How to find the right architect for YOU!

You’ve been thinking about renovating for a while, and now finally you’re in a financial position to do it. You know you’re going to be spending a lot of money, so you want to make sure you get the best return for your investment and have decided to use an architect (smart choice!). But how do you choose an architect?

There’s a lot to consider and it makes sense to take your time, rather than just picking the person who did an amazing job on your friend’s place. A building is something that you will be living with for a long time, so it’s important to find someone who can understand your vision and help you to bring it to life in a way that suits how you will use the space.

  1. Project type

Is it a commercial or residential building? Do you want someone who can provide consultancy on the entire interior design, right down to which chairs would suit the space best? Are you looking for a particular style? There’s no point in engaging someone who only does sleek warehouse conversions when you’re renovating a beachside cottage on a small block. Is the building heritage listed? If so, you might want to use someone who has experience in creatively working around any development restrictions that may apply.

  1.  Ask around
    Yes, I know I just said not to just use the architect that did your friend’s place. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t talk to their architect and get a feel for their style, experience and personality. Personal recommendations are an excellent way to get a short-list of architects for your project and if you know the people whose projects an architect has worked on that makes viewing the results in the flesh easy.
  2. Search online
    Personal recommendations are great, but for a broader view of available architects in your area, head online. Always take the time to check that the person you select is a Registered Architect. Some websites that might be helpful include Find An Architectand NSW Architects Registration Board.
  3. Chemistry
    If you love an architect’s design, but you just don’t get on, that’s a recipe for disaster. Most architectural projects are at least a year long, if not longer. Make contact with your short-listed architects and discuss your project with them before you decide. Make sure you are comfortable with them and remember they need to be comfortable with you too.

If our chemistry is more bicarb soda and vinegar than emulsified salad dressing, a year is a long time to be speaking to each other several times a week, or even several times a day at times of peak activity. Similar communication styles, being able to have open and honest conversations, and understanding each others viewpoint are critical to achieving a successful outcome.

  1. Take the time to make sure you know what you want 
    Even the best architect in the world isn’t going to be able to satisfy your brief if you can’t clearly articulate what it is you want. Take the time to be clear on what it is you want to achieve. Think about the number of bedrooms you require, how you see your family living in the space, or what your business needs. Perhaps your family is full of introverts, so you want a mix of cosy spaces for solitude, not open plan living. Or you want your restaurant to have an open feel, but not feel clinical and noisy. If the architect can’t understand the things you want, then it’s not going to be a successful project. Scrapbooks can be useful to illustrate the style that you are after – and to highlight things you both like and don’t like.

Embarking on a construction project or a renovation can feel scary. There’s huge amounts of money at stake and a fear that you won’t be happy with your decisions when the project is complete – that your internal vision won’t match the reality. Taking the time to choose the right architect can help to allay these fears and ensure that your end result is everything you hoped for.

by Ruth Newman