7 Questions To Ask An Architect Before You Engage Them

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7 Questions To Ask An Architect Before You Engage Them

Architects Questions Engaging the right architect or building designer for your renovation can be a hit and miss exercise.

With so much at stake, it's crucial you do your due diligence.

Referrals and past projects are important but here are 7 questions you should ask your Melbourne architect/designer before you engage them.


Question 1 – Do they undertake projects with the budget that you wish to spend?

Look for an architect who wants to work within your budget (many Melbourne architects have a minimum budget they work to) Ask what their minimum budget is right at the very beginning to avoid wasting time with someone who doesn’t want your project. As a start, estimate your budget with this free online renovation cost calculator

Question 2 How Do They Keep To Your Specified Budget?

Traditionally, architects develop a design to the clients’ requirements and then take it to market (builders) to determine the likely building cost. Often, this results in some cost surprises for the client – after they’ve spent tens of thousands with the architect.

Instead, always ask your architect/designer if they can provide an accurate cost estimate (verified by a builder) within the first one or two meetings. This will ensure your home renovation design’s on track and that you won’t waste tens of thousands on an architectural design that’s beyond your budget.

Question 3 - What are they looking to achieve with your renovation design?

First and foremost, your home renovation design needs to deliver a beautiful, stylish and functional transformation of your home – FOR YOU.  It’s your home.

You want professional and inspired architectural advice but you want to ensure the design delivers your lifestyle requirements and preferences.  Be careful your original requirements/vision don’t become lost during the design process due to the architect’s design inspiration. After all, it’s your home.

Questions 4 – How Do They Engage With Clients?

Can you access an online renovation portal to discuss/approve design documentation, plans, costs and discussions real-time from your desktop or smartphone? Does it facilitate your input automatically or, do you need to call a meeting, make a phone call or send more emails to stay in control of your project?

Purpose built client renovation portals/apps are now standard as a means of professionally delivering clients’ renovations. You’ll save time and avoid costly mistakes by ensuring your renovation service uses one.

Questions 5 – How Do They Approach ResCode requirements?

Some Melbourne architects (and clients) approach the town planning process with a view to challenging State ResCode requirements in an effort to optimise the use and style of the home.

Others, appreciate that this has time and cost implications throughout the planning process and choose to play ‘within planning rules’.

Be clear on where you – and the architect – sit on this spectrum. Having that conversation at the very beginning will save you time and money.

Question 6 - Do They Offer A Bundled Renovation Service?

That is, can they design and manage your renovation? Or, do they provide you with the final designs then refer you to builders?

An integrated service will reduce the time and effort you put into your renovations, reducing risks of disputes, time delays and cost blowouts. You’ll have one entity responsible for your renovation.

Question 7 – How Well Do You Relate To One Another

A design and build project can last over months or years.  With that in mind, ask yourself:

  • How well do you relate to them?
  • Do their thinking processes and logic make sense to you?
  • How would they handle a difference of opinion?
  • Would you feel comfortable asserting your requirements with them if you needed to?
With these checkpoints in mind, you're well on the way to a successful renovation design.
Author, Richard Armstrong is a Director of The Makeover GroupTo find out more, contact us