Selecting the right Architecture firm for your residential project can be difficult. Depending on the project, it can often mean entering into a 1-3 year relationship. During this time there will be challenges and hurdles to overcome. You will be working closely with your project team therefore, it is critical that you can communicate effectively and your personalities are compatible. Below are our ten tips for selecting the right residential architect for your project.
Tip #1: Has the Residential Architecture Firm done work in the city of Houston?
It can be a huge advantage if your project team has relationships with city officials and understands the local permitting/approvals process. If your project team has worked with the local zoning codes, they should understand the requirements well without doing extensive code research and/or coordination. This will save you time and money.
Tip # 2: Set up an in-person interview at the architect’s office to see how you communicate with the project team.
Clear and concise communication is essential during the course of a project. A project team that knows the questions to ask in order to do their job can save significant amounts of time. As a client, it is important to know who on the project team you will be working with. An in-person meeting at the architect’s office will allow you to gauge how well you communicate.
Also, seeing the office environment and culture is important. You will be spending a good amount of time at the office over the course of the next few years. Having a clean and comfortable office close by is a huge plus.
Does your aesthetic taste align?
This may seem obvious however it is critical that your aesthetic taste is somewhat aligned. It can be an uphill battle during the course of the project if your design preference conflicts. A great way to determine this is to review past work from the firm. We also recommend bringing a collection of images representing styles and aesthetics you are attracted to for your first meeting. This will allow you to gauge if he/she aligns with your vision and will help the architect get a better feel for your goals on the project.
Tip # 4: Does your Residential Design Firm use 3D modeling software to communicate the design?
Visualization, modeling, and rendering software has come a long way in the last 20 years. Finding an architecture firm that is up to speed and proficient with the latest tools is essential. New rendering and modeling software can show spaces and parts of the building with stunning realism. These tools can help the owner make decisions quickly and know exactly what the final building will look like.
In your initial meeting, ask the project team to show you an example of a design presentation package for a past project. Take note of the organization and clarity of the presentation. This is a good indicator of the documentation and presentation quality you will receive.
Tip 6: Research the Residential Architecture Firm
A firm’s website can speak volumes about them. Do they have informational resources available online for their clients? Do they have an established online presence and engagement on different social platforms? Is their website up to date and formatted cleanly?
We do not recommend hiring a firm solely on the appearance of its website. However, it can be a good indicator of the firm’s design capabilities and quality of work. If your architecture firm delivers content about industry trends, news, and technology regularly, it is a good indicator that they are up to date on industry trends, passionate and engaged with their work and profession.
Tip # 7: Ask for referrals from other Houstonians
If you can speak with a past or current client about their experience working with the firm, it can give you additional insight to help make your decision. Ask about the obstacles they faced during the project and how they were handled. Ask about the firms’ communication style and the clients’ general level of satisfaction for the service.
Tip #8: Ask about the firm’s estimated project schedule and fee structure
Understanding when your project will begin, how long each design phase will take, and how the fees for each phase will be billed/structured is critical. If you have timelines that need to be met, it is important to confirm that your project team can meet your expectations,
Tip #9: Ask to visit a current project
Visiting a completed project or one under construction can be a great experience. It will allow time for the Architect to walk you through the project and explain design decisions, discuss details, and for you to gauge their level of construction knowledge. Ask the architect questions about the finishes, details, and systems in the house to get a feel for the level of involvement he/she had in the project’s construction. At Viewpoint Design we utilize Cheif Architect Architectural Home Design Software.