Hiring an Architect for Your Next Project: Your Top 6 Questions Answered

Home Renovation

As avid renovators and project seekers, both Andrew and Nancy have lots of experience when it comes to completing home projects, whether that be a kitchen reno, home build or paint colour change. With this experience has of course come challenges and lessons learned. One of the most important lessons learned is the importance of hiring an architect or architecture firm.
Most people shy away from working with architects due to cost, size of project or simply not knowing the true benefits. To convince you otherwise we sat down with our dear friend, John Willmott, of John Willmott Architect, Inc,. Not only is John a friend but has worked with us on many personal projects and whom we regularly refer to our clients.
1. At what point in the project is it time to talk to an architect?
  • A client should engage an architect right from the beginning to navigate the complicated process of designing and having a house constructed.
2. What are the top 3 reasons for hiring an architecture firm for your personal project?
  • An architect’s passion is design, and their creative skill will enhance your project by merging their professional talents with your own ideas with the ambition of making great architecture.
  • An architect is familiar with the entire process of the design, approval and construction which provides a homeowner with comfort in knowing that they are striving to make the project the best it can be throughout the entire building project. In the end a good architect will help to protect your investment through good design and construction choices.
  • Architects are professionals licensed and regulated by the Ontario Association of Architects setting high standards to protect the general public in the built environment and to make sure your building meets or exceeds the requirements of the building code.
3. "I thought architects are only for new builds", what kind of projects can an architect support you with?
  • Most architects will take on additions and interior renovation projects, garden projects, or other unique design challenges.
4. What do you bring to your first meeting with the architect?
  • A "wish list" of your requirements, a survey of the property if available, a general budget for the project and an open mind!
5. What does the process of hiring an architecture firm look like? What do you end up with?
  • Typically every project begins with an introductory meeting so the architect can learn more about the project and the clients goals. It also serves for the client to learn about the design process from the Architect. A detailed proposal of services is then prepared by the architect for the client, commonly in the form of an agreement that spells out the various services that are to be provided, those services not included, fee structure and legal considerations. The proposal is not a design document but it is the basis of the relationship between the client and architect.
6. How do you decide which architecture firm to work with?
  • There are many factors to consider when making a choice of architecture firms. The most important is “fit” meaning do you get along with the architect and can you see working with them and their team on your project? Fit includes personality, design skill with the type of project you are contemplating, services they offer and experience with the municipality where your project is located. Fees are also a consideration, but it is important to understand what services are being provided for the fee. Most architects will charge similar fees or rates for their work, making the other factors most important.
“With the majority of our early projects at home being cosmetic or upgrading of old, I knew our projects were more for the interior designer's eye. Now in the new home we wanted to elevate our approach, as well as correct some functional flows and sightlines within an older home. We were very glad to consult John to ensure we were utilizing space to its fullest, considering the views and light, and what construction hurdles were ahead with a home of such different vintage. His firm's help has set us up for much greater success, and a higher quality finished product, and certainly has expedited the planning and execution stages as well when approaching & working with our contractors. Thank you John! We can't wait to show you the final results!” – Andrew Kadwell
“I will never forget my first meeting with John. This was 14 years ago and I had just purchased my current home - an old bungalow that still had single pane windows! We had lots of work to do (it took me 9 years to complete all of the Wish List). I thought I would start with getting an architect in. During John's first visit, I was babbling on about what I hoped to do and complained that I wished I had a guest powder room on the main floor. As we walked through the home, he casually noted that "you might be able to grab some space here for a powder room". It was a great idea, I would not have thought of it, and eventually I did do it. John was immediately able to suggest something I had not considered. I also had him design my 'idea' for the windows in the family room, and of course for the front porch on the house. Absolutely worth getting to know a good architect for renovations. It is amazing what a professional architect can bring to the final result.” – Nancy Robertson

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