What to do Next: consulting an architect.

When you’re thinking of remodeling a house but aren’t ready to hire an architect, you can still benefit from an architect’s ideas, thinking and experience at a reasonable cost. Many architects provide consultation services that help you with concepts, options and a roadmap to a potential project without the expense of a full-blown professional engagement.
If you decide to hire an architect for a consultation, here’s a checklist of items that will help the consultation go smoothly and produce the information you need.
  • Property Information. Assemble as much property information as possible and send to the architect before the consultation. The material can include a legal description, property deed, even an old survey and older floor plans if you have them.
  • Your thoughts and ideas. Write down some of your own ideas for the house, and bring the list to the consultation. Ask the architect about each of those ideas. Be specific (a bigger kitchen) but not too specific (make bedroom 1 into a dining room). Prioritize your thoughts in order of importance. Divide the list into needs vs. wants. Let the architect know what your general thoughts are, but leave enough flexiblity (or vagueness even) for the architect’s creative thinking to swing into action.
  • Property Research. Ask the architect to do research on the property to make sure that your intended remodel is legally feasible. Does the zoning code allow you to add the desired square footage? How far back can the new addition go? Can the detached garage move to the rear of the property?
  • Time Frame. How long will the project take? Ask the architect to develop a rough project timeline. This should include the design process, obtaining a permit and estimated construction period.
  • Costs. Request a ballpark estimate on anticipated construction costs. Understand that there are reasonable limits on an architect’s ability to predict costs before the project is fully developed.
  • Report. Ask for a written report, or summary, outlining the architect’s thoughts and conclusions. This item is especially important. A meeting with an architect is an act of thoughtful creative exploration in itself, and after the meeting it can be difficult to remember everything that was discussed or agreed. Ask the architect to summarize the consultation in writing so that you can revisit the project’s ideas later.