What to look for when choosing an architect

Expert Advice Dated:  April 23, 2014
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“The Creativity, Attention to details and professional advice of an architect can be invaluable to the success of any build project.” From suggestions on how to make the best use of space and light, to fittings, materials and fixtures, the professional input can give the smallest of projects the ‘Wow factor’.

When looking for an architect, the quality of his design, the overall output of the project and also the professional reputation are important factors to be considered. But ultimately, it boils down to finding the right personality who fits into the challenges of the Job. 

It is also important to find an architect whom you are comfortable working with. Because an architectural project is a capital investment of large scale, it’s crucial to have the right chemistry between client and architect. The client should make sure that the architect understands him and designs their project and not his own. Also, one needs see examples of their previous work and if possible, arrange to visit finished projects and talk to previous clients about their experiences.

Even if as a client, you like the architect’s style of work but are not compatible with the architect himself, the final design shall not stand out. During initial consultations, ask lots of questions, and communicate clearly your goals and expectations. Also, the architect should be ready to understand clients’ needs and not try to forcibly imply his own. The client should learn how their potential architect thinks and works, and how well he or she understands what you want. Don’t pick an architect who does not listen. 

The most thoughtful architects are as careful in selecting their clients as owners are in selecting architects. They are as interested in a successful project as you are, and they know that good architecture results from fruitful collaboration between architects and clients. Even the simplest of projects are very complex. Many of the owner's needs and expectations come into focus only in the process of design. As the owner and architect mutually evaluate alternative approaches to the project's design, priorities are clarified and new possibilities emerge. Though good architects can adapt their stylistic approach to the clients taste and fulfill their expectations.

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Any number of architects can come up with creative solutions for a project, but the difference is how well an architect matches his design to the clients taste and lifestyle. 

Once you finalize, verify that you will work directly with the architect you are interviewing. Sometimes lead architects attend initial meetings and then the project is assigned to junior architects. Always interview the same people you will work with to ensure you communicate effectively as a team.

The architect should be able to show his ideas to the client in the language they are comfortable with. Some clients may relate to the space with 2D drawings but others may require rendered 3D images. One should make sure; the potential architect can thus help you understand their ideas and drawings according to your need.  

Another major challenge now a day is the ‘Project Management’ of the Site.  Usually on the smaller projects, the architect himself plays this role to a limited extent but bigger projects demands a need for some professional project management setup. Either ways it is important that the architect has a good reputation as an efficient and skillful project manager during his past projects to implement the project flawlessly with all the latest system and technological capabilities for the same.

One of the most important points to look for in an architect is to know if he can give you your dream project in your budget. Usually architects charge a percentage of the total cost on the services provided. So, it’s important to get an approx estimate from the architect, so you can manage your budget.

The client is expected to spend many hours talking with the architect during the course of the project, so it’s best they get along. Does the architect have the skills, resources and talents to meet your needs?” If all these questions are answered, you have found the architect you want to work with, because “Ultimately what we hope for is that the solution meets your needs, brings you satisfaction, and even some level of productivity and delight.”

At ‘Milind Pai Architects’ we also believe that it should “Enhance your lifestyle and increase productivity."

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