How to Work With an Architect When Designing Your Home


By Ronique Gibson

You have decided to start designing your own home, or you would like to make some renovations on your current home. One of the first things you need to decide is what you want done and how can hiring an architect help your dreams become reality. While you may think hiring an architect isn’t necessary, there are several factors to consider: from local building codes, green design issues, to ensuring your dreams are realistic and within your budget. Here are some essential tips to help you when working with an architect to design your home. Use them as a guide to ensure you know what to expect when working with a design professional such as an architect.

Have your own ideas before meeting with an architect

Similarly to visiting a hairdresser for the first time or having a tailor design you a custom suit, having your ideas in one place before meeting with an architect will help all parties involved with clear communication. While architects can help you formalize your ideas into reality they need direction from you as to what you envision. In this modern day age the internet, smart phones and tablets, and a multitude of design applications out there available for homeowners – collecting images, floor plans, materials and even inspiration from nature, fashion, buildings and everyday lifestyle pictures will help your architect when meeting with you.

Interviewing an architect to match your style

The process of working with an architect will be made better if you hire a design professional with a similar design philosophy as yourself. Ensure that the firm your hire as sufficient expertise in the size and scope of the home design project you are interviewing them for. Ask for references as well as an portfolio to see recent and past projects. Consider hiring an architect that has marries well with you and your family that will live in the home.

Consider your budget in advance

Home design is not a finite science. While architects would like to be able to predict how much the design of your home will be just by talking to you once, the reality is every homeowner and their ambitions are different. Before meeting with an architect have a rough estimate of a budget in mind. Vocalize your budget when interviewing architects before you start your home design. This will help your architect explain what design effort will be “in scope” and what other items may need to be put on hold for the future or carried out on a smaller scale, different materials, etc…

Entrust that your architect has the best design intentions

Architects have to wear many “hats” and perform many roles when helping you design your home. While you may only be concerned with the aesthetics and how your space will look, an architect has to coordinate many disciplines. From the structural integrity of your home to the comfortability of heating and cooling to electrical and civil engineering – property concerns, architects help pull all these disciplines together while designing. In order to do this, homeowners should have a “give and take” attitude when designing with an architect, and not be rigid in their approach. Work with your architect with an open mind to come to a design approach that will work for everyone. Architects love to hear your ideas, but they also know what will provide a comfortable and safe home for your family at the end of the day.

Ask architects to explain what you don’t understand

Architecture can be very complicated or it can be extremely simplistic in nature, depending on how it is explained. The same is true for you when working with your architect. While your home is being designed in the schematic or beginning stages, don’t’ be afraid to ask questions that are second and third level if necessary. An architect wants to ensure that your home becomes second nature to you. Therefore don’t be afraid to ask questions and even challenge your architect to another design theory if you feel fit.

When working with an architect, remember “one size doesn’t fit all”.  Communication early on in the discussions will help your home design project materialize as you had envisioned. Ask about a timetable, budgetary expectations, and “unforeseen circumstances” early in the process. You will appreciate an architect who will take your ideas, concerns, and home lifestyle and meld them into a home that is designed and customized especially for you and your family. Working with an architect can be a rewarding experience when following a few of these helpful tips.

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For a list of designers, architects and builders in the Kamloops area that we have worked with, please call Mike Ternier at 250.371.7789.