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Tips for working with your architect

Laura Carson Miller is freelance lifestyle writer in Atlanta, writing for magazines and the web. Her favorite subjects include beauty, health/wellness, and financial issues. She is also an avid cook, gardener, fashionista and interior st...

How to prepare to meet with an architect

When you hire an architect to help with your new home design or home renovation, it’s wise to know how to best use their knowledge and creative talents to help you get what you want in the end result.
Couple meeting with architect

An architect can make the most of your space and aesthetic requirements, while also providing the most bang for your design buck.

Before you meet with your architect, do your own due diligence using the tips below. The more you know about what you want and need from your project, the more easily your design professional can help make your domestic dream come true.

I spoke with Greg Miller, AIA, and principal at Cooper Carry, to get a better understanding of how to bridge the gap between homeowner and architect. He offered this important advice:

  1. If you don’t know exactly what you want your project to look like, at least try to explain how you need it to function.
  2. Do your research to understand construction costs, then do your best to arrive at a budget.
  3. Review lots of magazines and take photos of homes or rooms you like.
  4. Know what you are buying. Architectural services vary greatly, from one architect to the next, and depend on the type of project you have. Understand the deliverables (from the architect); for example, will you require 3D photo images of the proposed solution or just permit drawings?
  5. Understand the project schedule and payment schedule for services rendered.
  6. Provide as much "program" information as early as possible. The architect will charge extra if you are constantly making changes or requests once the design process has started. For example: If you would like a laundry chute in the master bedroom, it's best to let the architect know that up front.

Obviously, the more you know about what you want in the first place, the easier it will be for your designer to help you reach those goals. If you really don’t have a clue what you want or even what you need, you can start by making a list of what you need your space to do. Once you’ve established what the space needs to accomplish, you can focus more on design details and spatial layouts.

You can also jot down a list of what you like about your current home or specific room and what it lacks. Affirming what works is a valuable tool in planning for your future space. Your architect will be able to make the best use of the space you have available and can help with such things as storage solutions, suggesting proper materials and ensuring that your project is completed in a timely manner.

As with hiring any professional, it is encouraged that you check the credentials and reputation of your architect before hiring them. It’s a good idea to review their work and perhaps even speak to some of their prior or current clients. An architect can make your new home design or renovation go much more smoothly and is well worth the time and expense invested for their expertise.

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