One of the first steps to building the custom home of your dreams is having a design plan in place. If you plan to start the process with a custom home builder, you can. However, if an architect is a person you’d like to help get you through those first steps, then there are certain questions you’ll want to ask when interviewing potential architects for your project.
There are several factors to take into consideration when selecting the right architect, from their experience and certification to their rates and their familiarity with your preferred style. Additionally, you want to make sure the professional you choose will collaborate and communicate effectively with you and your Houston home builder during the design phase to create a more seamless, positive experience for everyone involved.
Interview Questions to Ask an Architect
As you begin the process of finding an architect to design your custom home in Houston, ask for recommendations from people you trust. That may include family members, friends, neighbors, a realtor, or other professionals who work in the construction industry. Since it's important for your custom home builder and architect to work well together over the course of your project, you might also ask your builder if they have a recommendation for an architect.
Do preliminary research on each by perusing their website and social media profile and reading reviews. Check their records to make sure they’re licensed, insured, and not currently facing any legal challenges. After that, the best way to narrow down your choices and select an architect is to meet with them in person for an interview. What questions should you ask an architect in an interview? Here are a few to get you started.
1. What is your past experience?
Before hiring an architect in Houston, be sure to get an understanding of the type of projects they usually work on as well as how many they have completed. While having experience in many types of projects is great, it’s more important that they are competent and practiced when it comes to designing luxury custom homes specifically. Additionally, you want someone who has previously worked with your chosen architectural style, whether it be modern, transitional, or craftsman. Also, find out how long they’ve worked in the Houston area, which could influence their familiarity with local building and zoning codes, design guidelines, and permitting processes.
2. How does your design process work?
The architectural design process is typically divided into a few standard phases, such as schematic design, design development, construction documents, and construction administration. However, each professional has their own approach to the design process. It’s important to find out how they operate, how you’ll be involved, and at what point will they collaborate with your Houston home builder.
3. How do you charge for your services?
Architects normally charge clients one of four ways: an hourly rate, a flat/negotiated fee, based on the project’s square footage, or as a percentage of construction costs. There are pros and cons to each method, but what’s most important is whether you find their rate acceptable and what their normal payment schedule looks like. Also find out what services they provide for their base fee, what additional services they offer, and at what cost. Some helpful follow-up questions include whether there are any unexpected costs you might accrue that aren’t covered in your contract, and how will these be presented to you?
4. How do you manage/control the budget?
Successfully managing a budget requires a team effort from you, your builder, and your architect. Find out what measures the architect traditionally takes to keep the project within budget, as well as what they would expect from you as a client. Also, are they willing to work with your home builder to integrate suggested cost-saving measures during the design phase? Keeping the project within budget is one of many reasons your architect and builder should collaborate as early in the process as possible.
5. What is the estimated timeline for completion?
Setting a realistic timeline for both the design and construction phases is important to ensure the project runs smoothly and within budget. Find out how soon the architect can start working on your project and how long they anticipate it will take to complete design plans for your new Houston home. Having a builder that will follow through on your architect’s plans is also important for the timeline. A follow-up question might be, how will you work with my builder to keep the project on time (and keep my project on budget)?
6. Who will be my point of contact?
It’s important to ask if there will be one staff member dedicated to managing your project and how you and your home builder can stay in contact with them. If they are inaccessible, is there another staff member you can talk to? For a smaller firm or an independent architect, make sure they have the appropriate time and availability to commit to your project and that they can provide you with the level of communication you desire.
7. Do you plan to be involved during the construction process?
Some architects create your design plans and hand them over to you while others provide oversight during the construction phase. During your architect interview, ask about their degree of participation in your custom home construction phase. At the very least, if questions arise about the plans during construction, will they be available to provide answers and clarifications?
8. What are potential challenges that may arise and how do you deal with them?
Another question to ask your architect during the interview is if they foresee any particular challenges to your custom home building project that could cause difficulties or make it go over budget. Changes due to unforeseen issues are common in construction projects. In general, there are issues that are more common than others. Ask your potential architect if they will suggest alternatives and what their process is for communicating with clients and making design changes?
9. Will you collaborate with my custom home builder?
To make your luxury Houston home building process as smooth and efficient as possible, it’s helpful to bring on both your architect and home builder from the start. They will have the opportunity to collaborate in crafting a design for your home that both looks good on paper and can be feasibly built within your budget. Additionally, it enables your home builder and architect to work together to catch any potential construction issues during the design phase. This will allow for design changes before any purchases of materials are made, which can then cause budget changes. Find out if your prospective architect is on board with the arrangement.
Teaming Up Your Architect and Home Builder
Before you hire a Houston architect, make sure they’re not only affordable, experienced, and reputable, but also the right fit for your project. Southern Green Builders work with architects from the very beginning to ensure a custom Houston home that suits your vision and your budget. Contact Southern Green Builders to talk with you and your architect about your future home.