The American Institute of Architects developed and published a list of 25 questions that you should ask before hiring an architect.  In some cases, the questions are also worth asking during the process of working with an architect. If you’re in the initial stages of planning a project, it may prove valuable to answer, review, and rank these in order of importance.   By doing so, you’ll immediately narrow your focus and determine your project priorities and architect search criteria. For example, let’s say you’ve interviewed a half dozen architecture firms and have narrowed your focus to two firms, Firm A and Firm B.  At the surface, Firm A and Firm B seem capable of delivering a project that you’d be happy with.  How do you decide who to hire? With a list of questions and answers ranked in order of most important to least important, you immediately have a decision-making tool at your disposal. For example, you’ve ranked “Who from the architecture firm will I be dealing with on a regular basis?  Is this the person who will design my project?”  as #1 on your list because you want to deal directly with the principal of the architecture firm and don’t want the design handed off to someone else.  You see the value of having the principal’s direct involvement because he/she has the most invested in a project’s success.  You also want to communicate directly with the designer/principal so that communication is efficient and effective. In evaluating the firms, you determine the following: Firm A is a small firm, where the principal is directly involved with every project and each decision is made in response to client comments.  You feel confident that you’ll be able to communicate regularly and directly with the designer/principal throughout your project. Firm B is a slightly larger firm, so you’ll be dealing with multiple people, sometimes the principal, and sometimes one of the firm’s employees.  You feel less confident that you’ll be able to communicate regularly and directly with the designer/principal throughout your project. Using your ranked list of questions and answers, Firm A better meets your requirements and is a logical choice for your project. Contact REV Architecture today and let us be your Firm A! The questions that follow were published at http://www.aia.org/value/questions/AIAS076356.

Experience

  • What is your design philosophy?
  • What sets your firm apart from other architects with similar experience?
  • Do you have experience with the building type and size of my project?
  • Will you share with me a portfolio of similar projects and provide a list of client references?
  • Who from the architecture firm will I be dealing with on a regular basis? Is this the person who will design my project?

My Project

  • Are you interested enough in this project to make it a priority?
  • What challenges do you foresee for my project?
  • What do you see as the important issues or considerations in my project?
  • What is your estimated timetable for my project?
  • What means will you use to collect information about my needs, goals, etc.?
  • How will you help me to fully understand the scope and sequence of the project? Will you utilize models, drawings, or computer animation?

Design

  • What are the steps in the design process, and how are they organized?
  • What criteria will be used to establish priorities and make design decisions?
  • What do you expect me to provide?
  • How disruptive will construction be?
  • What role do you have during construction? Am I expected to work with the contractor directly?

Green Design

  • Do you have experience with “green” or sustainable design?
  • Do you regularly integrate low or no cost sustainable design strategies into projects?
  • Considering the many areas that may be affected by sustainable design, how will you determine which options to pursue?
  • If sustainable design technologies are implemented, do upfront costs exist that may affect the construction budget? What are the expected pay back times?

Fees

  • How do you establish fees?
  • In anticipation of a formal proposal with costs, what would you expect your fee to be for this project?
  • What is included in your basic services and what services would incur additional fees?
  • If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? How will these fees be justified? How will this be communicated to me?
  • What is your track record with completing a project within the original budget?
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