Architects don’t have a prescriptive format for how they work. Be it the design stages, what’s included in their services, the type of projects they take onboard, and most particularly, their fees. So it’s understandable that a new client can find it difficult to compare different architects.
Here are some things you should look out for in your efforts before making a decision.
Architects have been trained for years about how to design a building. They take onboard a range of guidelines that determine the design they present you with, including:
- Your budget.
- Your brief.
- Your aesthetic and personal preferences.
- Council and local law guidelines/design codes.
- Environmental design, including sun orientation.
- Buildability and your timeline.
- The engineering/ infrastructure design.
A good architect will be able to consider these aspects and design something with all these factors in mind. Don’t forget, an architect’s job is not just to design for you (the client) but for your family as it evolves, as well as for the people who will live in your home after you.
A mediocre architect will just take instruction from you, only focusing on the aspects that are important to you, such as giving you a box-like design and tacking on the aesthetics.
A bad architect won’t consider these aspects.
I’m about to head into an arena that less creative people might consider a little floral, but we need to chat about this.
Some people think that as long as they like all the features in their home, it will all gel nicely. But that’s unrealistic – we like different things and feel bored when faced with too much of the same features. In order to have a home that’s decked out with ideas that fold into each other cohesively, there needs to be a story that informs all design decisions.
So, let’s say for example that you, the client, came to me saying you loved the aesthetic of Chanel. That would inform the colour selection, the restraint of the spaces, the furniture selection, and the way the house interacts with the street. Having a grounded concept will inform every detailed decision, and – especially because you’ve hired an architect to make decisions for you – you want to be assured that these decisions are those you will be happy with.
A good architect will be interested to learn more about you personally and will observe little details about you and your existing home, such as what mug you like drinking from and what you’re wearing. That said, most potential clients wear all black in anticipation of meeting their architect and wanting to make a positive impression. Just wear what you love best – express yourself.
A mediocre architect will just ask you what you like and design that for you. Some people might read that and wonder, “What’s wrong with that?”. However, if that’s what you want, then I think you’re missing an opportunity to let a professional design something unique for your vital living dilemmas, backed up by years of training and practice developing ideas and solutions. A good architect will have ideas you would never think of.
A bad architect will try to convince you to proceed with an idea you don’t necessarily like, want or need because of an idea they may have. I recently had a client with an enormous house, and the brief was to redeploy disused spaces. The client explained that the architect before me had suggested putting a rooftop garden above their rumpus room. She never asked for more outdoor space nor wanted to hang out on her roof.