All architects are unique, so you need to find one who understands your wants and needs.
How do you know who that architect is? Research goes a long way, but first, you have to begin with you and your needs.
Spend time listing down your goals for your project. Is it to increase the space that you already have or to build a new space? For what purpose? How much is your budget and how do you plan to source your funds? What is your target location? When you figure these things out beforehand, your architect will understand you more and you are more likely to be satisfied with the results.
Make a shortlist of prospects.
If you found any projects in your community that you like, know the architect or architects behind them. Ask your friends, coworkers, and relatives for referrals. Once you have names, see if they are members of the American Institute of Architects. Membership makes no assurances, but it tells you that the architect is committed to upholding a professional code of ethics and has access to resources that can help make your project a success.
Speak to each architect you’re considering.
Call each architect on your list and ask for an appointment. When you meet, make sure to ask them as many relevant questions as you can. For example, what are their qualifications? How experienced are they? What is their design philosophy? How do they plan to approach your project? Talk about your budget and see if the architect is willing to work around it. After or during the interview, you can ask for a letter of interest, brochures, photos of their previous work and the like. However, don’t be tempted to go with the architect or firm with the glossiest marketing materials. Make sure they have the experience you need for your project. After talking to your prospects, trim down your list to two or three.
Look for chemistry.
You want to interview potential architects not just to know more about them, but also to assess for personal chemistry. You will naturally want to work with someone you’re comfortable with. As much as possible, have the meeting with the architect at their office where you can get a feel for how they go about their work. Take note, however, that some architects will charge for this interview, so make sure to ask beforehand if there will be a fee.
Past Projects and Clients
Before you choose an architect, ask them about their past clients and whether they can take you to at least one newly completed project. Also, ask them for a few names and contact details of those they’re worked with recently, and call these people to know about their experiences with the architect. If the architect won’t give you any client references, look for another one.
Making Your Choice
In the end, you will pick the architect you trust and the one who feels most right for your project. Keep in mind that an architect provides professional services and not a product, which means you won’t know what you’re getting until it’s actually there. Therefore, be extremely careful when choosing one to hire.