15 Questions to Answer Before Hiring an Architect

15 Questions to Answer Before Hiring an Architect

You’re considering building a custom home. You feel inspired by the idea of crafting a space that perfectly reflects your taste, lifestyle and family’s functional needs. The details of the overall finished product haven’t been set in stone yet and you’re not entirely sure what exactly you need to figure out first. If you’re considering designing a custom home but need some guidance on where to start, read these 15 questions to answer for yourself before starting the conversation with an architect. After, you’ll have identified your key reasons and needs for a custom designed home that will help you once you begin working with your architect.

1. What's your reason behind building a custom home?

The answer to this question can be very straightforward: you need more space, your neighborhood isn’t in the ideal location, your current home is too old. Whatever the final conclusion is for building a custom home, defining the reason (or reasons) will help you understand your future home’s needs but also communicate them to your architect, who can provide suggestions and expert advice on the project.

2. Who's going to be living in the home?

Will there be multiple generations living in your home? Do you have children that will be moving out soon? Considering all the occupants of this future custom home is important for answering the next question, too.

3. How big will the new home be?

Knowing how much space (or more specifically, square footage) your family will need provides an idea of what size lot you should be looking for when the time comes. Consider how big you want bedrooms to be, living space, an office, and even outdoor areas if that’s an important part of your custom home’s design. While the best designs don’t simply revolve around square footage, this is a good place to start.

4. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?

Defining the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need can help answer the previous question about the size of the custom home, as well.  Consider if your family will be growing or shrinking in the near future and how necessary each bed and bathroom is. 

5. What other spaces and rooms do you want in the new home?

Aside from bedrooms and bathrooms, consider the additional spaces and rooms you’ll want to include in your custom home design. An office, rec room, home gym, and walk-in pantry are some of the most common spaces our clients will include in their project’s design. Bedrooms can also be convenient office flex space for college-age children or visiting in-laws.

Designing a home is an exciting project - something as simple as paint or natural light can transform a space. To help you prepare for the next steps in your custom build journey, download the 15 Design Elements You Need to Consider Before Designing Your Home.

6. What are must haves and what are nice to have aspects of the home?

In an ideal world, you’d have both the must haves and nice to haves all built into your custom home. However, it’s important to determine which aspects are a need and which are a want so when you’re designing your home you can prioritize properly. Additionally, identifying the difference between the two keeps your project realistic for yourself and your design-build team. 

7. What type of exterior style do you want?

A home’s design doesn’t have to be limited to the interiors! If you don’t know what style you’d want for your home, we recommend using Pinterest or Houzz to spark inspiration.

Farmhouse - this style is a balance of traditional without feeling stuffy. The overall feeling of farmhouse is comfortable, utilizing warm textures like reclaimed wood and white paint.
Prairie - you’ll notice with prairie style homes there’s an emphaisis on horizontal versus vertical lines. Featuring bands of stone, wood or brick on the exterior is common, too.
Tudor - characterized by their steep gables, embellished trim work, and decorative timbering. These homes often have a cottage-y feel.
Modern - the most recognizable characteristic of this style is the clean, simple lines and color palette, while mixing different materials such us metal, glass, and stone.

8. Do you have an interior design style?

You don’t need to know your exact design style or even have one to effectively articulate your style to a design professional. However, knowing what type of finishes, colors, materials, and even structural elements you like before working with an architect will help them interpret your style. They’ll be able to mesh your interior and exterior design to be a cohesive finished look.

9. What's important to you about the architect you work with?

From an empty lot to the finished product, designing a custom home takes time. You want to make sure you’ll enjoy working with your architect throughout the duration of the project.

10. What is your budget for your home build?

One of the most important questions to answer before beginning the custom home design process is what your budget will be. Having a number in mind of what you want to spend can help you further determine what’s a must have and what’s a nice to have, as well as the size, footprint, and design of the home.

11. How intricate do you imagine your home's design?

You can get as detailed as you want – that’s one of the best parts of custom home design! Knowing the level of finish detail you want to incorporate is important when working with a design professional because it helps them understand your style and make suggestions. It can also impact your budget, which is important to keep in mind, as well. Some examples of design details are:

  • tile/hardwood inlays
  • Woodworking details 
  • Wainscoting

12. How involved do you want to be in your home's design?

Some people want to be involved in each part of the home design process, while others are happy to follow the professional’s lead. It can be a balance of the two, but when researching a design professional take into account how they align with your desired level of involvement in the process so you have clear expectations from the start.

13. Will you need help in picking out selections and finishes that work together in a given space?

Bringing a room’s design together is a balance of looking at the big picture and the fine details. Making the hundreds of decisions necessary to finalize the design of a home isn’t everybody’s strong suit, which is another reason why it’s important to work with both an architect and an interior design professional if that’s the case.

At BrightLeaf, your Interior Designer will create a curated design presentation with images of each room’s selections, finishes, light fixtures and appliances (if applicable), plus alternate options to help you visualize the space all together.

14. What floors do you want the different rooms to be on?

Take room location into consideration before you begin your custom home design process. Maybe you want a single level home for aging in place adaptability. Maybe you’d prefer the laundry room to be on the second floor where all the bedrooms are so you’re not dragging a hamper down the stairs. Having this figured out early on prevents unnecessary rearranging once you’ve gotten deep into the design process.

15. What are some things you like in your current home, what are some things you dislike?

Think of this question like a pros and cons list. You can still incorporate aspects you like about your current home into the future one, and acknowledging those you dislike will help you make sure they don’t get included in the scope of design, too.

Bonus Question: How will you be using the home? Entertaining, working from home, etc...

Obviously you’ll be living in this home – sleeping, cooking, relaxing – but don’t forget about the other uses a home offers. Take into consideration if you need to work from home, how often you’ll entertain or host overnight guests. Use these considerations to help guide you in crafting the most important needs for your home.

Hire An Architect That's Right For You

Thinking through these different aspects will help set you up to more effectively select the right architect to work with and then also convey what you need in your custom home once the design process begins. Having your dream home thought through beforehand saves everybody time – you, your design team, and ultimately your builder, too. Just like many other important decisions, early planning is the right first step to take.

Did you know BrightLeaf provides a design-build approach? We specialize in integrating the design and build process from concept to move in for a well organized, enjoyable custom home experience. Combining the two steps instead of separating them saves you considerable time and money because our design and construction teams are communicating throughout the process to ensure your home’s plans are buildable. 

Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself and you feel ready to take the next step in the design process, reach out to us directly or schedule a call with us to explore your custom home options.