Selecting Your Architect

There are books, articles, and resources that describe ways to pick your architect. An internet search will point you in their direction, and a few to check out first are listed below.

Reading those resources is helpful and recommended. But they’re general and may not specifically apply to you and your project. So here’s some more background thinking for you… maybe you’ll develop your own criteria for selecting an architect!

Here are Five Ideas:

1. Know Whether or not Working with an Architect would be Good for You and Your Project
If you haven’t already done so, please read Should you work with an architect?

2. Understand Your Project
You will want different professionals based on your project scope, budget, and schedule. Here are some questions to think about before you start contacting architects.

  • Is your project big or small? The larger it is, the more you’ll want expert guidance from the beginning of design through the end of construction. On larger projects, paying Architect’s fees may save you money overall (because your project will be better planned… meaning it may be more efficient and more predictable in terms of construction cost and schedule).
  • What is your project’s style? You’ll want to make sure the architect you select has a design portfolio you like, but also that the architect is an expert working within your desired style. At Klopf Architecture we specialize in warm, modern design, and are also known for our remodels and additions to mid-century modern and Eichler houses.
  • Do you have a high or low budget in mind? (If you don’t know you should read this, and also ask a contractor. Pick one who would be qualified to build your project.) If you have a higher budget in mind you probably want an architect who can handle your project from start to finish. At Klopf Architecture, we aim to allow you to maximize your time at work and with your family instead of dealing with your project. If you have a lower budget in mind, you’ll want to ask your architect if he/she knows how to use less expensive finishes in creative ways (we do) and if they think it’s a good idea for you to put a lot of sweat equity into your project (we don’t – in limited doses sweat equity is OK but all-in-all your better off with a general contractor handling your project).
  • Do you already have a contractor or will you need one? If you have one, we’ll want to make sure the contractor has built in the proper style successfully in the past. At Klopf Architecture we have a range of contractors we’ve already worked with from all over the Bay Area. We share the appropriate names with our clients.
  • Do you understand the risks completely, and know how to avoid them? Our perspective is that only with detailed and specified drawing sets can you avoid as many risks as possible in your project. Furthermore, you’ll only get accurate pricing if there are enough details and specifications in your drawing set. Other architects may not want to provide these more complete drawings so be aware that you will be facing some risks unprepared if you work with that type of architect. Read about the risks of construction projects for more information on this.

3. Understand what Architects Do
Architects should do much more than draw a floor plan. At Klopf Architecture, we help you lead a team of people that envisions, designs, draws, specifies, permits, and builds your project. We’re your “go-to” person throughout the project, whether it’s for design advice or questions on dealing with contractor problems. Our clients get to know us quite well by the end of the project.

4. Consider what Types of Architects and Contractors would be Available to Work on Your Project
Some architects specialize in small projects with a low level of detail required. While they may be a good choice for a bathroom remodel where you already know all the finishes… they would not be an appropriate firm to lead your team through the design and construction of a well-detailed new home, an addition, or even a larger remodel project. To learn more about what Architects can provide, please see how we work with our clients.

5. Ask an Architect about this (Here’s our opinion)
Some people make limited considerations about picking an architect (perhaps they look at portfolio, check references, and ask about the fee). Your relationship with your architect is kind of personal, and the value your architect brings to your project can far exceed a good design. Here are some of Klopf Architecture’s qualities that add value to your project. Our track record with past clients says that we will:

  • get along with you and your family
  • listen to your goals; help you develop realistic goals if you’re open to that
  • help you articulate your goals as a third party mediator
  • explain to you the processrisksbudget, and schedule of your construction project
  • care deeply about your resources (i.e. your money and your time)
  • care about your peace of mind throughout the project
  • communicate well with you, other professionals, city agencies, and contractors
  • have a team with proven accomplishments that relate to your project
  • run an organized business (meaning we can also keep your project organized)
  • have a reputation for trustworthiness
  • understand the language of your warm, modern or mid-century modern / Eichler house
  • know how to design new houses with a warm, modern feeling.

When you work with us, we take your side and do what we can to help your project turn out the way you want it to. Be sure, when comparing architects, that you take these types of concerns into consideration.

Resources to Go to First:
California Architects Board Consumer Guide (PDF download)
American Institute of Architects (AIA) Tips for Consumers