Negosentro | Questions to ask when hiring the services of an architect | As with all realms of business, architectural firms can range from the professional to the downright negligent – and everything in between. If you’re looking to engage the services of an architect firm, it’s essential you find one capable of completing your project ontime, within budget and with an adequate degree of competence.
For most people, a home is the biggest and most valuable purchase they’ll make through life so taking chances with a lackluster firm simply isn’t worth it. Here are just a few questions an experienced and professional architecture firm should be more than happy to answer – ones that will give peace of mind you’re working with the right company.
Will I be charged for an initial consultation?
No business can operate for free but most architects should provide at least an initial consultation free of charge to discuss the viability of your ideas and whether your potential budget will be enough to achieve your concepts. However, if you’re looking for more detailed feedback or opinions about your plans, you should expect to pay.
Can you prove you’re a fully-qualified firm?
The term ‘architect’ is protected legally and can only be used by those who are fully qualified – but the same doesn’t apply to the word ‘architecture’ so be sure to ask a firm to prove their credentials before agreeing to a job or parting with any money.
What is the full range of services you offer?
You should check the full range of services provided by the firm to eliminate the chances of confusion later. For example, many clients want an architect to look after every stage of their project, from the initial planning phase through to overseeing construction and quality assurance. Be sure your choice of architect offers everything you need. Companies like dSPACE Studio architects can oversee every phase of a job – from the preliminary designs right through to construction, admin, and final project closeout.
Do you have examples of work or a particular preferred style?
As the saying goes, “You’re only as good as your last job,” and the same applies equally to architecture firms as it does to any other type of business. A qualified firm should be more than happy to show examples of their previous work. Check the firm’s website for case studies and examples of past jobs. If they don’t have a showcase area on their website, ask why and request to see printed copies or plans of older work. You should also ask if they have a preferred style of architecture or a signature design methodology they prefer to employ.
What is your track record of planning application consent?
The primary reason build projects don’t happen is through failure to achieve planning consent from the relevant authorities – often because of bad or inappropriate draft designs – so you should check on a firm’s track record of approval. Also, it may prove beneficial to work with a nearby design company that is familiar with local policies or may even have contacts they can pull on.
How will I be charged?
Many firms will offer you a complete package price, stipulating and pricing every service to give you the total budget for the project. However, and equally common, firms often operate on an hourly fee so it’s vitally important you agree how you’ll be billed through the lifetime of your job. Additional fees can very quickly mount up if a company charges by the hour so it’s imperative an architect lays out in black and white how you’ll be billed.