Studio M featured in Arbus Magazine

Luxury interior design Jacksonville Fl

Studio M featured in Arbus Magazine

As a regular contributor to the Interior Design community, I’m excited to share my latest article “Four Ways to get the Most Out of Hiring an Architect”, that was featured in Arbus Magazine. Arbus is short for Art + Business and is a respected publication in the North Florida area.

Here is the article:

4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Hiring an Architect

So you’re building or remodeling a house? Or perhaps a restaurant, office or other commercial structure? These are exciting times. There is something that is so satisfying about creating a structure built to your vision and exact specifications. But these can also be stressful times. After all, the goal is to build a structure that could last for the next 50 or even 100 years!

No doubt you’ll find an overwhelming amount of information from  friends, colleagues and of course “the Internet.” Should I hire an Architect? How much will it cost, how do I find the right one?

The simple answer is, yes. Hiring an Architect and finding the right one is not as hard as it may seem. In the case of a commercial project, a licensed Architect isn’t just critical, it’s the law. 

#1 What to look for in an Architect? 

Before you can answer that question, the first step is to establish the scope of your project. You’ll want to create a checklist of all your wants and needs. You can find a great starting point here:

Having worked with dozens of Architects, I look for experience or knowledge with my project type, the availability to work within my timeframe and can they work within my budget. Pro tip: be honest about your budget. The Architect needs to know what you really want to spend as to avoid wasting time on approaches, materials, and processes that aren’t realistic.

“The chemistry between Architect and client is crucial. Find someone you have an easy rapport with from the outset; someone you can communicate clearly with; and who you feel is going to make your dream home come to life. You’re going to be in a long-term relationship with your Architect, and they are going to learn more about your personal habits than anyone else except your spouse,” says Architect Richard Manion.

Here are some key things you’ll want to ask during the interview process. Is the Architect as excited about your project as you are? Who will actually be designing your project, is it the Architect you are talking to or one of their associates? (which might be okay!) What services do they offer besides design and drawings? Can they recommend a General Contractor or other subcontractors? 

#2 How do I establish a budget? 

Architects bill in different ways and you can expect to see proposals that bill hourly, flat fee, per square foot or based on a percentage of the total construction cost. Pro tip: Be sure to include FFE (Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment) in your budgeting process. Ask if the proposal includes engineering fees. The Architect is there to protect your interests during construction and save you time and money from start to finish. 

#3 Manage your expectations (and the building process) 

Your engagement with the Architect could last a year or more, so select an Architect whose personality and working style matches your own. There are several phases to every project, beginning with schematic design and design development. This is the “blue sky” phase in which you and your Architect dream and design. It’s highly collaborative at this stage and you’ll want to allocate adequate time to meet face-to-face with your Architect. Bring all your ideas and examples. Your Architect will help you create a vision for the project along with 2D design sketches, outlines, and elevations. Pro tip: This is the time to bring a licensed Interior Design professional as part of your design team. Your Architect will soon be passing the design baton to the Interior Designer and it’s important to have everyone on the same page from the beginning.

“The dumbest mistake is viewing design as something you do at the end of the process to “tidy up” the mess, as opposed to understanding it’s a “day one” issue and part of everything.” Tom Peterson

Once the initial drawings are signed off, you enter the next phase. the Architect creates your construction documents and the General Contractor sets the production schedule, pulls permits, etc. In the final phase, called construction administration, the real fun begins.

#4 An Architect, Designer, and Contractor walk into a bar…

Yes, this happy trio continues to work together through the building process. Why may you ask? Because the Architect and Designer are your advocates and are there to make sure your project is executed according to the standards and vision you have set.  Pro tip: There are details and unforeseen issues that will occur during construction. And contractors want to do right by you, but if there is a judgment call to be made you want the design team to help make these decisions. I couldn’t build you a birdhouse much less a real house, but I’ve walked countless job sites and have noticed problems that when caught early, save the client thousands of dollars and costly delays. Your Architect is there to do the same.

In 2007 my husband and I built a custom home, so I know both personally and professionally the challenges of building and the rewards of having a great Architect on the team. Our Architect also happened to be my husband. The process of building our dream home revealed things we didn’t know about ourselves and brought our relationship to a new level. 

I hope that your dream comes to life and comes together exactly as you envision and I know having the right design team can make that happen.