If you are at the stage of your project planning where you have realized it is time to get help from a design professional, how do you kick off that process? First and foremost, please consider the three legs of a good project, as every architect will want to know these things coming in. If you don’t have everything figured out, that is perfectly normal, as the design professional should be available to help fill in the blanks.
Beyond the basics of the three legs of a good project, there is a long list of things an architect would like to know about their client and project before diving in. I will break them up into three simple categories, Accomplishments, Aspirations, and Aesthetics.
When referring to accomplishments in this article, I am specifically referring to past home renovation project experience. Most architects will want to know if you have a history of using architects, or similar design professionals, and how that experience went. Similarly, if you have had experience with home renovations going straight to an expert (pool builder, chimney contractor, etc.), or a general contractor without the help of a design professional, an architect would like to know how that project went in order to make sure any lessons learned are carried over. This is also helpful in case there is a network you have built up over that time that you would like to incorporate into your next project. Most architects will want to hear both negative and positive feedback from past accomplished projects to understand where your expectations land for future projects. It is our job as design professionals to make sure we set expectations, and meet them. We will always need your help, as the client, to set them at the right level.
When discussing a project, the scope is important, but typically it is described physically to help define the space. When hoping to achieve intangible goals, making a room feel more inviting, or cozy, for example, these aspirations need to be communicated with the architect. Similarly, if the goal for the project is to make the space produce the greatest return on investment, this will provide additional information for the architect, that a scope description of spaces to be designed could not. If you, as a client, have certain expectations of your architect that may be out of their normal scope of work, please bring that to their attention. We cannot deliver what we do not know is expected of us. For example, if you expect your architect to produce a master plan for your home renovations, meaning a phased plan with a set of guidelines to help inform future projects, and design decisions, this would be out of the normal scope of work for an architect, but not out of their ability. Another example may be that you would like your architect to bring you to some of their previous projects they have completed with similar scope to your own. This is not typical of an architect’s services, but again well within their ability. Aspirations, when it comes to your project, and your experience with an architect is a huge opportunity to ensure that nobody on either side of the relationship has an assumption that is not voiced. Assumptions in the architectural field are dangerous, and it is our goal, as architects to answer as many questions as we can to keep everyone informed, and the entire project team going in the same direction.
As a client, your personal aesthetic, and an architect’s ability to integrate it into a project, is critical to the success of a project. My personal favorite way to compile samples of what defines my aesthetic is to use Houzz, and the ideabooks function built into the website. I will discuss further the best way to use Houzz as a communication tool between yourself, and your architect in a future article. Unless you approach an architect asking them to produce their masterpiece, and that you will then live in it, most projects have to maintain an existing architectural integrity of a home, or begin to create a new aesthetic. In order to do that, these ideas must be conveyed, and understood by both parties. Pictures being worth a thousand words is an egregiously overused phrase, but it is because there is so much truth to it. As an example, if you solicit the services of an architect, and want to remodel a bathroom, having a handful of pictures of projects you like, and reasons for liking their features, at your first meeting with your architect puts you several steps ahead in the process allowing for the entire project to hit the ground running. An architect is formally trained to develop their own aesthetic with its own identity and preferences. The sign of professional is the ability to understand a client’s aesthetic, and how to properly apply it to their project.
Sticky Note Conclusion
Accomplishments, Aspirations, and Aesthetics are key items to consider when beginning a conversation with your architect. As archtiects, we are happy to express our thoughts and ideas, but in order to truly make home your own, we need to know about your experiences, what you hope this experience will be, and what your personal style is. The more information the better.
If you have any questions about the things an architect needs to know, or you have compiled these and are ready to discuss your next project, please reach out, and tell us what you have in mind.