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Alex Graham asked:

Feb 17, 2014
How should we go about finding an architect to design our new home?
We have a lot, and are trying to figure out how to get started.
Aug 19, 2014

Some states do not require registered design professionals to handle new single-family construction and renovation.  If your project is relatively straight-forward or does not require extensive creative design, you could consider a residential designer - AIBD would be one way to locate those design professionals, though many excellent residential designers are not affiliated with a national trade association.

One you've determined that an architect is the right fit, begin with AIA.  Many of the state American Institute of Architects affiliates list their members by areas of expertise and experience.

Possible questions for designer candidate interviews:

  1. Show us examples of recently-completed projects similar to ours and send us contact info for owners and builders.
  2. Do you emphasize function or form in your work?
  3. Walk us through the design process from concept to project completion for a project like ours, pointing out milestones along the way and including estimated time required from concept to a design that's ready for construction.
  4. Tell us how you prefer to be compensated for your work.
  5. How do you participate in the process of selecting a builder for the project?
  6. Do your normal service offerings include Construction Administration (CA)?
  7. Do you carry professional liability insurance?
  8. When your opinion about a particular design feature difrers from the opinion of your client, how do you resolve the conflict?

Good luck with your project!

Apr 1, 2014

Great question!

There are a couple of different ways that you can find a reliable architect, designer, or design-build firm to design your new home. 

The best way to find someone that you trust is usually word-of-mouth. Talk to people that you know who have built their own home, and see what type of process they used. Ask them what they liked best and least about the process, and learn from their mistakes. If they loved their architect, design-build firm, or contractor, that's a great place to start. 

Other ways to find local design solutions for your new home would include seeking out local trade associations like the AIA chapter (if you're choosing to complete this using the design-bid-build method) for your local area, or the local NARI (for other solutions like design-build, designers, or contractors) chapter for your area. 

Additionally, websites like GuildQuality can point you towards local resources, as well as other social media-oriented sites like Houzz which feature projects from local professionals. Angie's List can be hit or miss, as can Yelp, although they might give you a few ideas. 

Keep in mind design-build firms as an alternative to hiring just an architect!

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