26 Questions

When interviewing potential architects to design the home of your dreams, the home you have waited so long for, please consider asking the following questions (extracted from AIA Chicago Guidelines):

  1. Does the architect have Errors & Omissions Insurance (Liability) that will cover your project in the event the architect makes an unintentional mistake on the plans for your project?  (Ask the architect for a copy of the insurance certificate for your records.)
  2. Is the architect a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) a professional organization that requires its members to take annual continuing education units to stay current on the profession and issues of public safety?
  3. Does the architect use AIA Contracts or a Letter Form of Agreement?  The AIA Contracts protect both the architect and the client; a Letter Form of Agreement is usually written by the architect or their attorney, and generally benefits the architect in the event of a dispute.
  4. Does the architect have a list of general contractors he/she has worked with?  (Call the GC’s and ask if the plans provided by the architect to the GC and the subcontractors were complete in all respects, including architectural and structural ‘details’.  Nothing prolongs a project or increases construction costs more than change orders, questions in the field or ‘make-shift’ solutions because of lack of complete drawings.)
  5. What does the architect see as important issues or considerations in your project?
    What are the challenges of the projects?
  6. How will the architect approach your project?
  7. How will the architect gather information about your needs, goals, etc.
  8. How will the architect establish priorities and make decisions?
  9. Who from the architecture firm will you be dealing with directly?  Is that the same person who will be designing the project?  Who will be responsible for the project through its completion?
  10. How interested is the architect in your project?
  11. How busy is the architect?Do they have time for your project?
  12. What sets this architect apart from the rest?
  13. How does the architect establish fees?
  14. What does the architect expect his/her fee to be for your project?  What does the architect expect the total
    development (building) cost to be for this project?
  15. What was the date of the last project the architect completed in this area or on this type of terrain?  Can the architect support his/her guess of development (building) costs?  (Prices change faster than you think - on
    average prices go up 10-15% per year.)
  16. What is the architect’s experience/track record/reputation with cost estimating?
  17. What are the steps in the design process?
  18. How does the architect organize the process?
  19. What does the architect expect you to provide?
  20. What is the architect’s design philosophy?
  21. What is the architect’s experience/track record with your city’s planning department or county commissioners?
  22. What will the architect show you along the way to explain the project?  Will you see drawings, sketches, models, 3-D virtual reality walk-throughs of the space?
  23. If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees?  How will these fees be justified?
  24. What services does the architect provide during construction?
  25. How disruptive will construction be?  How long does the architect expect it to take to complete your project?
  26. And, of course, does the architect have a list of past clients?