How to Find an Architect: Your Guide to Choosing the Best

Bringing your dream house to life can be an exciting endeavour but, nonetheless, one that requires careful planning and thorough execution.

No matter what you envision as the end result, you'll need a trusted professional to guide you at every step.

This is why it's of the utmost importance to find the right architect for the job, one who not only understands all your plans and requirements but also fits in well with your budget.

So how do you find a reliable architect that meets your needs? Well we've got just the guide to help you out.

In this post, we'll shed some light on all the important details you need to know about working with an architect, along with helpful tips to help you narrow down your search.

But first, let's take a look at some of the undeniable perks that come with working with an architect.

An architect working on project designs.

Why Work with an Architect?

Architects are well-equipped with years of experience, tools and technical know-hows to successfully build projects from the ground up.

From creating complex architectural designs to negotiating permits and even finding the right labour — architects do it all, and effortlessly so.

Take a look at some of the many benefits you can expect from an expert architect.

  • Taking your ideas into account, the architect will develop plans and designs that align with your vision for the project. Every detail will be carefully charted out without having to worry about a thing. After all, a professional can typically help you figure out designs, plans and sources much quicker than you could do yourself.
  • Having an architect can make it easier for you to stick to your budget as they will be able to find the best resources that fit your needs. They can also offer unique ideas that you might otherwise miss out on.
  • They will be able to understand your concepts and streamline their services and plans to give you what you need. This can either be a full-blown service where they take care of everything for you, or a more limited approach.
  • They can help you design your home in a way that ensures efficiency, sustainability and a reduced operating costs. Since they are highly skilled and educated, you can expect great results and compatibility, making it a worthy investment.
  • They can help you through all the legal documents, contracts and permits so that you can have a reliable, hassle-free, comfortable and peaceful experience.

What You Should Know Before You Start

Before you start looking for an architect, there are a few things you should consider. These factors will help you figure out what you can expect as well as what you can do to prepare for the process.

  • It is necessary to ascertain that your architect is fully registered and trained with all legalities and formalities in place. They must also follow the relevant codes of conduct.
  • By preparing a brief, you can clearly convey all the details of your project that include your budget, time period, design plans, requirements and more.
  • Make sure you encourage clear and open communication with your architect at all stages of the process so that you can maintain a healthy working relationship and can sort out any problems, should they arise. You should follow up with them at all stages while also taking their suggestions into account (and vice versa).
  • There must be a written contract (or terms and conditions) between you and your architect that lays out all the important details and terms of your project.
  • You don’t need to use an architect to carry out the entire project for you — you can also simply ask them to perform a few limited tasks if you don’t require them to oversee every detail. This could save you tens of thousands of dollars in the process.
  • There are copyright acts in place that will protect the work and designs of the architect. It is important for you to have a basic idea about this before you embark on your project.

How to Find an Architect in 9 Steps

Now that you're well-acquainted with the basics, it's time to learn how to find an architect to design your home, just the way you dreamed.

1. Use Online Resources

There are a number of official online resources that you can use to find the best architects in Australia.

For instance, you can search the Australian Institute of Architects' directory of architects — filtered according to your state or certain project requirements.

The Association of Consulting Architects also feature spotlights on members, allowing you to read more about certain architects and firms.

Additionally, try browsing online and print magazines, such as Lunchbox Architect, to get inspired and read detailed design explanations.

2. Ask for Recommendations

There's a high possibility that you'll encounter talented architects through good ol' word of mouth. Start by asking your friends, family or even close colleagues for references of architects that they may have worked with.

Using this method will also save you the time and resources spent on confirming their authenticity.

Keep in mind that these recommendations may not always end up working out for you due to a lack of compatibility or differences in terms of the kind of project.

Yet, it can be a good place to find out more, explore your options and perhaps even get some professional recommendations.

3. Check Ratings and Qualifications

It goes without saying that research and background checks are crucial when shortlisting architects.

With potential candidates, you should look through their ratings and read their case studies to see if they meet the best possible standards in the industry. This will ensure that you come into contact with the best architects for yourself and your new home.

Further, you should go through their qualifications to confirm that they have all the relevant professional training and experience required to do their job. You can contact official registration boards in case you have any doubts about the same.

4. Determine Compatibility

There's a lot more to choosing an architect than simply evaluating their skill-set and accomplishments. Listen to your instincts and whether you get a good vibe from any potential architects you're speaking with. You want to develop a healthy client-architect relationship that withstands the duration of the project.

It's important to find an architect that values open communication.

As early as possible, meet the architect directly and see how they respond to your brief and budget.

Needless to say, your architect should available in the time period that you propose, and stay true to the expectations that they've set.

Remember to keep the channels of communication open at every stage of the process and establish a foundation of mutual respect and honesty. Both you and the architect should be open to new ideas, improvements and suggestions in case there are unforeseen changes.

5. Make a Brief

Perhaps one of the most important steps in communicating your ideas starts with making a detailed brief that includes:

  • Your expectations of the project
  • The overall plan
  • The aesthetic and design that you are aiming for
  • Your budget and limitations
  • The time period you need the project to be completed in
  • The involvement level of your architect

A well thought-out brief will establish an honest and open relationship between you and the architect. A major part of this also includes leaving ample room for flexibility and changes so that you can develop a more concrete plan after hearing suggestions from the architect.

6. Go Through Their Website

Given the digital age that we live in, most architects will have their own website. If this is the case, take your time to go through all the projects that they have completed.

This will give you a good idea about the style and designs that the architect is familiar with. If you end up liking their work and attention to detail, you can then decide to take things further.

7. Ask for References

Often overlooked by many, asking for references is a sure-safe way to get genuine feedback about the architect that you plan to work with.

Ask the architects to provide you with references of some of their previous clients. This could either be in the form of testimonials from them or through detailed reference letters and project descriptions.

By taking this extra measure, you can easily gauge:

  • The architect's communication skills
  • How well they listen and take into account the views of their clients
  • How well they work within a deadline and budget
  • How happy the client is with their work and whether or not they recommend them to you

8. Confirm Rates

Understanding an architect's fee structure might seem a little complex but they'll be more than happy to break it down for you. Depending on the type of project and the involvement of the architect in question, these fees are likely to vary.

The best thing to do is provide the architect with an approximate budget plan of the project and also confirm their own rates to see if they fit in well with your budget.

Once you have a rough idea of how much you'll be spending, ensure that you know exactly what you can expect from the architect at their rate. This also includes deciding on when and how you will make the agreed payment to the architect.

9. Discuss Plans and Problems

Once you have established all the aforementioned steps, you can finally move on to discussing the project plan in more detail, such as:

  • The various stages involved
  • The necessary documentation required
  • The builders and contractors that will be needed
  • A rough design from the architect

This is a great time for you to figure out what kind of involvement the architect will have and how often you will meet to track the progress. Getting into the need-specific designs and expectations will only help in the long run.

Remember to lay out all the potential issues that could arise at any point and how they can be dealt with.

Architopia has affordable house plans for every project.

How to Choose the Right Architect for Your Project

Finding the best architect for the job boils down to a lot of things like the kind of project in question, the architect's fees, your budget and the compatibility shared.

This means establishing a strong connection with the architect, understanding their previous work and trusting their expertise.

Once you have determined and established all of these factors, you can sign your agreement and get started on the project.

What to Do When You Can’t Afford an Architect

Now that you know how to choose an architect in Australia, it's time for you to set off and find one that effectively meets both your needs and budget — if you can afford one.

However, many Australians find it difficult to justify the additional expense of an architect to the already costly process of buying land and building a home.

While we'd love for everyone to have the budget for their architectural dream house, we understand that's simply not on the cards for many of you  and that's we're we come in. Our house plans are architecturally-designed, sustainable and affordable, so check them out today or contact us for more information.