Why hire an architect?
Architects are trained in the art and science of designing spaces to meet human requirements. They understand the relationship of space to human needs and can create harmony between interior and exterior and between new and existing spaces.
How can an architect help me achieve my goals?
After a thorough exchange of ideas, the architect can accurately translate your individual requirements into the form of a house plan. Because architects are sensitive to land conservation issues and are familiar with applicable building codes and zoning regulations, they can place the structure in the most advantageous position on your site.
Architects also can furnish a complete set of drawings and specify the materials going into the structure in such detail as to allow several contractors to submit competitive bids on the project.
As your agent during the construction phase of the project, the architect can help you evaluate the bids received and assist you in selecting a contractor.
Architects are actively involved in construction and can help protect your interests during the construction phase by documenting that your home is being built in accordance with approved plans and specifications.
How do you begin the process of selecting an architect?
Selecting an architect is not unlike selecting a doctor, dentist or attorney. Friends and business acquaintances can be a key source of information. A reliable way to select an architect is to seek recommendations from people whose judgment you respect.
As you ask for recommendations, one or several architects may emerge as strong candidates for your project. Make appointments to interview the leading contenders. Visit their offices; you will pick up valuable information on each architect’s approach to design. You can view slides and photos of their work. You may also wish to visit some of their projects. At the project sites, talk to the owners, particularly if they were the architect’s clients. Also, contact the references each architect has provided.
When you are viewing slides and photos or visiting projects, remember that your requirements are yours alone. Your needs and desires are different; and the resulting design solution will be as well.
After I’ve talked with several architects, how do I make the final selection?
Of course, you must like the architect’s work. The architect also should show genuine enthusiasm for your project. An equally important consideration is simply how well you and the architect get along. Do you communicate freely with each other?
The importance of good “chemistry” between architect and client cannot be over-emphasized. Competence, interest and chemistry are major considerations in making the final selection.
Once you have made your selection, you and your architect should discuss your requirements and expectations thoroughly. Make sure you approach budget and time requirements realistically. The architect should tell you more about their firm and their methodology.
You and the architect should agree on the professional services they will perform as well as the responsibilities you will undertake. The more information you exchange at this point, the smoother the project will run and the closer the result will come to meeting your requirements and expectations.
A contract between you and your architect will finalize the selection process. The use of a written contract is advised; oral agreements and understandings can suffer from faded memories.
By using this approach, you will be on the way to a successful project; one that will give you great satisfaction for years to come.
The accompanying directory contains a listing of Charleston, South Carolina member-owned firms that have indicated an interest in residential projects. Following the directory of architects, information is provided on the steps involved in a typical project plus questions that you should ask yourself and your architect to help you get started.
Verify with a quick search if your architect is licensed by the South Carolina Department of Labor.