How To Hire An Architect : 3 Must-Do Tasks
Updated: May 28
Chances are if you've gotten to the point of needing a design professional, you've been thinking about your project for a long time already. It can be an overwhelming and scary process if you've never been through a renovation or new build before. This feeling can contribute to putting off starting construction projects.
Even if you've worked with an architect before, you may have cost yourself some time and money by not doing these things beforehand....
The 3 things you should do before hiring an architect:
1. ESTABLISH YOUR BUDGET
Not having a budget set prior to starting a project can lead to delays, confusion and frustration. Unrealistic expectations can even end a project before it starts. You need to consider what your personal budget/financing is for the project as well as what the project will cost. You can do a good bit of research online to try to establish what your project will cost you. Obviously, any of these numbers, without a design, are rough estimates. Without drawings, most contractors will not give a price or even an estimate for the job.
The cost per square foot number is a very helpful way to calculate a project's cost. This number takes into account labor and materials from all trades, start to finish, and rolls it into one number. Most contractors or architects will have a good idea of construction costs in your area and a quick call may save you hours of internet research trying to determine a cost per square foot. This is a helpful way to get a very rough estimate. Price per square foot can also help you set design parameters. If you know your budget is $1M and cost per square foot in the area for a high end build is 400, your home design can be about 2500 s.f. If you were expecting 4000 square feet, you know you need to either adjust your expectations or your budget.
How much does it cost to hire an architect? This varies depending on the scope of the project but a good estimate is 5-10% of construction cost. So $1M dollar home is looking at $100k in design fees. Please be aware that design fees are in addition to the construction cost. Depending on complexity and scope, this fee may not include any required engineering services (structural, mechanical, electrical, etc)
Going into a project with your numbers prepared and the project as detailed as possible is the best way to keep the project moving forward on time and on budget.
2. CONSIDER YOUR TIMELINE
If you are looking to start construction in July, a good time to secure a contractor and an architect is, at a minimum, in January. So there is a time component for the contract and design phase of a project. There are also time components withing a project for certain materials and trades. Many architects are good at rush jobs (although, depending on the "rush", there may be additional fees involved). However, most contractors are not able to start jobs immediately. It is best to contact them to establish A) when they can start and B) how long it will take to complete your project. Getting as far out ahead of when you would like your project completed is the smartest thing to do. You are more likely to obtain a realistic timeline as well as the fairest pricing if you don't have an asap timeline.
3. TALK TO ONE
May sound silly but it's true. Call an architect, talk to them about your project. Better yet, schedule a meeting. This is a wonderful opportunity to get an idea of how that person works, their personality, and their style. You don't have to be best friends (it does happen sometimes!), but you should be able to communicate adequately and have a good feeling about the person or team you are about to invest in. They may not be a good fit for you and you may not be a good fit for them; better to find out sooner rather than later.
This is also a good time to do your due diligence. There are thousands of designers out there but you have to be licensed to be an architect. Same with builders/contractors. Take a minute to verify those licenses! Here is the link to verify a professional in the state of Michigan.
I saved it for last, but talking to an architect is the best thing you can do prior to a project, whether you end up needing one or not. An architect will answer so many of your questions and you should always take advantage of any free resources. Myself being one of these resources, feel free to ask me any questions you may have. Talk soon!--- Angie
Wondering if you even need an architect? Here is a handy chart