II. Design

To hire or not to hire an architect?

1. Are there any cultural differences in the education and life experiences of individuals? For example, noise. Noise between rooms. Noise transmission from the exterior to the interior. Or consider stairs. There is a well known ratio that architects use in the US that make stairs comfortable and safe to use.

2. What are the credentials of the professionals you are considering? Were they trained as an architect? How many years of experience? References?

3. What type of local experience have they had? What is more important: quantity or quality. Can you see examples of their work? Is there variety in their work that reflects the different clients or are their designs what are considered “signature” design that reflects them.

4. If you do not speak Spanish, it will be better if they speak English but more importantly that they understand the nuances of the English language completely. If they grew up in the US you can be certain that they will understand the cultural differences. Open and complete communication between you and your architect is extremely important. If you have pictures of what you really enjoy that should be a help. Both you and your architect need to be willing to take the time necessary at this point to discuss all your needs, wants and desires.

5. Do you understand how you like to live? It is important to take the time to become aware of your routines and uses of the different spaces in your home if you are not. Your architect will be able to guide you through this process.

6. Do you have a style preference?

7. Will they inspect and project manage your project? This is truly very important. Your architect should be there to assure that the contractor and others follow the design that you worked on with your architect. There are multiple decisions every day through out the process from conception to completion.

8. Most importantly, will your home reflect the 5 core qualities that make a great home:

  • Context: A perfect response to the site
  • Scale: Correct proportions both inside and out
  • Livability: How well your home works and plays for you
  • Craft: Respect for the materials and workmanship
  • Distinctiveness: The personality of your home distinguishes it from others

Your architect will present you with sketches and or plans once the design process has been completed. These sketches and or plans will then be given to your Responsible Engineer who will do the engineering plans and obtain the permits.