Do I need an Architect? Have you already made your design decisions? Do you need design input into your project? Or are you really only looking for someone to “draw it up”? If so, you would probably start with a draftsman. If there are design decisions yet to be made you should speak to some architects about their possible involvement in your project.
The Right Architect. If you are a first-time client, or an experienced client facing a new situation, you will need to research architect selection.
Should I speak to more than one architect? Usually yes. One obvious exception is when you have already had a good experience with someone or a very strong reference from someone you really trust.
How do I find architects to contact? Speak to other people you know who have used architects. People love to tell building horror stories and equally to tell you of their positive experience. Referrals are the best way to find someone. Failing that, there is the website of the Australian Institute of Architects, www.architecture.com.au, which has a “Find An Architect” service online. Another good place to compile a list is the yellow pages which will give you a summary of the local architects.
What should I ask each architect once I have a list? The architect will ask you questions about your project. It is a good idea to give them as detailed description of the project as you can as this will help them determine if they can help you. Ask them about their experience and the type of projects they enjoy working on, and ask to see some examples of their work. Frequently you may be directed to a website to view some of their work.
I have my ‘short list’. What’s the next step? You should meet with each architect on your list. If the project involves alterations or additions to your home, a meeting there will enable some input regarding the feasibility of your initial ideas. You should ask the architect about the services they can provide for you and how they charge their fees. You can ask for references from previous clients.
How should I follow up the meeting? Ring the references you have received from each architect. The opinions of previous clients will be interesting. Request a fee proposal from the architects you think you may like to work with.
OK, I have the proposals and have spoken to the references. How do I make my final choice? You are likely at this point to have a good feeling for who you could work with. Personalities are important; you need to be able to communicate well and easily with your architect. The quote should form part of your decision, but shouldn’t be the main reason for your choice. You need to be comfortable and clear that your chosen architect will be able to work effectively with you to produce the best possible outcome.