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How to Choose The Right Architect To Build Your Dream Home

IDENTIFY YOUR “WHAT AND WHY” YOU’RE BUILDING A CUSTOM HOME

Identify why you’re building a custom home and what kind of features it would require to satisfy your needs. Do you have a multi-generational family with a need for numerous bedrooms and living spaces? Do you entertain often and need a large space to host guests? Or perhaps you’re looking to build yourself a quiet retreat out in the woods. In any case, before you begin interviewing potential architects, create your home “wish list”. Browse the web, books, and magazines to identify your aesthetic style. Finally, determine your construction budget. Once you’re equipped with these basic things, you can seek out architects with experience in projects of similar scope.

DETERMINE WHAT SERVICES YOU NEED FROM THE ARCHITECT

Perhaps you’re looking for an architect that can provide numerous design services; often our clients come to us seeking a complete package which includes: permit and construction drawings, interior design, furniture selection, landscape master planning, etc. A firm that specializes in a multi-disciplinary approach will allow for a seamless transition between each scale of design, ultimately creating a cohesive end product. Further, if you’re looking for someone to assist you with both the design and construction, look for firms that offer design-build or in-house construction management services.

Alternately, you may already have a strong sense of what you want and simply need assistance in obtaining a building permit. If you’re intent is to duplicate a design that you’ve seen before, or already have a set of plans sketched out, look for an architect (or qualified designer*) that specializes specifically in permit drawings. The turn-around time may be faster and the fees will likely be reduced. The trade-off is that this process doesn’t typically allow time for customizations or design revisions that would make the home “custom” to you.

RESEARCH THE ARCHITECT’S SPECIALIZATION

The architectural profession covers a broad range of building types. Perhaps you’ve mentioned that you intend on building a custom home only to have a friend suggest “Oh I know an architect; I’ll connect you two.” While all architects are “qualified” to design residential buildings, most will have a specialization with which they are most experienced. Schools, hospitals, or warehouses, for example, must satisfy a different set of requirements and go through a different permitting process than a custom home. Further, architects specializing in larger building types may be less interested in taking on residential work. How to choose a good architect for your home build? Hire an architect that has substantial experience in residential design to ensure that they are familiar with the building and construction type, and how to navigate the required municipal processes.

PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR GEOGRAPHIC REGION

One aspect to note when considering how to choose a good architect is that their specialization may also be concentrated to a geographic region. Often Architect’s become the go-to in a certain neighbourhood (through word of mouth and consistent visibility through project signage) and will know how to seamlessly navigate specific municipal processes in that area – for example, some areas are governed under architectural or heritage controls, etc. you want to look for an architect who is familiar with those processes and has experience in the area you are looking to build.

REVIEW THE ARCHITECT’S PORTFOLIO

If you’re interested in building a custom home, you’ve likely spent a fair amount of time driving around your neighbourhood, browsing images of homes, or researching how to choose a good architect. By now, you can hopefully identify a style that you gravitate towards. While architects specializing in residential design can satisfy a range of styles, most will have an aesthetic that they feel strongly about. For example, at FrankFranco architects we have a team of people passionate about modern design, though we don’t shy away from working with clients that prefer a more traditional approach. Browse the architect’s website and ensure that their aesthetic is aligned with yours. Additionally, look for projects on similar building sites to your property, whether it be a tight urban lot, a suburban infill, or a sprawling country property.

MEET WITH THE ARCHITECT

The process of designing and building your dream home can often last 2+ years. You will have several meetings with your architect – sometimes weekly – and you will get to know one another fairly well. As architects specializing in residential design, we recognize how personal each project is to our clients and want to ensure that we cater to their lifestyle and engrain their personal narrative into their home. In order to do so, we want to get to know you and your family. In your initial meeting, the architect should be asking questions, but more importantly, he or she should sit back and listen to your wants and needs (remember to have that list ready).

The working relationships we build with our clients are critical to the success of the project, both from a design perspective but also for effective communication throughout the process. There will be exciting moments but also stressful ones, and you want to ensure that the person you’re working with has your best interest in mind.

Contact PK Architecture today to schedule a free consultation.