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EVALUATING AN ARCHITECT
- Quality of Work You’ve been to the website, and it looks enticing. But photos are one thing. We take prospective clients on a tour of several completed and in-process projects so they can see first-hand the ideas, execution, and attention detail, inside and out, up close.
- Level of Documentation. This can vary a lot, and it’s important. Are the architect’s drawings good enough to get a building permit, but leave literally hundreds of subsequent decisions to be made by the client or the builder? Our drawings specify everything down to the light switch covers, which results in smooth, efficient construction, a happy builder, a happy client, and few if any change orders.
- Diversity of Style. Does an architect’s work look mostly all the same? If so, chances are good that’s what you can expect for your project. Our work begins with a blank slate and no preconceived ideas, and takes form based on the unique character of each client and site. A perusal of our website is testament to this approach.
- Cost Imagine you received estimates from builders for your project: one has a lower bottom line, so you go with him. During construction, you discover he didn’t include the roof. Architectural services are not a commodity, and so cost comparisons need to have a consistent basis: degree and scope of services, level of documentation, involvement during construction, and assistance with approvals. We offer full services, which means that we provide all the necessary information on structural engineering, lighting design, interior design-basically everything short of decorating that goes into your home-so that you and your builder have a turnkey roadmap to the final product. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when looking at costs.
- Client Satisfaction If you only pursue one avenue for evaluating an architect, it should be this one. After all, everything else is wrapped up into this final outcome.Ask for a list of references, prepare a list of questions, and call them. They have been through what you are about to do. They will have a perspective on most of the other criteria included in this overview, and can offer a frank assessment of the process and the product.
- Builder Satisfaction You might ask, “Why do I care if the builder is satisfied?” You should care. If the builder is working from documents that have missing, incomplete, inaccurate or unbuildable information, you will ultimately be the one who bears the consequences in delays, change orders, questions or confusion. We pride ourselves on providing builders with thorough and accurate information, and on being available at all times to participate in the construction process. We have strong relationships with builders who rely on us as a resources and an ally.
- Process Who will actually be working on your project? We offer a personalized service, wherein the expert you meet on day one is the same person who will take ownership of your intentions and shepherd them through the entire process until the completion of construction.
- Adherence to Budget We have a proven method for anticipating and controlling costs wherein we identify, early in the process, what the project cost is anticipated to be. Adjustment to the design and its associated cost can therefore be corrected, as necessary before any additional work is done. Thorough documentation as mentioned elsewhere ensures that the design will not fluctuate in cost because there is no ambiguity.
- Familiarity with Best Practices for Sustainability and Performance. All architects are not created equal. In addition to their creative talents, which we have considered as evident by the visuals of their work, there is the aspect of building integrity. Are they versed in the latest technologies for energy efficiency, code compliance, and building science? Such questions may be more difficult to answer, but one suggested way is to ask about experience with a variety of construction techniques and/or successful accomplishment of performance standards (e.g. passive home design) in past projects.
- Personality Fit You will be spending a great deal of time with your architect during this process. You need to have a strong working relationship. Is this someone whom you can trust? Do they listen closely and understand what you are trying to convey? Are they an advocate for your goals for the project? Establishing that the architect is someone in whom you are confident is an important consideration when making this decision. Talking with past clients is certainly an important part of making this evaluation.