Hire an Architect

Why Hire An Architect?

Few people realize how complicated it is to build - that is until they find themselves lost in numerous design options, building codes, zoning laws, contractors, and so on. No two building projects are exactly alike and there is no clear-cut path to follow. General building designs may prove helpful to start the process of designing but they often disregard the conditions of your specific building site and may not fully reflect your personal preferences and needs for the project.

An architect looks out for your interests and finds ways to navigate the complexities of the design process. The San Francisco Planning Department design review is a comprehensive evaluation process assessing a proposed project to ensure that it meets the City's existing policies and general principles of good design and neighborhood compatibility. An architect will ensure your project meets all of the requirements, help you find a suitable contractor, and visit the construction site to help verify that the project is being built according to the plans and specifications.

Architect services are a wise investment for the money, not an added cost to your project because a well-conceived and designed project can be built more efficiently and economically.


Why Hire an Architect?

Architect’s Professional Education

On the national level, to achieve licensure most architects today will have completed a four-year pre-professional degree in Architecture at a school recognized by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Followed by a three-year professional practice internship of diversified practical training serving as an employee of, and under the direct supervisory control of, a practicing licensed architect.

Many architects are AIA members. As an AIA architect they exhibit their leadership and advocacy by remain current with professional standards through continuing education and subscribe to a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct that assure clients, the public, and colleagues of their dedication to high standards in professional practice.


How Do You Find the Right Architect?

Most architects are generalists and produce a great variety of projects. Your decision should be based on your confidence in the architect's technical competence, professional service, and design ability. Doing a little homework will go a long way to finding the right architect for your project.

  • Architectural firms come in many sizes and types. Each architectural firm brings a different combination of skills, experience, interest, and values to its projects.
  • You should arrange interviews with several architects to personally review their capabilities, define the scope of the project, discuss their fees, and determine your compatibility to work together throughout the project.
  • Successful projects result when architects and clients form positive relationships with each other. The most thoughtful architects are as careful in selecting their clients as owners are in selecting architects.
  • The services provided by the architect and their interdisciplinary team are subject to negotiations between the architect and owner and depend on the size and complexity of the project and the owner’s needs.
  • The contract should set forth clearly what services the architect will provide. (The American Institute of Architects has developed a series of contracts that may be useful to you.). You will want to select the architect who understands what you want and is able to translate that into the design that is right for you.


How to Work With an Architect

Ask Questions 

As with every job search, questions are critical to helping you determine who will be the right fit. When meeting prospective architects, here are a few guiding factors to consider:

  • Experience — Ask for a portfolio of similar projects and a list of client references.
  • Timeline — Establish an estimated timeline that takes into consideration the architect’s availability, wait time for the approval process, and milestone dates for project completion.
  • Vision — Define the scope and sequence of the project.
  • Design — Prioritize your needs and steps in the design process including how engaged you would like to be in the design process.
  • Budget — Determine a clear and comprehensive fee structure.