21 May How to Find the Best Architecture Firms
Renovating or building a home is a major project involving big goals that align with the homeowner’s vision. It is important to seek out a trusted architect who understands the client’s aspirations – but that is a process in its own right. Here is a guide on how to find the top architecture firms in your area, to better match you with the right professional for your home renovation or new build.
Consult Friends, Family, Neighbors and the AIA
Learn about the top architecture firms in your area from the people you know who have already used them. If your neighbor’s recently renovated kitchen or your brother-in-law’s new pool house has caught your eye, get the names of the architects. At the very least, do a thorough Internet search, read through the reviews, and cross-reference with the list of architecture firms that belong to the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Get Quotes from Multiple Architecture Firms and Develop Your Budget Early
Once you have the names of a few top architecture firms that you are interested in potentially hiring, request quotes. Each firm will likely bundle different services within their quotes, so you can decide which will give you the best return on your investment and match the needs of your project.
Furthermore, avoid delays and confusion later by developing your budget early and being clear with the architects you’re interviewing about where you draw the line, money-wise, and how you expect the project to be paid out. Doing so can help determine which architecture firms see eye to eye with you when it comes to the bottom line.
Talk to Previous Clients and View Other Projects
Ask the architecture firms that you are most interested in hiring to provide a list of previous clients with whom you can speak. Gather insight into the working relationship the firms had with other clients and how it applies to your vision of working with an architect.
If feasible, arrange to visit other projects completed by the architecture firms to see if their aesthetic sensibilities match your own.
If you are considering a kitchen renovation, for example, find out if you can tour a prior kitchen renovation, or request to see photos. The kitchen pictured above was part of a renovation in the Shippan neighborhood of Stamford, Connecticut. Cardello Architects renovated a fairly traditional Cape-style home in a modernist way, complete with a myriad of finishes that reflected the simple, modern feel of the project.
Take a Tour of the Office
Visit the offices of the top architecture firms that you are interested in hiring. Not only will you be able to meet the architects and their teams in person prior to working out a contract, but you can get a sense of the firms’ creative capabilities and expertise as represented in their own spaces. Look for details that exemplify each firm’s personality and design preferences to decide if they match your own.
Interview the Whole Team
Home builds and renovation projects can take a long time to complete, and may require a team of people to get the job done. Get to know the teams at the top architecture firms that you are interested in hiring. While you will likely deal primarily with the lead architect on a day-to-day basis, it is important to ensure that you mesh with the number of people who will be working to make your dream home a reality.
Understand Top Architecture Firms’ Scope and Scale
When deciding which company to hire from a pool of the top architecture firms in your area, think about how your project fits in with their scope and scale. For example, you would not want to hire a large firm to execute a small home renovation, as they may not be able to give you the attention you need. Conversely, you do not want to overwhelm a very small firm with a large undertaking.
This classic Colonial renovation in Westport, Connecticut, involved designing a new kitchen, family room, den, and mud room, as well as improving the master suite closets. The client wanted an architect who would respect the existing detail found in both the interior and exterior of the house, and Cardello Architects replicated these characteristics in the additions.
It can be difficult to decide between a young, ambitious firm and an established one with years of experience, but it comes down to which architect you feel most comfortable with entrusting your vision of your dream home. Understanding how your project fits in with each firm’s ambitions and constraints only helps to zero in on the right team for your job.
Establish a Rapport
The top architecture firms in your area may have many accolades and years of experience to tout, but the most important considerations for any homeowner taking on a renovation or a new home build is establishing a rapport with the team, and keeping open lines of communication. Architecture can be messy; it’s very detailed, and project timelines are long and can easily become convoluted with permit issues, delayed materials, and other unforeseen circumstances. The top architect for your project is one who not only understands your vision, but also keeps you updated on the timeline, works hard to deliver results within the budget, and is open and clear with you whenever hurdles arise.
For example, the Rowayton home featured above is the result of a waterfront renovation that required upgrades to stabilize the home, as it is exposed to Long Island Sound. Just after the project was completed, Hurricane Irene battered the area, but the house stood strong – a testament to the concrete plan developed by Cardello Architects.
Once you have chosen the best architecture firm to handle your project, learn about what you can expect when working with a residential architect. Or, if you are handling a project on a larger scale, find out what you can expect when working with a commercial architect.
Cardello Architects is a full-service architecture firm that combines extensive experience, a strong creative spirit and comprehensive knowledge with an efficient process to provide all of our clients with the perfect architectural design to meet your needs and suit your tastes. Services range from consultation and design development to bidding and construction administration.
If you’d like to learn more about Cardello Architects, contact us to discuss your dream home today.