The Questions To Ask

The Design and Planning of Your New Home

The design and planning of your new home is the most important aspect of a richly rewarding process which will establish the value of your creation.  Your role is key in creating the roadmap to a beautiful, comfortable, safe, and energy-efficient personalized home.  Once a community and individual property have been selected, you can move forward with the programming, planning, and creative phase of the project.  The complications of today’s building program are often best addressed through a team effort; so your next step in the process will be to assemble a team of experts.  Initially, there will be your architect, structural engineer, and builder.  Others such as interior designer, kitchen and bath designer, landscape architect/designer, system designer, lighting designer, media consultant, and energy auditor may follow.  Although the architect will generally be the lead professional, when this team of professionals have the opportunity to collaborate before ground is broken, you will reap the rewards for years to come.  Their blend of experience and expertise can give you insights into the wonderful potential of your home and site that you never would have considered.


The Creative Process Starts With…

The creative process starts with a strong collaboration between client, architect, and builder.  It takes a seamless participation of all parties to bring out a truly vibrant and unique design that will be your special home for years to come.  The right architect will not only have a strong creative ability; but, he will also have the technical savvy of years of experience with design and construction technology.  Architects that maintain a reputation for superior residential design do so because their buildings are stunningly conceived, technically sound, and well crafted within your budget.  As the key member of this design partnership you will need to provide your architect with a well thought out program, an idea notebook, certain relevant site information, and above all, a well conceived budget.  From there the architect will begin the preliminary design phase to create schematic concepts and bring your ideas into focus.  Once your wish list, site and budget have been translated into graphic form, the next stage will address the technical drawings – called “Contract Documents” or “Working Drawings.”  Upon completion of these drawings, work with the contractor will begin and a building permit procured.  As the project moves to the construction phase, most of your involvement may be with your builder.  At this point, the architect acts in your behalf as a consultant to assure that the spirit of the design and intent of the working drawings and specifications are followed exactly.  During the construction phase you may also with to retain your architect to oversee payments to the contractor, review shop drawings, provide more detailed interior design services, and, perhaps, provide communication with the builder.


Your Choice of an Architect

Your choice of an architect to assemble your dreams must be well-considered and most firms will allow an hour or more for this important conversation.  You should be well-prepared and bring relevant site information including the site plot and topography (if available), your program (wish list), square footage information, and your idea notebook and pictures of houses that you appreciate.  The following is a list of informative questions to ask the prospective architect:

  1. What does the client see as important issues or considerations in the project and what challenges does the architect anticipate?
  2. How interested is the architect in this project and how busy is he/she?
  3. What are the steps in the design process and which services comprise the fee?
  4. If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? How will these fees be justified?
  5. What services does the architect provide during construction?
  6. Does the architecture firm have a specific design style, language, or philosophy?
  7. What information will you need to provide to the Architect?
  8. What unique qualities and experience bring to your project?
  9. In what manner might the architect provide cost evaluation?
  10. What services are basic to the project and what optional services does this firm offer?
  11. Which presentation techniques does the architect offer to explain the progress of your project?
  12. What software does the firm employ?
  13. Who in the firm will represent and design your project?
  14. What is the architect’s background with this type of project?
  15. Does the architect have a list of past clients and references?