How To Work With an Architect

Steps to a Better Building Project

African-American architect at meeting with white couple, man and woman, talking over plans
Be prepared. Make good use of time. Photo by Comstock / Stockbyte / Getty Images

Building or remodeling your dream home begins with building a strong relationship with your design professional. Do you really need to hire an architect? It depends on you and your project. But here are some tips to help you work with your design team as you plan your building or remodeling project. And then we'll give you some tips on how to cope with contracted remodeling.

Developing a Relationship With Your Architect:

  1. Explain your needs and desires in detail. Come prepared to any meeting with bullet points and lists.
  1. Listen to your architect's ideas. Ensure you understand what is being said by repeating or paraphrasing what you hear. This is called reflective or active listening. How Do I Practice Active Listening?
  2. Ask how long the project will take.
  3. Discuss fees.
  4. Review your architect's working drawings. Request changes if needed.
  5. Agree on a construction budget.
  6. Review your architect's detail drawings. These will include specific information ranging from cabinet knobs to plumbing fixtures.
  7. With your architect's guidance, choose a building contractor. Take your time to find the best people for your project.
  8. Allow your architect to negotiate a contract with the contractor.
  9. Use your architect to communicate with the builders.
  10. Don't waste your architect's time. Architects work on "billable hours," so make the most of your architect's time and your own. Learn how to handle your architect's ego.
  11. Take notes, just like you did in school, but don't let it interfere with listening communication.

    How To Survive Remodeling:

    You're about to tear out walls, add new plumbing, or perhaps even add a new room. Remodeling is even more difficult than building a new house. How will you survive the rubble and confusion? These tips will help you keep your construction project going smoothly.

    1. Review the contract with your contractor. Make sure everyone agrees on the work that will be completed and how long it will take. Also be clear on the types of materials that will—and will not—be used. If possible, make videos of the areas before work begins.
    1. Find out what days and hours work will be conducted. Will carpenters show up on Saturday? Will plumbers ring your doorbell at 7 am?
    2. You may need to give out keys to your home. Find out which worker will be responsible.
    3. To avoid confusion, choose one person in your family to act as spokesperson.
    4. Store your stuff. What cannot be stored, cover with drop cloths.
    5. Prevent plaster dust from spreading. Hang plastic sheets over doorways to work areas.
    6. Show workers which bathroom to use and where to wash brushes and rollers.
    7. Lay ground rules. Remind workers to keep the volume on their radios down. Tell workers where they can—and cannot—park their trucks. Set rules for dumping leftover plaster and concrete.
    8. Create a space for worker's tools and supplies. Decide where the dumpster will be placed and for how long.
    9. Preserve one part of your home as a work-free zone where you can live comfortably.
    10. Try to stay out of the work area.
    11. Check materials and fixtures before they are installed. Once the chandelier is hung, it may be too late to change it.
    12. Workers may need to turn off power or water for some jobs. Plan ahead.
    13. Expect delays. Your workers may encounter unforeseen problems. Materials may not arrive on time. One missing worker may throw the construction off schedule.
    1. When requesting changes, go through your architect. If you do not have an architect, speak to the general contractor, project manager, or supervisor.
    2. Living in the midst of a remodeling project is stressful. Plan some meals at your favorite restaurant. Put your own sanity in the budget.
    3. Friendly interest and words of praise will smooth out the rough spots. But, don't slow workers down with chit-chat. Figure out who makes the coffee.
    4. Happy workers are more willing to return later on when you need repairs. Your remodeling project is an opportunity to cultivate life-long relationships with carpenters, plumbers and electricians.
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    Your Citation
    Craven, Jackie. "How To Work With an Architect." ThoughtCo, Mar. 24, 2017, Craven, Jackie. (2017, March 24). How To Work With an Architect. Retrieved from Craven, Jackie. "How To Work With an Architect." ThoughtCo. (accessed December 16, 2017).