Is the scope of your home design project more involved than replacing your kitchen countertops or bathroom flooring? It is the responsibility of an architect to transform human needs and desires into visual concepts and entire habitable structures. When you hire an architect, you are not only hiring someone to design and build your home, but you are also hiring the person who will manage all of your budgetary limitations and site constraints, as well as coordinate the relationships of all parties involved in the project.
It is best to hire an architect who will be involved in all phases of the design process beginning with initial concepts to the completion of construction. It is often that the architect is the first person you will hire for your project. If necessary, your architect may help you select and hire your sub-contractors, which can include the builders, engineers, landscape architects, etc. Architects are also involved in negotiating contracts for all involved participants. It is for these reasons that it is extremely important for you to have a good relationship with the architect you hire. They can be the tie-breaking vote between you and the general contractor, and they can be your biggest advocate along the way of construction. Depending on the office that you hire, the scope of their work can span from pre-design environmental impact studies to selecting furniture and interior finishes. As far as production, the architecture office that you hire will start with concept drawings and finish with construction drawings and documents. Some firms even design with 3-D renderings and videos, but that should not be assumed. One of the most important duties of an architect is the fact that they serve as managers and supervise most aspects of construction as well facilitate communication between all other contractors.
It is very important to hire the right architect for the job that you need. Remember that the most well known or established designer may not be the best architect for you. It all comes down to the individual project. Research and ask around from people whose work you like. Browse portfolios online so you can get a sense of the aesthetic of the designer. It's important to have somewhat of an idea of what you would like to do and how much you would like to spend. Architects are natural problem solvers. They will assess the entire situation and help you to solve your problems too. Don't settle for a single architect too early. Call and interview a few. Make sure that you feel like your personalities will mesh well and that you like their professional perspective.
Questions to ask a prospective architect:
What is your fee structure?
What does the cost include?
Do you have professional liability insurance?
Make sure you bring up any special requests you would like as soon as possible. (ADA, LEED)
What types of renderings will you produce? (3D, video, illustrative)
What is your experience with similar projects?
When do you expect to start and be finished with the project by?
What do your services include? (It's best that the services are until construction completion)
What happens when the cost exceeds the budget?
Can you provide me with references?
Would you say your work has a defining style? (This is important in case the the architect's personal style will interfere with what you envision)
Will you help with hiring contractor and subs?
What do you estimate the cost will be?
What will I need to provide?
Are there any complications you foresee with this project?
Find an Architect on Houzz. Narrow your search in the Professionals section of the website to Architect, then choose the metro area in which you'd like to find an architect. You may also look through photos by style, like Traditional, Asian, Contemporary, Modern, Eclectic, Mediterranean or Tropical, to first find a room you like then contact the architect that included product.