The dream home dancing in your head is perfect, but you don’t want it to exist only in your mind’s eye forever – if you really want to live it, eventually you have to get it down on paper. So how will that image in your head become a three-dimensional, honest-to-goodness home? Unless you’re set on a kit log home or a stock timber home plan with no structural changes, you’re going to need an architect. Here are some things to consider when you’re searching for the architect to make your dream come true:
Is the architect familiar with the product used to construct your home?
Mountain style log and timber homes require specialized materials and methods that will impact construction, from the overall building plans to schematics for wiring and plumbing. Look for an architect experienced with the niche building type you’re using.
Will the architect provide engineered construction drawings?
If you’re building in an area with a heavy snow load, seismic or other site related conditions it is important to understand if your architect provides engineered construction drawings or if that is something you will need to have done separately.
Is the architect familiar with environmentally friendly design?
Ask whether the architect has designed “green” buildings before, and about what materials or techniques he or she used to make the design more eco-friendly.
Is the architect able to design to a budget?
Building to your budget is key, if the architect designs a home that you can not afford, time and money may be spent revising the plan. Be honest about your budget and work with an architect that has the ability to design a home to your specific budget.
What will your architect provide?
Will you get conceptual drawings or full construction drawings? Do you get a color rendering or just a floor plan and elevations? How many revisions are included in the design fee? Don’t be afraid to ask what’s included.
Is the architect involved with the whole building process?
Find out whether the architect will participate in the process, including monitoring the project’s progress, and advising the contractor if necessary. If he or she isn’t willing to communicate with your crew during construction, the integrity of your home’s design could be compromised.
Do they have rendering capabilities?
In addition to design drawings, you’ll want images of your home rendered in a detailed sketch, computer enhanced drawing, or even a 3-D model. The architect may do this, or hire a service to produce renderings, but if the service isn’t available you’ll have a more difficult time seeing what your finished home will look like.
Has the architect worked with a variety of site conditions?
Architects who have worked in only one building region may be limited in their ability to tackle vastly different terrain, or weather conditions (such as snowload) that will impact your design. Be certain your architect has experience designing for your site conditions.
What services are available?
Does the architect have options for interior design, landscaping or outdoor structures? If these are important to you, know up front if they are available.
Would you want to live in one of the architect’s previous projects?
When you review the architect’s website, or look around the office lobby, are you inspired to want to be in those buildings? Can you see yourself living, entertaining and relaxing there? Your emotional reaction to the architect’s work is important, so be sure to give it its due.
How will you communicate with your architect?
With today’s technology it is easier than ever to communicate. Although it is quite common for your architect to live somewhere other than your build site communication will still be key. Make sure to find out what method the architect uses to interact with clients and decide if that works for you.
Choosing an architect for your custom wood home project should be an enlightening process, and one that leads you to a professional who instills the confidence to move ahead with your custom log or timber home plans.