Tips for hiring an Architect or Designer

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Tips for hiring an Architect or Designer


Gather your thoughts:  Work with your spouse, partner or on your own to establish a list of your wants and needs.  These can be hard to separate at first and your designer/architect will work with you once they are hired to qualify your list.  Start by asking questions vs. giving answers.  There is always more than one way to create an outcome.  List the things you like.  If you don’t like anything about the place you are now use examples of other spaces you’ve visited or seen that you do like.  List as many examples as you can!  Be expressive! It is fun to think about your dream home so don’t be afraid to explore what that looks like.

Document everyone’s requests.  There are differences of opinions in any household, and those should be recognized and celebrated.  Again there are many ways to create an outcome and your designer/architect will navigate those waters to find the best solution for everyone.  Acknowledge the differences right away.  Don’t try and solve your problems.  Just express your ideas.  Problem solving comes later!

Try and anticipate future needs or changes.  List details that would accommodate your lifestyle and family now, and possible things you may need in the future.  List those.

During the interview:

You will review your want and needs list, don’t be shy!!  Everything is important!!  Take the time to discuss your list with your potential designer or architect.  This is important to create a rapport and also to start to learn if that individual has your vision.

Be ready to ask about scheduling and time frame.  Every project is unique and every firm has a different work load.  You will want to discuss your expectations and see how they fit with the individual you are interviewing.

Discuss your budget.  Everyone has one, no matter what size your project is.  Be honest and accurate.  The only way your design professional can successfully assist you thru the process is for them to know what the realistic numbers are.    You should be sure to include professional fees, which will include Architectural, Interior design, Engineering, and General Contractors profit.  Also include furnishings and accessories.  If you are planning to purchase everything new and expect it when the house is ready you will need to plan for that.

Ask for references.  Talk to the professional about some of their other projects to establish the way they worked with their clients and what the outcomes were.  Ask if there are one or two clients you could call.  If you do make those calls, try and keep it brief, but inquire about their overall satisfaction level, if the person met the client’s expectations.  How they worked under pressure, was the professional on time with their deliverables and did they meet the clients budget.


If you are working on a building or commercial space rather than a residence, you will want to work with your team to establish your objectives:

What do you wish to achieve with your project?

List things that work about your current space and things that do not

Who will be using the building & Why?

How many people do you need space for?

How will the rooms be used?

Prioritize:  be sure that you indicate your priorities.

What is your Budget?  Is there a Performa that needs to be met?

What is your timeframe?

“The ultimate success of your project depends on the quality of your brief, your ability to clearly describe for your architect the requirements and functions of your building, and proposed methods of operation and management.”  RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)