Tips for Hiring an Architect

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Tips for Hiring an Architect


If you are in the market for an architect, here are some tips to help you with the selections process:


What's the difference between an architect and a building designer?

The both offer very similar services if you’re looking to build or renovate a house, but there’s one key distinction that ultimately draws the line between the two. To legally call yourself an architect, you need to be registered with a State-based architecture board. Many designers went to the same school, got the same degree, but decided not to get a license. With the license, you know the level of schooling and testing was done to insure a level of knowledge applicable to your goal. One other important difference is that architects often carry insurance for errors and omissions, liability insurance.  Many professional building designers are certified by the American Institute of Building Design. To earn this designation there is testing and other requirements to maintain the certification.  Keep in mind that the building designers without this certification are not held to any code of ethics.


Where should you start looking for an architect?

Word of mouth is the best place to start. In addition to friends and acquaintances; general contractors, interior designers and other individuals in related trades can be great resources. You can also check with the local AIA (American Institute of Architects) chapter. Many AIA chapters have home tours so you can actually go inside the homes to look around. An architect’s profile or website should be full of information on previous work and should give you a feel for what’s important in his or her design practice. 


What questions should you ask?

Here are a few to get things started:

  • Can I see some examples of your work?
  • How would you approach this project?
  • What are some of the largest obstacles on a project like this?
  • How do you charge, and what are your fees?
  • How long will this project take for design, building permits and construction?
  • Can you give me referrals for contractors you like?
  • Are there any red flags with what I want to do?

Do you need to have a budget before finding an architect?

It is a good to have an idea of what you want to spend. You need to make sure what you want to do is possible with the budget you have in mind.


A great architect might cost a little more than an average one, but the amount of value added to your project could be substantial.




Austin Home Magazine; Fall 2015