Some things you need to consider before hiring an architect

There are a few important things to factor in if you’re looking for an architect to design your home.

Unless you already know the architect, you should shop around before deciding on the right one to design your new home or renovation.

Architects offer different fee structures and services, which can make it difficult to compare quotes easily.


Tips to help you decide on your preferred architect

  • Budget, timeframe and what you want are the three key elements to address when briefing an architect. 
  • Get a feasibility report before any designs are started. This will give you a guide on cost per square metre, inclusions and exclusions, issues with the site and any complexities involved in the building process.
  • Get clarification on inclusions such as blinds/curtains, floor coverings, appliances, landscaping, fixtures and fittings.
  • Use a ‘mood book’ to brief an architect. This is simply a file that includes images of homes, rooms, materials, fixtures and designs you like. Anything that eliminates interpretation makes it easier for everyone.
  • Check out examples of their work and talk with their customers. Determine if they have experience with your type of construction, particularly if you have a difficult site, or unusual construction methods or materials.
  • Check if there are additional fees. Most architects charge a progressive fee for the different stages of the project. Initial design concepts, first drawings, final drawings, briefing of builders and ongoing project management if required. This may be split between fixed costs until building starts, usually charged as a percentage of the build cost, then an hourly rate for project management.
  • Confirm how many designs they will initially provide and the flexibility for revisions. You’ll also need to know how much influence they allow you in the design process and how redesigns affect cost.
  • Clarify the level of detail of the drawings. Do they include electrical plans with data points, switch heights, reflected ceiling plans showing bulkheads and cooling vents and the like, so a builder can work directly from the plans?
  • Discuss fees and permits. There will be council fees, engineering, geotechnical and surveyor’s fees, as well as permits and other unexpected payments to make. Your architect should be able to prepare the submissions and applications for these, so ask if they are included in their fees.
  • Establish regular meetings. If your architect is going to be your project manager, then establish regular meetings where you, the architect and the builder meet to discuss work in progress and make decisions as you go. This eliminates any delays or indecision and records decisions via meeting notes shared between all parties.

There are three key elements to any building project — quality, time and cost. It’s often difficult to get all three in harmony. The closer you work with your architect and builder and the clearer the responsibilities of each, the easier the building process.