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What To Do When the Listing Says "Bring Your Architect"

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For some, the words “bring your architect” can raise a major red flag. For others, that phrase signifies an opportunity to create the perfect dream home. How many walls do you want? Three? Five? A million? Bring your architect! How about a slide from the bedroom to the living room? Get that architect on the phone! Always dreamed of having an image of your own face painted on every tile in your bathroom? You don’t need an architect for that, you weirdo! Just call a contractor (and a guy who paints things on tiles.)

Whether you’re renovating or buying, here is the step-by-step process you need for procuring and working with an architect.

1. Find An Architect: The architect can be an elusive creature. Try setting a trap using a fancy mechanical pencil as bait. If that doesn’t work, ask friends and family if they’ve ever worked with an architect that they’d recommend. You can also conduct a search on the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) homepage.

2. Do Interviews: Once you've narrowed down your list to three or four possible candidates, conduct interviews with them. Talk about your project. Ask about their qualifications. Read their resumes in front of them and furrow your brow. Make sure to ask if they're charging you for the interview. The AIA has a list of questions that you should ask an architect.

3. Make A Decision: The architect that you ultimately decide on should not only have great qualifications, she should also be someone that you feel comfortable working with. If you find an architect whose work is so consistently great that you trust her implicitly, fine. However, if you're expecting to have any input on how the project goes, make sure you find an architect who is willing to listen. Also weigh other factors, such as how busy the architect seems (i.e., how much time she'll be able to dedicate to your project) and how much she's charging. Speaking of which...

4. A Fool And His Money Should Be Careful Around Architects: Different architects have different ways of charging for projects. Some work at an hourly rate, some charge a fixed fee, some charge a percentage of construction costs, some charge based on how many square feet or rooms they're working with, and some charge a combination of all those charges. Make sure to iron out the details with your architect—as best you can—before the project starts. Involve your contractor with this part of the process and try to get the most accurate estimate possible.

5. Draw Up A Plan: Now comes the fun part. Sit down with your architect and draw up a plan for how your home is going to be designed. Don't be afraid to let your opinions and preferences be known—you're the one who is going to be living there, after all. At the same time, try to feel comfortable deferring to the architect on some matters. This is what he's trained for.

6. Get Everything In Writing: The last step is to draw up a contract. The AIA has several standard contracts that you can use. Ask your architect if he wants to sign with blood. If he says no, say, "Well not our blood." Then he'll know not to jerk you around.

7. On Second Thought: Don't do that.
· Curbed University [Curbed]