8 Tips for Working with an Architect on a Custom Home

You’ve decided to move ahead and reach out to an architect to design your custom home. It’s an exciting time to be sure, and your architect is most likely the first professional you’ll work with on your custom home build.

But what does a productive and successful client-architect partnership look like? What you bring to the table is as important as your architect’s skills and expertise. In this blog, we’re breaking down the most important aspects of a successful working relationship. Discover what you can do as a client to create a home you love, avoid project delays, and save money. And most importantly, enjoy the process!

Table of Contents

1. Trust Your Team

It all starts with trust. When you trust your architect, you set your project up for success from day one. Without trust, the design process will take longer and cost more to create the home you want.

That’s why it’s so important to fully vet your chosen architect. They should be professionally trained and able to design all architectural styles, especially the one you prefer. Be sure you are confident they will be your advocate for your best interests. You will work with your architect for a long time, six to nine months on average for design and 18 months or longer including the construction phase. Personality is important. Your architect’s disposition and temperament should mesh well with yours.

Contemporary Farmhouse Custom Home

2. Be Honest

Do you have a chef’s amount of kitchen gadgets? Do you crave a closet the size of a studio apartment for your shoe collection? Your architect’s inquiring mind wants to know!

Answering these types of lifestyle questions openly and honestly may make you feel vulnerable, which is why trusting your architect is so important. You’ve hired them to create a home in sync with your lifestyle, rhythms, and habits. Honesty about your likes, dislikes, and aspirations will help them do that.

3. Know Your “Why”

Clients often reach out to an architect after years of contemplating a custom home, fueled by a need to create a space that reflects their lifestyle and preferences. How do you want to live in your new home? What was the thing or event that made you decide now is the right time? This information is gold to an architect and can guide your home’s architectural program, design priorities, and budget.

Historic Tudor Cottage Remodel

4. Communicate Consistently

Involvement and participation are essential. Your input helps them create a home that aligns with your vision. Regular feedback when an architect requests it can avoid costly redesigns and expensive change orders further along in the project. Being responsive and keeping the lines of communication open maintains project momentum and prevents delays.

5. Ask Questions

Your new home is a major investment of your time and money, so all your questions are important — ask them! Your architect welcomes questions because your involvement will make it easier for them to design a home you’ll love. You’ll feel more confident and comfortable when discussing project timelines and making the many decisions required when building a custom home.

Asking questions early in the design process can also save your project time and money. The earlier design phases (before construction drawings are started) are the best time to make adjustments and design changes.

Buell Mansion Contemporary Custom Home

6. Be Realistic About Budget and Costs

Budget conversations are tough but essential to a successful project. Your acknowledgment of custom home costs around design, material, and labor needs to happen early so you know what your budget can reasonably accomplish. During money discussions, your architect can help you clarify your “why” and what’s most important to you so it is reflected in your home’s design.

For this reason, we strongly recommend hiring your builder early in the architectural design stage. Ask them to sync with your architect and provide some hard costs for the big items (foundation, framing, finish quality) during design development. This acts as a temperature check to be sure your home’s design aligns with your budget to avoid costly redesigns after construction drawings are completed.

7. Have an Open Mind

Your architect brings substantial value to your project. You’re hiring them for their specialized skill set which includes building science and professional design. Give them the creative space to translate your vision.

While an architect won’t ask you to step too far outside your comfort zone, they will encourage you to entertain new ideas to enhance your vision. When an architect says, “What about this?” try to have an open mind. Their ideas might become some of your favorite features of your new home!

It’s worth mentioning that having an open mind extends to your architect too. The architectural design process is a collaboration. If your architect isn’t receptive to your ideas, it may be time to find another architect.

Bow Mar Ranch Remodel

8. Trust the Process

New home design and construction require many different decisions and interdependencies. Challenges and unwelcome surprises happen. When they do, rely on the partnership you’ve created with your architect. This is another area where trust and honesty come into play. Know your architect has your interests in mind as they present the best possible recommendations that balance your priorities, preferences, and budget.

Become a Star Client

The best client-architect relationship is a partnership built on trust, honesty, and communication. When these three things are in good supply, great design follows, unnecessary delays are avoided, and projects tend to stay on budget.

Are you ready to start creating your custom home? Contact us for a complimentary consultation and to learn more about the architectural design process.

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