A great architect will do more than just help you plan a serviceable space, they'll show you how to maximise what you’ve got, save money on your build, increase the value of your home, and save energy.
Follow these three steps to finding a great architect for your home renovations.
1. Prepare your brief
Before you start searching for an architect, have a good think about exactly what you want to do, how the new space will accommodate your family, the style you like and what kind of budget you have. In addition, map out the level of involvement you’re expecting from your architect. Are you looking for a basic design and assistance arranging permits; or someone to project manage the entire renovation?
Also, think about how much disruption you’re prepared to put up with and for how long, as this will likely be a question you’re asked early on.
2. Find an architect
Even if you happen to find an architect through a recommendation or by driving past a home you admire and doing a door-knock enquiry, it’s a good idea to do your research if only as a learning experience and to give yourself peace of mind.
The Australian Institute of Architects has created an easy-to-use database, findanarchitect.com.au, which is searchable by region and building type, and displays only architects who have been registered by state boards. You can even search by ‘Home extension’ to find architects who specialise in residential renovations. All the architects on the site are accredited and are committed to continuing professional development so you can rest assured they have a good understanding of current regulations and technologies.
Once you’ve developed a long list of architects, investigate further by checking out their work online, face-to-face and by speaking to former clients, and soon enough you’ll have a workable shortlist.
3. Meet three potentials
This would have to be the most repeated piece of advice in choosing suppliers, and with good reason – once you’ve met with at least three architects, you’ll have a much better understanding of the subtle differences between style, processes and priorities.
If you share your brief in a reasonable level of detail you’ll quickly get a good sense of how the architect has interpreted it and whether their vision matches yours. Don’t be shy about stating your realistic budget and whether or not that includes their fees - the more upfront and honest you are, the more honesty you’ll get in return.
After you renovate, you may want to think about double-checking that your energy plan still suits your needs. Try EnergyAustralia’s free online calculator tool.