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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SELECTING AN ARCHITECT

Building a house is an important event in everyone's life. You may be unsure about how the design of your house should be, how to choose the right materials and how to use the available space wisely. A professional Architect can help answer those questions for you and can guide you through the design and construction process.
  • He will design your house with minimum wastage of space and with proper flow and utilization of spaces.
  • He can save your money by helping you select the materials which are suitable to your budget.
  • The Architect also helps you find a reputable Contractor and
  • He can coordinate with other Consultants so as to make the process of construction smooth and orderly, leaving you with not much to worry about.
So you can see that there are lots of benefits in hiring an Architect. However, to choose a good professional is not an easy task, especially if it is your first time.

CHOOSING AN ARCHITECT-
Choosing your Architect should be done with care. Your relationship will be a lengthy one involving big sums of money, and for most people possibly the biggest investment they will ever make. So it is important that you choose the right Architect, one you can trust. Here are some points to consider when choosing an Architect.

REFERENCES
As a starting point, you should consult your friends and acquaintances who have some experience in hiring Architects. They can give you some good advice about experienced and reputable Architects in your area. Try to make use of the services of an Architect who has most experience in Residential Architecture, as this is certainly a specialist field and an Architect in the Commercial field will not have the same finesse in the design of a house.

PROXIMITY TO YOUR SITE
As an experienced Architect myself, I highly recommend that you look for an Architect near your site, as it will definitely prompt him to visit your site more number of times. I personally rate Site Visits as more important than fancy detailed drawings, especially for house construction, since there are lots of decisions that can be made at site and any mistakes will be noticed earlier and can be corrected before it is too late.

QUALIFICATION:
  • Make sure that he is a qualified Architect- registered with the Council of Architecture, India. Ask for his Registration Number. There are lots of people listed as Architects, who are not qualified Architects - many are civil engineers or Interior designers or draftsmen or people who have not completed the Architecture Course successfully.
  • When you hire an Architect, you want more than someone who has done a drawing course and who can prepare drawings. You want someone to advise you on all technical aspects and compliance with regulations. You want to benefit from an Architect's training and experience in problem solving and lateral thinking which enables them to see a new solution to a problem. 
  • You also want to make sure that the project is designed correctly from the start and as per your needs with creativity. Finally you need someone to supervise the job during construction and verify the Contractors bills by someone qualified to do that as well as carrying professional liability for their work, and not someone providing you with just plans.

EXPERIENCE:
  • And then of course, look for an experienced Architect as there are lots of things, like- the comfortable sizes of rooms, right proportion, efficient placement of fixtures in toilets, good arrangement of furniture in a room – that only an Architect who has had experience in real life will know. These things cannot be taught through education but are learned from mistakes and actual experience.
  • Ask for their portfolio so that you can see photos of projects they've completed. A good selection of photos is a good indication of an Architect's experience.
  • The next stage is to see a building they've completed, so you can see the quality of the finish.(It may not be possible for the Architect to take you inside the projects as people will be living there and it is an inconvenience to them.)
DOES HE LISTEN?
Try to establish whether he is going to listen to your needs. The only way for an Architect to get a project right is to listen closely to the Client's needs. If possible try and find someone who listens to your ideas and requirements with care and whom you can trust and feel comfortable with.

PERSONALITY

The whole process of Building is stressful. Assess whether you will be able to work with the Architect on a personal level over a period of several months. It's a good idea to talk to more than one Architect before making up your mind. To have the best result, you should meet and interview at least 3 professionals If possible, you should also take references from some of their former Clients so that you can know more about them. The more information you have about the Architects, the better your choice will be.

NEGOTIATING FEES:
  • When you have selected an Architect, you should negotiate with him in advance about the fees charged. You can consult your friends or other experienced people about the fees charged on similar projects so that you will be more confident when negotiating.
  • You can request to fix a lump sum fees so that you do not have to worry about the fees increasing in case there is some variation in the total project cost, by the end of the construction. 
  • After all agreements have been made, you must keep the Contract and any relevant documents, safely for future references.
  • After you have hired an Architect, you should keep good communication with him. You have to make sure that he understands what you want and expect about the house. If there is something you don't understand during the process, ask him for a thorough explanation. Everything has to be thoroughly understood between you and your Architect because you have to work together for a long time.
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