The importance of the architect is often overlooked in home improvements. After all, the general contractor is the one getting the work done, right?
Well, choosing a good architect can benefit your renovation project greatly. Not only can the architect give you suggestions for better design, they can also suggest ways for you to make optimal use of home space and choose less expensive construction materials.
Here are five questions to ask yourself before choosing an architect:
1. Does the architect have experience in a project of your size?
Make sure the architect has experience in your kind of project. If you’re doing a full house renovation, ensure that the architect you choose has done a project that big. You don’t want to serve as a “learning experience” for an architect who has only done small jobs in the past.
2. Does the architect keep up to date on changes in the building code?
Every city has a building code that homeowners must follow when renovating their home. This code consists of a set of rules that a city puts in place to make sure that all buildings have a minimum level of safety.
Building codes can be quite complex, and they contain many do’s and don’ts for home renovations. These rules also change from time-to-time.
When you or your architect submits the drawings for your home improvements to the city government, the drawings will be evaluated against the current city building code. This is why it’s important that you hire an architect who stays up to date with changes in the building code. If they don’t you may be submitting drawings that aren’t in line with new rules in the building code. This will greatly increase the amount of time it will take you to get your building permits.
3. Is the architect a procrastinator?
Putting things off can be good (do you really need that extra helping of dessert?), but a procrastinating architect can extend the time it takes to get your reno done. And in home renovations, time really is money.
When checking the references of an architect, make sure to ask how quickly they turn around requests. This is especially important if the architect will be dealing with permits and answering questions from city officials on your behalf.
4. How good is the architect at accepting criticism?
This is a tough one to figure out, but choosing an architect who is stuck in their ways could add unnecessary time to your home improvement project. Keep in mind that renovations can involve many people (especially renovations that change the structure of your home). Your architect might need to deal with engineers, city officials, sub-contractors…not to mention you!
Choosing an architect who is flexible can be critical in getting your building permits and construction work underway.
5. Does the architect draw by hand, or use a CAD (computerized) system?
CAD (which stands for computer-aided design) is a system where an architect uses computer software to create building plans (as opposed to drawing those plans by hand). The potential downside of hand-drawn plans is that they may be harder for both your contractor and city officials to read.
If city officials have to contact your architect for clarification of hand-written numbers that are illegible, it might take longer for you to receive your permits. Similarly, if your contractor can’t read the plans, they will also have to get clarification from the architect.
Find A Local Architect
To find an architect in your area, check the database of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada.