As we shelter in place, we have spent a lot of time at home this last year… a lot of time. It has given many people time to reflect on their space and how they interact within their surroundings and for some, it has inspired a time for a change. We have had many new clients reach out to us wanting to enhance their living space and build their dream home asking where do we start?
You’ve decided you want to build your dream home. You want to design the ideal office with the perfect corner suite. You’ve got your plot of land in the location you always wanted, but what are the next steps? You need an Architect to design it, but how do you know how to pick the right one for your project? We have outlined a few details to help you explore what you need to know about an architecture firm before you hire them.
What projects do you specialize in?
Starting off with the broadest question, it is important to get to the heart of the decision. Here at Frankfranco Architects, we specialize in custom residential and commercial projects, as well as interior design and furniture fabrication. While we are not limited to this scope, it is where we excel, have the most knowledge, resources, and strength. The same philosophy applies to an industrial architect, who may be more effective at creating the ideal factory or warehouse, as opposed to a charming chateau on the ridge. As a client, it is important to research the strengths of your firms in question in order to gauge whether they are the right fit for the type of project planned.
At Frankfranco, we specialize in highly detailed custom home design.
What aspects of the design and construction can you handle?
When working with a firm, it is important to know their goals and limitations within the scope of your project. How detail-oriented are they? How well do they deal with contractors and how much can they customize your home? Knowing what a firm can do is crucial when interviewing them for a project. Have they done projects similar to what you are proposing? Do they have the resources to achieve your goal? The architect is in charge of the design and overseeing construction, so it is important that you are aware of their required scope of work and the project deliverables are made clear. Your project is in their hands, so you have to know what they can and cannot do. Here at Frankfranco Architects, we offer a fully capable team of architects and drafts-people who have years of experience in the business. We have connections to contractors and builders, as well as the ability to manage projects from both on-site and from the office.
What can we expect to see given our budget?
Budget is simultaneously the limiting factor of a project, as well as the factor that determines the potential you can achieve. Knowing your budget is one part, the other is knowing what your architect can do for you with that budget. When interviewing a firm, ask about past projects they have done in your price range. Do research on your site to be knowledgeable about zoning and cost-effectiveness when it comes to getting builders and engineers to your location. Understand the limits of your site, like how wide your building can be, how many stories, how far from the property line the exterior has to be. Tabulate all these site factors, and use them to make an informed decision on how much you want to spend. As the handler of money on the project, it is integral that you are aware of how much a dollar will get you, and an architect can help you actualize it.
Who will be working on the project?
It is important that you spend time learning about the team behind the work within a firm. When meeting with an architect for the first time, ask about their workflow, employees, and ethics. It is likely that multiple people will be working on your project, so be knowledgeable about them and their strengths. Be aware of their skills, preferences, bias, and work with them on finding a design for your building that works with your idea. A firm is a well-oiled machine, with different people having different specialties and allocations of time allotted to individual tasks. For example, one person may be stronger at project management, whereas one is great at realizing details. In conjunction, the team works and flows well, so it is important that as a client, you are aware of their individual outputs.
(FrankFranco Architects – Marianetti Motors)
Keep an open dialogue with your architect; help them help you.
How fast can you get it done?
Time, the hardest question of all. When interviewing a firm for a project, be critical about timelines. As the client, be aware of how long it takes to complete the steps of a project so that you can how a realistic understanding of how long your project will take. Be aware of how revisions to designs and their resulting fallouts with building code and municipal review add time to the production of a project. Complexity and customization take time, so be critical within your own vision to establish a reasonable timeline. A typical project at Frankfranco has to undergo many layers of inspection by the municipality it resides in, as well as review from engineers, surveyors, and potential governing bodies that deal with conservation authorities. Breaking by-law restrictions adds additional time as well, as meetings with city officials require completely new sets of drawings. When interviewing a firm, be specific and knowledgeable about your idea so that they may give you accurate estimates for both the drawing and building of your dream project.