Simple questions to ask an architect before renovating
Since you’ve made it on to this page, I assume you’ve got a house that you want to renovate? Given this is such a big decision to take – I highly recommend one of the first steps to take is to engage a professional architect to design your renovation. But how do you go about choosing an architect?
Unless you have an architect you’ve worked with before or you have one that comes highly recommended, you’ll need to source an architect from scratch. But how will you know if you’ve chosen the right one for your projects?
It’s not as easy as you might think. Not all architects are the same and your choice will ultimately impact the functionality of your residence, your lifestyle and the value of your house. If you want the result to be positive one, then you need to do your research.
To help get you started, here are some simple questions you should ask before engaging an architect to design your house or renovation.
Anyone using the title architect will be registered and qualified (If you’re unsure ask for evidence of both), however experience and expertise can vary greatly from one architect to the next. Ask your architect about their experience, how long they’ve been in business, the types of projects that they’ve worked on and even their philosophy when it comes to architecture, design, sustainability etc.
Whilst it’s not necessarily vital that the architect you choose has experience in renovating your style of house, there is a certain peace of mind that comes from knowing that they are familiar with your style of project. Ask them to show you examples of similar types of renovations they’ve done before. Importantly, ask them about the goals of the owners of those projects, why they choose the design they did, the benefits and any challenges they faced with that project. Great architects are passionate about their work and will happily share that information with you.
Many clients go to architects with a rigid plan in mind, feeling that they know what they want and simply need it drawn up. However, when you engage an experienced, highly skilled architect you are engaging a design professional with potentially decades of design experience. So why not take advantage of their knowledge? A skilled architect will ask you questions about your lifestyle and what is important to you in terms of the outcome you’re looking for. As you speak, they will be coming up several potential design options which they will then tailor in their mind to perfectly suit your lifestyle as well as your budget. Get them to explain their reasoning behind their design suggestions so you’re comfortable with the advice and design suggestions they’re offering.
Whilst it’s common that architects will draw on their past experiences for inspirations when creating designs (what’s the point of experience if you don’t use it right?), it’s important that your design is tailored to suit your exact needs. Whilst your renovation goals and existing house may seem very similar to other projects your architect may have worked on, it’s doubtful that your lifestyle needs will be exactly the same as their previous clients. For this reason, it’s vital that your architect creates a bespoke design for your individual needs and not simply rehash a previous one.
This is important, and often overlooked question which can potentially impact the cost of your renovation. Many architects are aligned with, or in partnership with licensed builders and offer a one-stop design/build service. And whilst these may seem like a good idea on the surface, the truth is it offers very few advantages and can end up costing you more. An independent architect will allow you to take the designs they create and get several tenders from builders to ensure that they’ve getting the best possible price for your project. Some architects will run the tender process for you as an additional service.
Whilst some architect only offer a basic design service, others offer a range of services including such things as interior design, landscape architecture, contract administration, tendering services and more. Whilst you may not need all these services, it pays to ask what additional services they can provide, in case some are of interest to you.
An experienced architect will have a pretty good idea of how long the project will take from initial design through to completion. If it’s a home that you’re currently living in, you will have no doubt want to know the stages and time frames associated with your project.
If you’re living in the house, will the renovation require you to move out at any stage? Will there be periods of time where you are without utilities like electricity, gas or water? What parts of the home will tradespeople need to access? What times of the day will they be present? Will the house be secured during the renovations? Keep in mind that the architect themselves wont be building the project, but an experienced architect should be able to answer those questions and give you a good indication of what, if any, impact there will be on your lifestyle during the construction phase.
Most importantly good luck with your renovation and at the end will turn your house into a beautiful home for you and your family.