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Interviewing An Architect? Top 20 Questions to Ask

  My company is a bit unique in that we specialize in Architect driven construction.  We believe that the first step toward a high quality build or remodel is to hire an AIA registered Architect.  Here’s a brief outline of how most of our projects start:
– Client interviews several Architects then chooses one they think is a good fit for their project.
– Early in the Design/Development phase the Architect tells the client to interview 2-3 builders they have worked with to find one they like.  (90% of our business is Architect referrals like this)
– Risinger Homes is hired with a Professional Services Agreement before plans get too far along so we can help with budgeting/engineering/building science, etc.  We typically “ballpark” the construction costs early in the design phase so clients will know what they are planning to build will generally cost.  This is really helpful to clients so they don’t end up with a finished plan that’s 2x what they wanted to spend.
– Once final plans are completed we send them out to bid with our sub-contractor partners.  A final budget is established and we sign a Construction Contract to start work.
  This is a bit simplified but you get the idea.  The traditional method of “going out to bid” with 3 builders & completed plans  is a very bad idea and our method of getting involved early saves a ton of stress/hassle in the process.  By interviewing us early in the process we establish a Team between Architect, Client, and Risinger Homes.  We disclose our fee structure at the start then work “open book” to show everyone where the costs of the project are headed with the given plans & specifications.  We establish trust with our clients early with our integrity and honest bidding/estimating and the final product really shows!
  So with this process in mind here are 20 great questions from the American Institute of Architects to ask when you are first interviewing Architects for your project.  Best, Matt Risinger

20 Questions to Ask an Architect
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 that 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 sets this architect apart from the rest?
9.                       How does the architect establish fees?
10.                  What would the architect expect the fee to be for this project?
11.                  What are the steps in the design process?
12.                  How does the architect organize the process?
13.                  What does the architect expect you to provide?
14.                  What is the architect’s design philosophy?
15.                  What is the architect’s experience/track record with cost estimating?
16.                  What will the architect show you along the way to explain the project? Will you see models, drawings, or sketches?
17.                  If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? 
18.                  What services does the architect provide during construction?  Will we have a regular meeting time during construction with Builder/Architect/Client?
19.                  How disruptive will construction be? How long does the architect expect it to take to complete your project?
20.                  Do you have a list of past clients that your firm has worked with?