Interior design expert Jacinta Preston reveals how to choose the right architect for your project and how to convey to them what you want by creating a brief
All design projects are essentially about research and planning. Briefing and working with an architect is no different.
Most architectural projects respond immediately to existing problems and ambitions or, in other words, your “wish-list”. Finding the perfect architect starts with getting a detailed understanding of your brief.
But there are a series of things you can do to make sure you end up with the right architect and the right brief.
1. Shop around
Research your architect. It’s important that you understand the type of work each architect does so you can align your project requirements and their architectural practice.
Create a shortlist of architects that have demonstrated they know the sort of outcome you’re looking for. Ensure that the architect is registered by checking online with the Board of Architects in your state.
2. Interview your candidates
Interview the architect. It’s important to know that an architect that specialises in large public works may not be the best professional to assist with your project, no matter how well you get on – even if you’re friends of friends!
Ask the architect if they’ve ever been in dispute with clients or builders. If so, ask why. The reasons for dispute may be valid, and as simple as non-payment, for example.
3. Consider cost, time and quality
Ask the architect how they manage the three core ingredients of any project: cost, time and quality.
Architects tend to prioritise design quality and this may match your objective, but it may not. Cost is so often in direct conflict with quality. Study the core ingredients of your project and sort your order.
Most projects will be a “high-low” mix. You should now be at the point where you can invite two or three architects to provide a fee proposal, which should include examples of their previous work.
4. Create a project brief
Always put your brief in writing. If you can’t do this, have the architect provide a “reverse brief”, also in writing.
A brief should contain a detailed description of the physical building, for example, number of rooms, description of light, form, and aesthetics, and importantly, functional requirements.
The brief should include all of the things on your “wishlist”, prioritised. Include a collection of photographs and tearsheets of spaces and ideas that you love, and that you think would be a good fit for your project. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!
Request a staged proposal that documents fees for each stage of the project; typically this would include preliminary design, development application, construction documentation, and contract administration.
Once you’ve chosen an architect, trust them to do their job – your research is comprehensive and the brief is sorted, and documented.
Words by: Jacinta Preston
Photography by: Justin Alexander
From the editors of Real living