8 Tips for Choosing
Planning a dream house requires an honest appraisal
of your needs. Avoid the blueprint blues by selecting the right
1. Create a wish list.
Before the first meeting with
a prospective architect, write down your basic thoughts
about your house?size, style, layout, special
features, how you plan to live in it. This becomes the
foundation upon which the architect will piece together your “program,” or
2. Check the portfolio.
At that initial meeting, look through the portfolio for a variety of styles.
Page after page of similar styles might mean an architect is interested in
designing for himself rather than you, the client.
3. Value chemistry.
Although paging through the portfolio is important, you also
want to get to know his personality. Notice how he dresses,
carries himself, and communicates. Is he excited about your
project? Do you like him?
“The client and I don’t have to have the same personality.
We don’t have to like the same music,” says architect
Ruard Veltman. “But we should be inspired by each other.”
4. Be open and honest.
The only way an architect can meet
your goals is to be privy to your world. That includes details
about your daily life, as
well as the truth about your budget and schedule. Once a project
is under way, be forthright with your architect. If you don’t
like a roofline sketch, tell him right away, so he can draw
5. Choose a listener.
Thoughtful answers to your questions and copious note-taking
are sure signs that the architect is paying attention.
6. Communicate your vision.
Pictures say more than words can,” says architect Stan
Dixon. Which is why it’s common?and effective?to present
an architect with a folder of magazine clippings. Dixon says
that it’s important to have quality magazines and books
from which to pull images.
You can also take him on a drive, pointing
out architecture you like and don’t like (“what you don’t like
can be just as revealing,” Dixon says). Walk through your
house, naming not only your favorite aspects but also problems
you hope to solve. It’s OK to present a sketch or computer-generated
drawing but only as a jumping-off point. Expecting your architect
to stick to your drawing is a mistake.
7. Take notes.
Ideally, your architect will keep a good written record of what's
communicated during meetings. He will copy the notes back to
you afterward to confirm your understanding of what was decided.
8. Strive for collaboration.
Some architects approach a residential project strictly as an
opportunity to design something,” says Jerry Morosco, architect
and author of How To Work With an Architect. “The more
mutually beneficial way is to conceive something together with
the client. That’s what a good architect does?helps create
a three-dimensional representation of what you had in mind all
along but couldn’t conceive by yourself.”