These lessons are an amalgamation of lessons we’ve learned from hiring an architect and from talking with other people who hired one.
- When selecting an architect, should you choose to do so, ensure that they are familiar with home renovations. New construction or commercial construction are totally different and require different skills.
- If you have any work that may be slightly out of the ordinary, ask your architect if they’ve ever done that work before. If not, will they consult with architects who have done that kind of work, and if so, then how much extra will this cost you. We had a glass block wall done in our renovation and it did not go well. There were four revisions to the drawings, each one progressively more detailed. I downloaded builder’s information from the Pittsburgh-Corning web site and forwarded that to the architect.
- Check the references of your architect fully. Ask to talk to people for three projects within the last year or two which were similar to yours. Ask what people liked most about the architect and what they liked least.
- Let your architect know, in detail, in writing, what you expect of them. Do this as soon as possible.
- Let them know your schedule and tell them you expect them to ensure the schedule is met. If that means they have to push you along to make decisions, that’s certainly much better than you waiting for them.
- Tell the architect what your objectives are in the renovation.
- Tell them the constraints they will work within. How much can you spend, what walls, doors, windows, floors, plumbing, heating or exterior constraints there are.
- Ask the architect how much time they will spend on the project and how much will be delegated to a junior architect or even a draftsperson.
- Ask the architect what professional associations they belong to and if there’s ever been a complaint registered. Check for yourself. Check the Better Business Bureau, although I’m skeptical of the validity of this due to the way the BBB functions.
- Get a written contract with your architect describing their responsibilities and yours and what the fees will cover.
- Ensure that the contract is for the duration of the project, not specific dates. That way, if the project goes way overdue, the architect is motivated to bring it to a timely conclusion to control his costs.
- Your architect may not agree to this next one, but try and have it written in the contract that the project estimate must be no lower than 15% (you pick the number) of the contractor’s estimate. If not, then you get to find another architect without paying anything. The reason for this is that by the time you’ve got the drawings and have gone to tender, you’ve invested a lot of time and done your own budget. You feel committed to proceed. You don’t want to find out that the contractor’s price will be 30% higher than what you were expecting. This forces the architect to spend a bit of time providing a realistic estimate so you can do some real budgeting.
- The architect should be the liaison with the general contractor. You want these two to figure out the details of completing your project on time, with high quality and according to all applicable regulations. If there are problems that could have been foreseen, let them determine which of them pays the extra. You, as the homeowner, are not responsible for their oversights, so refuse to pay for them.
- The contract with the general contractor will likely have a dispute provision and name an arbitrator. Do not designate your architect as this person. Try and find a competent person who is not in any way affiliated with the architect or general contractor. That way, if there are architectural oversights, there will be no conflict of interest to worry about.
You want to establish a good working relationship with your architect, but ensure your interests are protected should that relationship deteriorate.
(taken from http://twsheppard.com/Renovation/)