Your architect will most likely ask you some variation of the following 10 questions when you first meet. In order to expedite the process and get your project off the ground you might want to think through the following list. These questions are just the tip of the iceberg and each one has various sub-questions that could follow. These questions can also serve as a good place for a couple to ensure they are on the same page.
1. What is my project budget?
Knowing your budget is crucial to any project’s success. Even if it’s an estimated guess, it's better than nothing. The budget you set will determine how much “house” you can afford and what level of finish your home will be built to. If you plan on taking out a construction loan your financial institution will be the best place to help you determine what you qualify for and how much you can afford.
2. What is my project schedule?
They say, “The best time to plant a tree if you want shade today, was 20 years ago.” The same goes for design and construction. The design and construction process can take a long time. Even for a small project you can typically count on 4-6 weeks of design time, 4-6 weeks for permitting and 6-12 months of construction time. Start planning today if you plan to be in your home by next year. Most architects and engineers understand that everyone is in a hurry but there is a lot of time required to design, coordinate, and plan for a successful project. This is a process that you don’t want to rush if possible.
3. What is the main goal of my project?
In order to find a solution we need to narrow down what problem we are needing to solve? Is the project primarily resolving a spatial need? Are you wanting to up-size due to growth of family? Or are you a socialite wanting to host more friends and events? Is your renovation necessary because of a poor functioning kitchen or bathroom? Or are you wanting to update and upgrades systems and fixtures due to age? What problem is this project going to solve?
4. What spaces do I need?
What spaces are essential to your project? What spaces would be nice but aren’t required? Write down a list of spaces and give them a priority level.
5. What is the scope of my project?
How much help do you need from your architect? If it's a remodel… How big is the remodel? What features are they needing to look at or take into account during the design phase? Is it a custom home? Are you needing help with designing the site? Could you use their help in finding other pros such as landscape architects, civil engineers, or design specialty items such as pool areas, theater rooms, sports courts, or spas? Defining or limiting the scope of work for your architect could save you money and time.
6. What level of finish/grade of material do I expect?
What finish grade quality are you are expecting in your home. Are you planning on using standard, IKEA, or custom built cabinets in your kitchen? Would you say that your level of finish is a standard, mid-grade, or high end? The level of final finish and grade of materials greatly affects the price of the home.
7. What do I love about my existing home?
What you love about your existing home is a good indication of what’s important to you. This can be a design feature in your next home and can be expanded and improved upon to be the heart of your project.
8. What do I hate about my existing home?
Like the previous question, what isn’t working in your existing space is a good indication of what you will want to ensure is thought through in your new space. What is it specifically that isn’t working? The more specific you can get the better able your designer will be able to resolve the issue.
9. Do I have a survey and geo-technical report?
If your project consists of a new build or an addition a site survey of your lot will be required. Your architect needs an accurate survey in order to start site planning, review setbacks and height restrictions, and start the design phase. If you are doing a new construction project you will need a geo-technical report. This allows the architect to better understand the soil conditions and where to place the building on the lot. These items do take some time and the architect will need them prior to starting design.
10. Is there any specialty features that I would love to have?
What’s going to make your project special? Is there an element or a view that you are wanting to center the design on? Would you love an indoor courtyard an indoor pool or special amenity that needs to be taken into account? Your architect will want to know this in order to budget time, resources, and space within the project to account for it.
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