Choosing an architect

A woman with curly dark hair and in a green shirt and a man in a striped shirt and baseball cap pore over house plans.
If initial talks with an architect sound good, meet to discuss your project in detail.
If you watch the UK television show Grand Designs you will no doubt soon appreciate the incredible value a good architect brings to the design and construction process.

A good architect will work with you to create a great design that is inspiring, meets your needs and is mindful of your budget, aiming to directly improve your quality of life and your property’s value – ideally, all with minimum fuss and maximum enjoyment.

Finding an architect – the process

The right architects can be hard to find, but the following should point you in the right direction.

1. Talk to friends and work colleagues who have used architects and go and look at their finished projects.

2. Look at architect signs on construction sites in your local area and contact the owners about their experience.

3. Look through magazines featuring work done by local architects.

4. Search for architects using The Australian Institute of Architects ‘Find An Architect’ directory, Sanctuary magazine and its online directory, contact Archicentre or use other print and online magazines and directories.

Once you’ve found a few architects or firms that appeal, refer to the next section of this article, ‘What to look for when choosing an architect’, to help you sort through your shortlist.

Making contact

As a first port of call, phone the architect’s office and ask if they can help with your project. A director or senior architect should be happy to chat with you over the phone to determine if your project is something they can help you with.

Architects can help you with all or some of the following:

  • A full architectural service, from design to construction completion.
  • Sketched design plans and elevations only. If you choose this service, you can take the project on from there with your builder or draftsperson.
  • A review of designs drafted by you, a draftsperson or another architect.
  • Advice on a new house you are considering purchasing to see if it can be renovated easily and within your budget.
  • Advice on renovation options and potential cost issues.
  • Advice on how to improve the sustainable design of your proposed new or existing home.

An architect should be able to give you some advice over the phone about the services they offer and the types of fees they charge – including whether they charge for initial consultations – so you can see if these align with your needs and budget. If what you hear all sounds good, organise to meet to talk through your project in greater detail. If not … call another architect.

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