Working with your Architect 1: Choosing an Architect

You are about to embark on that long-postponed project and to avail of the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme. You know your project will benefit from the skills and expertise of an architect. But how to choose the right one? We answer the questions people ask about choosing an right architect for your project…

1. My project is tiny: is it worth getting an architect?

Choosing an Architect

  • With any project, you have a given amount of money to spend. It is important to spend that money in the best possible way.
  • You will recoup your outlay on your architect’s fees in a home where  Space, Light and Storage are maximized. A good architect will suggest ideas that you may not have thought of and help you create a home that meets your needs and fits like a glove.
  • Many architects offer a wide range of options regarding how they can be engaged and paid so that you can tailor their service to suit your budget.
  • You can also consider a purely advice-based service, like our own 2 hour House Consultation service.
2. I don’t know any architects, how do I find one?
  • Ask and look around! Have friends or family been doing work? If so. have they used an architect? Think of homes you admire and which have had work done. Has an architect been involved? Were they happy with the service?
  • The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, the RIAI, is the regulatory and support body for architects in Ireland. They maintain a register of over 2,600 architects in Ireland.
  • You can use their website to find an architect in your area when choosing an architect.
3. A friend has recommended someone with CAD skills for the job, what do you think?
  • An ability to draw, whether on a computer or by hand, is not the same as an ability to design a home.
  • In the hands of a good architect, your house will not just “work”, it will “sing”.
4. One architect wants to charge a fee for coming to my home to discuss the project. Is this necessary?
  • Architects differ in their approach to the initial client meeting. Not all architects charge for this visit, for example.
  • If you have a clear brief and sufficient pictures of your home to illustrate the scope of your project, you could avoid this charge by visiting the architect at their place of work.
  • If you do pay a fee, make sure you know in advance how much that fee will be, how long the meeting will last, what you can expect to receive in return and whether the fee will be deductible from the overall fee for the project.
5. What should I do in advance of first meeting a potential architect?
  • You should gather a concise package of information to include a (a) a written brief for the project (a statement of your requirements in terms of Space, Light & Storage as well as a list of the rooms you require etc), (b) your budget and (c)  any other information relevant to your project including special requirements, timescale etc.
  • Think in terms of issues, not solutions. It is the architect’s job to produce a variety of ideas, based on your stated needs and circumstances.
6. What qualities are important in choosing an architect for my home?
  • Choose an architect with experience of, and a commitment to, the design of houses.
  • Check references, speak to previous clients, to establish the architect’s record in dealing with Contractors and to dealing with issues of time and budget.
  • Familiarize yourself with previously finished projects to make sure you are comfortable with the style of your architect’s work.
  •  Seek clarity in terms of fees and your architect’s time commitment to the project at the outset.
  • Above all, choose an architect with whom you feel you will have a good personal relationship. A building process involves a long and potentially stressful process.
  • Choose your architect well and you will be rewarded with a home that perfectly meets your needs, now and into the future.

Eva, 21 January 2014

In a future post, we’ll look at Top Tips for dealing with your architect to make sure the process runs as smoothly as possible and that you get maximum benefit from your architect.