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8 Tips for Choosing an Architect

Planning a dream house requires an honest appraisal of your needs. Avoid the blueprint blues by selecting the right architect


1. Create a wish list.

Before the first meeting with a prospective architect, write down your basic thoughts about your house?size, style, layout, special features, how you plan to live in it. This becomes the foundation upon which the architect will piece together your “program,” or building plan.


2. Check the portfolio.

At that initial meeting, look through the portfolio for a variety of styles. Page after page of similar styles might mean an architect is interested in designing for himself rather than you, the client.

3. Value chemistry.

Although paging through the portfolio is important, you also want to get to know his personality. Notice how he dresses, carries himself, and communicates. Is he excited about your project? Do you like him?

“The client and I don’t have to have the same personality. We don’t have to like the same music,” says architect Ruard Veltman. “But we should be inspired by each other.”


4. Be open and honest.

The only way an architect can meet your goals is to be privy to your world. That includes details about your daily life, as well as the truth about your budget and schedule. Once a project is under way, be forthright with your architect. If you don’t like a roofline sketch, tell him right away, so he can draw another one.

5. Choose a listener.

Thoughtful answers to your questions and copious note-taking are sure signs that the architect is paying attention.

6. Communicate your vision.

“ Pictures say more than words can,” says architect Stan Dixon. Which is why it’s common?and effective?to present an architect with a folder of magazine clippings. Dixon says that it’s important to have quality magazines and books from which to pull images.

You can also take him on a drive, pointing out architecture you like and don’t like (“what you don’t like can be just as revealing,” Dixon says). Walk through your house, naming not only your favorite aspects but also problems you hope to solve. It’s OK to present a sketch or computer-generated drawing but only as a jumping-off point. Expecting your architect to stick to your drawing is a mistake.


7. Take notes.

Ideally, your architect will keep a good written record of what's communicated during meetings. He will copy the notes back to you afterward to confirm your understanding of what was decided.

8. Strive for collaboration.

“ Some architects approach a residential project strictly as an opportunity to design something,” says Jerry Morosco, architect and author of How To Work With an Architect. “The more mutually beneficial way is to conceive something together with the client. That’s what a good architect does?helps create a three-dimensional representation of what you had in mind all along but couldn’t conceive by yourself.”

 

AND: Architecture & Design
David A. D'Amore,
AIA407 South Perry Street
Johnstown


Plan-It Building Design
Johnstown


Smith Steven
E PE 25 West Fulton
Gloversville

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