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How to Work With an Architect or Designer

by Don Vandervort, © HomeTips

Once you have chosen an architect or designer, he or she will begin the process of developing and drawing up the plans for your remodel. During the interview process (see How to Interview an Architect or Designer), you should have presented all of your ideas—as well as your wish list—for your remodel. Be ready to discuss details about the additional space, storage, lighting, plumbing fixtures, windows, and doors you would like.

At this early stage, be as specific as possible about your desires so the architect or designer does not wander too far afield. This is particularly important if you have agreed upon an hourly fee structure, though if the scope of your project is large enough to involve plans and permits, negotiating a flat fee or a percentage of the cost of the project is a better choice.

During this phase, you want to keep the lines of communication open and frequent so there is little potential for the planning to get off track; requesting weekly meetings is not out of the ordinary. As the plans progress, the architect or designer may use “visualization” tools such as 3D computer software or even scale models to help you see how traffic patterns will flow in the new space and how the remodel will work with the scale and proportion of your house. (For more information, see Visualizing Your Remodel).

Once you are happy with the plans, they must be submitted to the building department for approval. This is commonly done by the general contractor, though in some cases the architect or designer may submit them; in either case, you should have negotiated that the architect or designer absorb any changes required if the plans do not meet code.

Last but not least, it’s a good idea to have your contract with the architect or designer include occasional visits to the worksite once the construction process has begun. Even if it costs you a bit more, it is worth it, especially if you are not well versed in the various aspects of construction. The architect or designer is not only able to check the work but also anticipate any advisable changes that if caught early may not have to incur a change order. And, if a change does incur a change order, an architect or designer may be better able to negotiate with the contractor.

To get free recommendations for top-rated local architects, call the most reliable and comprehensive referral service, HomeAdvisor, at 866-350-2983 (toll free).

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