Conversations With Your Architect: An 8-step guide for beginners

Whether you want to build a new house or are looking to renovate an old one, you definitely need an architect. These professionals are the mastermind behind creating structurally sound and exciting buildings, inspiring exteriors and interiors. Choosing the right one can make all the difference between making or breaking your entire venture.

It is important that you choose an architect who will approach your project with as much enthusiasm as you. Keep in mind that any building project has numerous moving parts, from raw materials to specialist contractors and a good architect will be able to advise and help you project manage. The selection process is the hardest part because you’re literally looking for someone who can be your guide through the entire process. Where does one start? You can find the right architect or firm based on their online reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations, and advertisements.

Next comes communication. This can be even harder because, when embarking on such a project, many are hindered by their own overwhelming thoughts and self-imagined scenarios. Here’s what they usually think: what if I don’t get to explain exactly what I want? What if they can’t articulate my vision? What will I do then?

In this article, we break down all the steps you need to communicate effectively with your architect to ensure the success of your build.

Conversations With Your Architect: An 8-step guide for beginners

There are plenty of what-ifs, and to make your life easier, we’ve compiled the most important aspects that you need to consider and the type of conversations to have with your architect in this regard. So, let’s take a look:

1. How to select your architect

how to select architect
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How to select architect

You need to understand that the project architect is the ‘focal’ person. Whatever your project type is, your architect should be someone who is: a great listener, understands you and your needs, can provide the best alternatives if required, has a problem-solving approach, and above all works to achieve work-and-budget related targets.

You might also want to check out their specialities. While many firms can take on a variety of projects, some work in specialized niches such as residential units. Some thrive in commercial or corporate designing while others can even take on multi-family units.

The best way to gauge where your preferred architect’s specialities lie is to look at their portfolio. It will help you understand their signature aesthetic and give you an inkling of whether they can make your own vision a reality. After all, what truly makes an architect the best fit is, how well he can relate his designs to your indefinite ideas, lifestyle, and vision. Initial interviews can be harrowing, but it’s worth it to find the right person for the job.

Make sure you are comfortable and confident in conveying your ideas and thoughts and that the architect is there is listen and propose some initial feedback. Instead of just having one interview, you can have a call-back or further conversations even after the selection process.

Pro tip: Some architects even offer a free first consultation, so you can approach these and see if they’d be a good fit for what you have in mind.

Lastly, always hire ARB (Architects Registration Board) registered architects. Do your research. Start off by asking friends, families, or locals for recommendations.

2. Initial conversation with the architect

Once the selection process is done, it’s time to begin initial communication with your project architect. This step requires patience and mutual understanding.

If you had a telephonic conversation or video conferencing with your architect initially, try inviting them to your place next. Communication is key to the success of your project. Start with a pleasant intro, have a deep conversation about your expectations and budget and build a good work relationship. A good rapport gives your architect a full understanding about your personality, your taste and your lifestyle.

A good marker of whether you’ve found a good person for the job is that your architect must be curious to know about your vision. Therefore, start communicating your needs, style, preferences, and purpose of the project. Keep it like this for a while to get the best results out of such initial conversations.

3. Consider telling your habits and discuss your concerns

discuss your concerns
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Discuss your concerns

Usually, architects will ask questions related to your lifestyle and habits. It will help them understand your needs better. They may begin asking if you intend to have a big family, need a bigger kitchen, or love having get-togethers at home, or want enough storage to fit your stuff, etc. Depending on your choices, they will help you decide whether you need an interior designer for additional work.

Don’t hesitate in communicating these needs and be as detail oriented as possible – after all, it’s you who’ll be living in the final space.

4. Deciding Budget & Analysis of Cost

This is perhaps the most important conversation that you need to have with your architect.

Budgeting keeps the funding of the project on track. Many fail to allocate a proper budget or have ideas that far supersede what their bank account allows. Cost limitation is a serious issue and can affect the work quality and dedication of workers.

The best way to avoid this is to be honest about what you can shell out. Formulate an honest proposal for your project. This will include all the services involved – yes, even your extra expenses, overhead fees, red tape, and emergency budget.

Sit with your architect and decide how you want to allocate your funds to each category and what are your cost limitations.

5. How to get started with the project detail

When you break out the details, it’s time to come to the point. Tell your architect what exactly you want to build and where. Get help from the Internet and build mood boards. Take the images of the designs which reflect your thoughts the best. Communicate your requirements and needs openly. Without them, architects won’t understand what you want.

Have your architect visit the site thoroughly, inspect the view, and understand the perspective of your location. Help your architect create some appropriate scenarios in their mind and transfer those designs onto a notepad or paper. You can ask your architect about his experience with a similar project they have designed in the past. They will articulate your thoughts into actual designs, furniture layouts, and material choices. They will even give you 3D design services, scaled models or mock-ups of the final design before project implementation begins.

6. Project Duration

project duration
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Project duration

The starting date of your project is when the construction begins. Move-in day is when all the rubble has been cleared out. Your architect can provide you an estimated timeline for your project and tell you what particular date you can move in.

The duration of a project depends upon the type of building; its size, scope of work, furnishing, decoration, and availability of the construction material. Your team’s work (consisting of contractors, sub-contractors and sometimes suppliers) needs to be synchronized with the allocated deadlines to achieve the regular targets.

7. Project Progress

You can ask your architect to show your project milestone chart (Gantt Chart) before the construction process takes place. This can include sketches, work plans, wall detailing, and other specifications for each stage against a timeline. This is a great way to decide whether your architect has understood your vision or is there any need to make amendments. This process reconfirms your choice of selection and decisions discussed earlier and gives you an idea when each of these decisions are being turned into reality.

In terms of physical progress, you can visit the site from time to time to see how work is progressing on the whole.

What will your architect do?

Architects are the ones who have complete insight into the project and can interpret your vision. So usually they act as a project manager and take charge of the project, get you a reliable contractor and oversee the contractor’s work. These include ensure work progression by visiting the site regularly, keep the budget on track, make adjustments where needed and report to you. Therefore, it is recommended that you to talk to your architect beforehand about the services he or she will provide.

Schedule meetings and calls

Do you love sudden work calls and unplanned meetings? The fact is that unscheduled phone calls, urgent emails, and communication through undefined channels can be a big hurdle in the way of productivity and outcome. That is why it is necessary to be clear with your work schedule, communication channels, and job hours. Respecting boundaries is crucial to good relationships and helps maintain work-life balance.

There are several communication channels to interact with that you can decide mutually as to the urgency of work. For instance, text on a phone for minor information exchange, conference call to discuss some unique ideas, emailing the questions and queries you want to get answers to, face-to-face meetings for project discussion at the start of the week, etc.

8. Look beyond your project

Your project isn’t only a construction project. It’s your vision. It’s your home – you are going to be living in it. This is why hiring a project manager will be a great help. This person can prioritize the work and keep it on track.

However, it’s important that you conduct regular site visits on your own, because ultimately, this is your project and no one else can tell exactly what and how you envisioned it to be.

Architects, too, can only provide you up to the mark services if you clarify specifications, review the drawings, approve required amendments and keep visiting the construction site on and off.

ALSO: Who to take on board as a team

who to take onboard as a team
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Who to take onboard as a team

There are going to be different people on board for your project. These include an architect, a contractor, civil engineers, builders, labourers, technical engineers, plumber, sanitation experts, etc. You will work with all of them in the long run. Therefore, it is crucial to learn about their work and necessary contact details of every member of your team.

This should also be part of your conversation with the architect. Sometimes, you’re required to hire your own contractor and subcontractors while other times, an architect already has some working with them. Other times, they can give you a cultivated selection to choose from.

We hope following these steps will benefit you and help you get a good architect who will take your construction project to another level. If you have other aspects of your conversations with your architect that is not listed here, we would love to hear from you. Simply leave us your comment below.