Custom Home Design - Hiring an Architect
By Andrew Stratton
You are finally there - you've made it! It's time for you to get the house of your dreams. That big binder filled with magazine clippings - a collage of colors, textures and designs - can finally be put into a cohesive custom home design just for you.
Now, maybe you think you know exactly what you want and all you have to do is hire a contractor to take your vision and build it. For a project to this magnitude and import, hiring an architect to handle the design and to work with the contractor is a better move.
Why? Because an architect brings certain things to the table that will ensure the house of your dreams becomes just that. What are these special qualifications and how do you know you're getting the right person for the job?
Here are a few things to look for and questions to ask when shopping for an architect to breathe life into your custom home design:
1. Is he licensed in your state? Architects must obtain a license to work in any state. If your "architect" doesn't have one, he is really just a designer. The difference is not just the piece of paper, it is the skill and knowledge necessary to get that license.
2. Can you see examples of his work? Either on paper or in person, you always want to see your architect's finished products. This is important not only to ensure he does quality work, but that you also like it. If a majority of his work is contemporary chic and you want traditional colonial, will he be able to handle it?
3. Does he carry enough liability insurance? Any licensed architect will carry his own insurance, but you should see if it is enough to comfortably cover your custom home design. Insurance is another difference between architects and designers - the architect is required to carry it whereas the designer does not have any regulations regarding liability. Typically, it is the client who has to take out a policy on the project when a designer is used.
4. Does he have time for your project? This is your dream home and you've waited and waited to see it come to life. Now that your custom home design is about to be realized, you want an architect who will treat it with the personal attention and time you know it deserves.
5. What services can he provide and what will you need? Architects can do as little or as much as you want. He can draw up the plans and be done with the project, but it is a better idea to have him work with the contractor throughout the process to make sure his plans are followed exactly.
Your architect can negotiate contracts, manage the construction site, come up with the budget, manage it and much more. If you're comfortable with the architect, it will be easier to give him the freedom to manage the entire project. Of course, he will discuss with you on important issues. But you don't really have time to micro-manage, do you?
Hiring can architect to breathe life into your custom design home is a good idea. Whether you hire through a firm or an individual, always interview the person who will be doing the work, to make sure he is clear on your vision and that you can work together. Once the hiring is done, you can relax a little and know that your dream house is in good hands.