as well. Seems pretty straightforward – work with good people and the result will be a good product and a good experience.

But how do you determine if you are going to like working with the architect you are interviewing? Even then, there are probably some questions you should consider asking your architect when you interview them. Here are some that you should consider:

  1. How interested is the Architect in the project?
    It seems pretty obvious – of course, the architect is going to say that they really want to do your project but what if they don’t want to do your project? Always think of this as the first question because it gives the architect you’re talking to an escape path should they really not be in a position to take on your project.
  2. How busy is the architect?

To everyone else, this means that there are few architects out there that find themselves in the position to turn down work. To the interviewer, you should follow up with how many projects are currently in the office.  You can get away with larger ratios because the different level of skill positions required for each task can be assigned to different individuals in the office.

  1. Who will you be meeting with throughout the entire process? Is this the same person who will be designing the project?

There is nothing worse than interviewing with one architect, deciding that you really connected with that individual, only to never see them again (unless there is a problem with the billing). Some architects are extremely protective about letting the clients interface with someone other than themselves (because that’s how new architecture firms are made) but this is all about getting along with the person who is doing the work. It’s okay if you only interface with one person if there is a team – that makes financial sense. Just try and get an understanding of how the firm handles the division of labor and if possible, get an understanding of who is on the team.

  1. How will the architect collect the information needed to successfully determine the program for your project?

The “program” is the first part of a design process where you list out the needs and requirements for the project. If you’ve never designed a house before, how are you supposed to know all the considerations? That’s where your architect should help you out. So how do they provide this help? Is it a questionnaire, is it a lengthy face-to-face meeting, maybe a bit of both.

  1. How often will you have meetings?

Some architects limit the number of meetings you have for the various phases of the work – most of which are tied to the financial consideration they are receiving from you.

  1. What are the steps in the design process?

Asking this question is more about understanding the back and forth nature that you will be developing with your architect. If someone tells you that you get three schematic design meetings, and if any more are required, there would be additional design fees.

  1. How long does the architect think it will take for the design and construction process?

If you think about all the decisions that need to be made, you’ll quickly realize that the process of designing and preparing construction drawings for a house takes a fair bit of time. You can get a design development set of drawings put together in about 4 months – and that’s when you get to meet with the clients as often as once a week. It’s not that uncommon that you are waiting on the client to take the appropriate time to think through the information you have just given them, and some people need to take more time for review.

  1. How available is the architect?

Speaking of meeting once a week, how often is your architect available to you? It’s not always practical for you to expect weekly meetings, but it’s good to know whether or not you can see your architect when you want to see your architect.

It’s so easy to do preliminary research by looking at the architects’ website, their social media feed, Pinterest boards, Facebook, etc. that these face to face interviews should be more about determining if the person sitting across from you is the person you think they are after doing some research.

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