Key Post What to ask the architect at our first meeting

Pablo74

Frequent Poster
Messages
210
Hi all,
My wife and I are looking at a major renovation job on our home. I bought it myself 10 yrs ago and since have got married so we need a bigger house.
The architect whom i know for a few years is meeting us on Sat for a chat about our ideas but what i would like to know is what
question should we ask him. We need to know rates etc but are there more important questions we need to ask ?
Thank yoU
Pablo
 

odt

Frequent Poster
Messages
21
Re: Ask the Architect ?

Many architecture institutes from around the world offer guidance to the consumer in relation to engaging an architect. From a quick google, for example, questions proposed by the American Institute of Architects link:

20 Questions to Ask An Architect

Your architect should be able to provide detailed answers to each of the following questions. Remember! Your comfort and convenience, not to mention your budget and design goals, are the highest priority, so be sure to interview more than one architect before making your decision.

1. What does the architect see as important issues or considerations in your project? What are the challenges of the project?
2. How will the architect approach your project?
3.
How will the architect gather information about your needs, goals, etc.?
4.
How will the architect establish priorities and make decisions?
5. Who from the architecture firm will you be dealing with directly? Is it the same person who will be designing the project? Who will be designing your project?
6.
How interested is the architect in this project?
7.
How busy is the architect?
8. What are the steps in the design process?
9.
How does the architect organize the process?
10. What does the architect expect you to provide?
11. What is the architect's design philosophy?
12. What is the architect's experience/track record with cost estimating?
13.
What will the architect show you along the way to explain the project? Will you see drawings or sketches? 14. What services does the architect provide during construction?
15.
How disruptive will construction be? How long does the architect expect it to take to complete your project? 16. What sets this architect apart from the rest?
17. How does the architect establish fees?
18. What would the architect expect the fee to be for this project?
19.
If the scope of the project changes, how will additional fees be determined?
20.
Do you have a list of past clients that the architect has worked with?

The RIAI proposes 20 questions to ask yourself:link

There is further useful advice in the RIAI consumer section in relation to engaging a registered architect etc.

Best of luck!
 

DBK100

Frequent Poster
Messages
80
Ask him to see his work, particularly domestic, to see if it is the type of design you go for. Don't be steered towards a design language you are not comfortable with. Ask whether he can, or does, design in a visual language that you are comfortable with.

Ask particularly about his experience with domestic upgrades to improve thermal performance. This isn't just about solar panels and heat pumps, - more 'mundane' and unseen upgrades are vital to get right first (insulation, ventilation, condensation, associated problems like mould, air-tightness, etc.) and need to be well considered.

Ask who will be doing the work in the office and how involved the partner will be in your project.


Ask about the quality and prices of builders he has worked with in the past and whom he routinely tenders jobs to.

It is really important when selecting an architect for your own home to be as satisfied as you can that they are on the same wavelength as you; that they 'speak the same language'; that you feel comfortable with their suggestions, ideas etc. and don't feel intimidated into a particular design solution that is not you.

Architects can state things like: "...clients deserve to be challenged..." and that they (the architect) should be "confronting and challenging traditional conceptions of architecture".
Fine if you know you want highly contemporary and stylized spaces that will end up controlling you and dictating the way you live, rather than livable spaces that work with you and accommodate your way of living - and your eclectic range of furniture!

Ask him about his designs, materials & details: how any extension, and the materials used, will age over time.
Its important how the building looks when new, but its also important how it looks and feels in 10, 20, 30 years time. Brilliant white walls with flush cappings can look stunning in photos when new, but age and weather will soon change that, -same goes for a lot of untreated timber. Other materials and detailing (to take account of the effects of weather & time) can result in designs that improve with age. This type of design tends to be less style / image conscious and more about the experience of living in and with it. This, by the way, does not rule out contemporary, it means sensitive contemporary.


Ask him how much the Local Authority will bill as a Development Contribution (if you need planning permission), and any other likely costs. http://www.askaboutmoney.com/showthread.php?t=131262

Ask about how & when you should inform neighbors about your work and how to anticipate and minimize any potential difficulties there. Ask how he designs to achieve the result you are after while at the same time avoiding as much as possible issues like shadowing or overlooking which can often lead to neighbours objecting.

Ask whatever is on your mind - better to know now!

DBK100
 

DBK100

Frequent Poster
Messages
80
Some thoughts and some advice gathered from various sources including RIBA (UK Architects Institute), ARB (UK Registration Board), Which? (Consumer Body), AIA (American Institute of Architects), and other Consumer / Client Advice sources.


Good architecture (at whatever scale) needs collaboration and dialogue.


First Off
Start building a list of potential architects. Get recommendations from friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Visit websites and note work that you like. (
Search Google for architects in your area and filter sites you find. There is a search facility on the RIAI’s website http://www.riai.ie/consumer/find_an_architect/ , but it is poor. If you enter your location (particularly as a Dublin postal area), you will only be returned architects whose office is in your immediate area. This is not a critical criterion, – your architect does not need to be within 10mins of your house.

Check to see if the architect is a member of The RIAI (other competent designers can carry out the same functions as an architect but can not legally use the term architect).


Compatibility
It's important to talk to prospective architects as much as you can.
Your compatibility with them will be just as important as their credentials.
If you have strong design opinions, you will need someone who listens. And if you're embarking on a long project, the last thing you need is someone you can't get along with.
If an architect suggests something that you are not comfortable with, don’t be afraid to say so. If you both clearly understand what you want at this early stage, it may prevent problems as the project progresses. There are architect’s who have a very defined style, approach them if you like the results of their work. You could find however that an architect is steering you toward an aesthetic you neither like nor want. Don’t feel intimidated by this, - there is no right or wrong and it is certainly not a case of your opinion being inferior to that of the architect. If necessary, you should feel comfortable in explaining why you sense a lack of compatibility, and find an architect who will listen to what you want.


Other issues to Consider:

  • Finding an architect who specialises in the type of work you are thinking of doing; (e.g. – Is it a protected structure, do you want minimize ongoing fuel bills but do so within a finite budget, domestic work, etc.).
  • Whether you want an architect from a small or large practice; -Bigger firms often have internal teams headed up by associates or directors, in smaller firms the principals tend to be much more hands on.
  • Whether you want an architect with a modern approach to design, or one who is more traditional, or whether you like the thought of contrasting old & new.

Contact
Call firms on your list. Describe your project and ask if they are available to take on your project. If they are, enquire about an initial meeting. If the office is unable to handle your project, ask if they can suggest another firm.
Arrange an initial meeting with them – which can often be free.


Information to Bring
Before you meet with an architect for the first time, it’s worth spending some time writing down what you want to achieve. For example, you might want your architect’s advice, you might only want them to provide planning drawings, or you might want a full service through to completion. Have these notes with you so that you can look over them during the meeting. It is important to give your architect as much information as possible so that they have a clear understanding of what it is you want.
Bring photos or any survey drawings of your building (inside and out), together with photos of the road and neighbouring properties. If you have a copy of an Ordnance Survey map, bring that too.


Questions and Things to Consider

  • What the fee will be;
  • How often they will update you on the progress of your project;
  • Will they keep you informed of anything which might affect the quality and cost of your project;
  • What information they need from you before they start work – usually you will need to provide some extra information to do with the project, for example, you may need to check deeds, find out who owns a wall, and so on;

  • Why you want to make the changes and whether you want a quick return on the property’s value or are happy to make a long-term investment;
  • Who will use the new space and what it is for;
  • Whether you want the design to be in keeping with or contrast to your existing house – you may want a contemporary look and feel, for instance, or something more subtle and traditional. It is your choice, but some architects may only do the one thing.

Think carefully about your building needs and goals. Do you need more space? What activities will be housed in the space? How much can you spend on the project? How will you finance it? Where will it be located? Do you plan to do some of the work yourself? Don't worry if you don't have all the answers. The architect can help you clarify these if necessary.

The meeting might take place at the architect's office, which is helpful because you can see where the work will be done, or at your home where the architect can learn more about your project and needs - whichever suits.
The architect may show you photographs of past work and describe how the firm's experience and expertise will help you.
During the meeting, ask questions. How busy is the firm? Does it have the capacity to take on your work? Who will handle the job? Insist on meeting the person who will actually design the project. What is the firm's design philosophy? How does the architect intend to approach your project? How interested is the firm in your job? Talk about your budget and find out the range of fees that the architect would anticipate for your project.
Before making a final selection, ask the architect for references from past clients.
If, during the course of the discussion, there is something you don't understand, ask the architect for clarification. If you feel the architect doesn't explain things in a way that you understand, then he or she may not be right for you.


Chemistry
A meeting is crucial because it gives you a chance to meet the people who will design your project and to see if the chemistry is right.
Remember, you will be working with the architect for a long time and on your own home. You want someone with whom you feel comfortable and confident of their abilities.


The RightArchitect
Once you’ve met with a few architects, you should be able to make a choice.
Ultimately, choose the architect whom you trust and feel is right for your project. Unlike buying a car or a new appliance, you can't see the final product and test it out. The architect provides professional services, not a product. The right architect will be the one who can provide the judgment, technical expertise, and creative skills, at a reasonable cost, to help you realize a project that fits your practical needs as well as your aspirations.

Your decision might be based on relevant experience, approach to design, or simply the sense of finding someone who clearly understands what you want, - and who listens. Finding and architect with whom you feel completely at home is of utmost value. You will be working together on a highly personal undertaking – more so than any other building type.
You will most likely only have the one opportunity to get the job done right, so the right architect for you, is essential.


Formal Agreement
When you have agreed with your architect what you want them to do, they should record the terms of the contract in writing. This is normally done by completing a standard RIAI Client-Architect Agreement form. At the very least, the contract should state:

  • How much work you need the architect to do;
  • What is included, and what are additional expenses;
  • What the fee will be, or how it will be worked out;
  • Who will be responsible for what; and
  • Whether there are any special terms for settling disputes - they can arise.

Finally...

Quality
Do not just opt for the lowest fee architect. Your choice of architect should depend on the quality of the service and product they provide, not only the fee. Like all professions, there are good, bad and indifferent architects practicing.
Remember that short term saving can often result in long-term dissatisfaction and subsequent costs.

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Hope this is of help

DBK100
http://www.mesh.ie
 

onq

Former user
Messages
4,390
<takes off hat>

Nice one DBK100.

Justifies making this a key post thread.

:)

ONQ.
 

Megan

Frequent Poster
Messages
700
Architect - First Meeting

I have just read through this post and have a question. I am looking into building an extension to my house with a view to increasing the size of my kitchen and adding a wet room as an en suite to a bedroom (bedroom to be extended too). All of this to the back of my house (bungalow) and will not need planning permission as it will be under 40 sq.metres.
My question is re cost to get an architect to come out for first meeting. I have been told approx.€200 for this . So if it takes 3 different architects before I get one that we can work with I will have paid out €600. Would that be the norm? All new to this?
 

DBK100

Frequent Poster
Messages
80
Hi Megan,

You would be extending an invitation to an architect to come to your house with a view to providing you with a fee proposal or at least an indication of their costs.
This is the architect's opportunity to pitch for your work by showing you some examples of their previous work and offering a competitive fee.

Why not think of it that way?
Then only invite architects who share the same point of view.

There are of course many who will say things like 'we don't compete on fees' or who will want to charge you for the opportunity to come out and offer a quote.
The phrase "Free Quotations" on tradesmen's vans always amused me! Why wouldn't they be free.

There are plenty of architects who would be willing to take on this work who realise that they are working in a competitive market place and will have no problem providing that "free quotation".

You do need to check & double check the conditions that apply to the exemptions for sub-40 Sqm rear extensions. There are numerous and they can mean that your extension may need planning approval. In particular, you need to be aware that if any structure abuting a neighbour's structure needs to be demolished to allow for the extension, then a planning application is required.

DBK100
www.mesh.ie
 

Megan

Frequent Poster
Messages
700
Thank you DBK100 for taking the time to reply. I live in a detached bungalow and there is the width of my garage between where the extension will be and my neighbour's house so I don't think there will anything to be demolished o allow for the extension. Then again with planning laws you never know. Afew builders have told me they are building extensions that don't need planning without an architect but I don't want to go that road as I want to get the best out of the space I have and in my opinion that is where the architect comes in . As you said DBK in above post I wil only get one shot at this because when its built it is too late. Thanks again.
 

choccy

Frequent Poster
Messages
73
hi megan
we're currently designing and building extension onto back on old house- pretty similar to yuorself kitchen ,diner, utility - i agree with DBK you're better to get an architect involved as you'll get a better job in the end and planning can be tricky - it sounds like the architect didn't want the job ( mad i know !) and was trying to charge you to put you off- maybe they do more commerical stuff or something- but i've got a great architect and its worth meeting a few and you have to be on the same wave length and you have to broadly like their ideas, and if you think they're a twat you're not going to work well with them! the first meeting is a get to know you session- see some examples of work etc, scope of project.
 
S

ScubaDuba

Guest
Many architecture institutes from around the world offer guidance to the consumer in relation to engaging an architect. From a quick google, for example, questions proposed by the American Institute of Architects

20 Questions to Ask An Architect

Your architect should be able to provide detailed answers to each of the following questions. Remember! Your comfort and convenience, not to mention your budget and design goals, are the highest priority, so be sure to interview more than one architect before making your decision.

1. What does the architect see as important issues or considerations in your project? What are the challenges of the project?
2. How will the architect approach your project?
3.
How will the architect gather information about your needs, goals, etc.?
4.
How will the architect establish priorities and make decisions?
5. Who from the architecture firm will you be dealing with directly? Is it the same person who will be designing the project? Who will be designing your project?
6.
How interested is the architect in this project?
7.
How busy is the architect?
8. What are the steps in the design process?
9.
How does the architect organize the process?
10. What does the architect expect you to provide?
11. What is the architect's design philosophy?
12. What is the architect's experience/track record with cost estimating?
13.
What will the architect show you along the way to explain the project? Will you see drawings or sketches? 14. What services does the architect provide during construction?
15.
How disruptive will construction be? How long does the architect expect it to take to complete your project? 16. What sets this architect apart from the rest?
17. How does the architect establish fees?
18. What would the architect expect the fee to be for this project?
19.
If the scope of the project changes, how will additional fees be determined?
20.
Do you have a list of past clients that the architect has worked with?



There is further useful advice in the RIAI consumer section in relation to engaging a registered architect etc.

Best of luck!
I think these are some great questions. In addition to these questions, you may also want to ask what considerations they give to the safety and well being of your family. I think that this should be high on the list of priorities for any good architect. You should also keep this in mind as you choose materials, such as paint, carpet, etc... since these things can contain chemicals which may pollute your environment. Your architect should be willing to help you with these things.
 
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