The working relationship between a homeowner and their architectural designer needs strong foundations, and the best way to establish that is to ask questions. But some questions either aren’t as easy to answer, or could be more productive! We’ve curated this list of questions you should, and a few you shouldn’t, ask your architectural designer before you agree to go ahead with a new project.
You Should Ask: How will you approach the project?
It’s important to be on the same page, and you want to know that your architectural designer understands your priorities, whether they’re related to cost, lifestyle choices (eco-friendly options for example, or spaces built for the whole family) or unforeseen challenges. Knowing what your architectural designer views as an important issue or consideration prior to the work, and what their strategies are for making those decisions is vital. Equally, how they gather information about your needs and goals needs to suit you:
- Would you rather meet in person?
- Would the paper trail of an email chain work better?
- Who will you be speaking to when you have a query?
- Who is designing your project, and how accessible are they?
- How busy are they? And where do you fall in their list of priorities?
If your designer cannot, at the very least, offer complete transparency to you as a client, then the project is going to be expensive and take a while to get off the ground.
You Should Ask: How do they establish costs and fees?
I know it’s tempting to email an enquiry with ‘how much does it cost’ – but there are several different factors taken into consideration when establishing how much a project is going to cost, and it’s important as the client to know how those fees and costs are going to be worked out. For example, some designers charge for the initial meeting, whereas others use that time to establish the budget and priorities, so as to make sure there’s good synergy between what the architectural designer can provide, and the amount the client wants to spend – but then will charge for subsequent meetings, drawings and more detailed advice.
An architectural designer will be able to give examples of previous work and the costs, which can help you establish just how much work went into the project and how much they charged for the work involved, but you should also ask:
- Do the fees include planning permission and building regulations approval?
- Do their fees include project management, or will you need to do this yourself?
- How involved will your architectural designer be during the construction process?
- Could they provide a variety of resource options so that you can find the most cost-effective option together?
You Should Ask: What does the architectural designer expect you to provide?
For some builds, a general idea of priorities might be enough – but something you should ask before you go ahead on a project is the expectations the designer has for what you provide. At the very least, you’ll need to negotiate a timeline for when the work will be completed, but your designer might need more information from you about:
- Building Status: is it listed, for example?
- Purpose: Domestic, Educational or Commercial
- Aesthetic Preferences
Again, the priority should be transparency. If you’re not sure whether you’re able to provide this information it could slow down the build process and end up costing more money.
You Should Ask: Can I See Your Reviews or References?
If you need evidence that you’re going to be well taken care of by your designer, finding out from their previous clients is a great way to learn the truth.
Online reviews by Google can help you see what clients have said about the experiences they had whilst working on projects similar to yours. However, an architectural designer should also have a portfolio of work they’re happy to share which will help you understand the style, approach and quality of work you can expect when working with them. If you’d like to know more about Blackrock Architecture Ltd.’s portfolio, or you’d like to speak to us about a project, contact us here.