Tips for working with an Architect. Irish Independent, 05.10.2012

“An Architect is the Magic Wand in your Building Project… “


Learn how to work that wand to its full potential with these Tips for Working with an Architect on your home building project…

  • Word of mouth is always the best source for any professional. Choose an architect based on their previous work (ask to see some of their projects) and also on the potential you feel for a good working relationship to develop
  • The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, the RIAI, has a useful website with details of how to work with your architect and a search tool to help you find a registered architect in your area (
  • Agree in writing at the start all details relative to the fee being charged including the amount, at what stages it will be due, what exact services are included and how any unanticipated input will be charged.
  • Prepare a detailed, written brief for your project based on your present and future needs. Think of this brief in terms of issues, not solutions. It is the architect’s job to prepare solutions based on these issues and your needs. You may include images of building styles, materials and colours as you like.
  • At all stages of the project, make sure you understand exactly what your architect is proposing. If you have difficulty understanding 2d drawings – plans, sections and elevations – request 3d drawings or rough models.
  • Drawings include an increasing level of detail as the project progresses. Request at each stage a set of blank plans with just the outline of the walls and openings, excluding text and annotation, so that you can see the proposed spaces clearly.
  • Buy a scale rule and learn how to use it. You will then be able to acquaint yourself with both the general and particular details of the project, from room sizes to fitted furniture.
  • Where an extension or structural alterations are proposed, compare proposed room sizes with rooms you are familiar with.
  • Your architect will be able to guide you through the design and building process. Stay focussed and attentive at all stages.
  • Once you have agreed the overall scheme of things, you will be required to sign off on a wide range of detail as the project progresses to site. These will all be of huge importance to you in the long run, so devote the time and energy required to make sure it all meets your needs.
  • Channel all instructions to the builder via your architect at all times to avoid potentially costly misunderstandings.
  • Include the cost of your architect’s charges in your budget from the start. Expect to recoup the outlay in many years enjoyment of a space sculpted to your precise needs, now and into the future.
“The dialogue between client and architect is about as intimate as any conversation you can have, because when you are talking about building a house, you’re talking about dreams

Robert A. M. Stern – Architect