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Seven practical tips for choosing your architect

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You’re embarking on building your dream house, you’ve gorged on episodes of Grand Designs and you’ve got a stack of interiors magazines so big you could use them to built the house itself. And yet when it comes to choosing your architect, you’re not quite sure what questions to ask.

It’s easy to get sidetracked with visions of curving staircases and luxury balconies, but when it comes to speaking with architects, it’s best to start with the nitty-gritty. Here are a few tips that might make things go a little more smoothly:

Our Top Tips:

  1. Make sure your architect is registered with the RIAI. This house is probably going to be your forever home, so make sure the person you hire to design it is suitably qualified and experienced. The last thing you need is someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing in charge of the biggest purchase you’ll probably ever make.
  2. What exactly do you want the architect to do? Architects fulfil different roles. Other than designing the property, do you want them to effectively manage the build? Are they going to obtain quotes for you? Are they going to sign off on everything when it’s all over? You need to speak about what services are best covered by the architect so they have a clearly defined role. 
  3. Money, money, money: having decided on the likely remit, how much are these services going up cost? How might those payments be staggered or spread over the duration of the build? Find out in advance before signing up. Some architects charge a percentage of the build’s costs, while others charge a flat fee. There former usually works out a lot more expensive – so be sure to check.
  4. Be practical: one piece of advice given by people in the trade is to take good advice when it’s offered. A bit of to-and-fro is likely and advisable until you work out a design you’re both happy with. Ultimately, it has to be practical and feature the architect’s vision: but it’s also your home, so there has to be input from both sides. 
  5. Get bang for your buck: any design should get down to as much detail as possible. Where exactly will the internal doors go? What about the plug sockets? And the light switches? Check the little details and think of your family’s needs now and in the future.
  6. Any examples? If you’re speaking with an architect it’s presumably because you like their work – ask to see a portfolio. And it’s probably a good idea to have examples of your own as to the kind of home you want.
  7. Budget: any dream design is going to stay firmly in the realms of fantasy unless you can afford it. It’s got to come in on budget, so ask the hard questions and demand straight answers.

 

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