Why You Should Hire an Architect - Commercial

Why You Should Hire an Architect
Business Projects
Are you planning a building project? The best time to bring in an architect is as early as possible in the project. Long before plans and specifications are developed, there are many crucial decisions to be made. What impact will site selection and zoning constraints have on your project?
Architects can help you evaluate your options. Predesign services provided by an architect can save you time and money. Architects play key roles in economic feasibility studies, obtaining project financing, and developing project budgets and schedules.
5 Steps for Selecting an Architect
Step 1 : Research Firms
Ask colleagues for referrals
Find out the names of firms that have designed projects similar to yours that you like 
Consult ArchiPages, the statewide directory of AIA firms in Illinois, at your 
local library, or order it from AIA Chicago
Search the Internet
Step 2 : Request Information
Describe your project and ask each firm about their availability
Seek qualifications and references, including illustrations of recent work
Step 3 : Review and Evaluate
Consider these factors: 

The size of the firm 
How long it has been in practice
Special expertise in this project type 
Their ability to work within budget and schedule constraints 
Management Ability 
Knowledge of local building codes and zoning regulations 
The ability to work with other specialists, if necessary 
Visit at least one project of each architect under consideration 
Call client references
Step 4 : Interview Firms
Create a short list of three to five firms to interview
Allow at least an hour for the interview
Make sure that the people you interview are those who will actually be working on your project
Decide on location for the interview: at your office, the architect can gain a better understanding of you and your project; at the architect’s office, you can see how the architect and staff work.
Step 5 : Make the Selection
In making your final determination, you will want to look at:
Design quality
Technical competence
Experience
Cost
Organization 
Availability of key staff
You will also be looking for an architect who:
Is responsive to your needs
Listens carefully
Understands your situation and is asking the right questions
Makes you feel comfortable
You will be working with the architect for a long time and it is important that you trust the architect’s judgment and ability.
The key to successful design projects is careful management of the process, wise selection of the players, and good communication. A thorough understanding of your goals, needs, and risks will enable you to build relationships and assemble the right team of design and construction professionals for your project. An architect can guide your way through your construcion journey and direct you toward solutions you may have never considered.
20 Questions You Should Ask Your Architect
1. Whom will I be dealing with directly? Is that the same person who will be designing the project? Who will be designing our project?
2. How will you approach our project?
3. How will you gather information about our needs and project site?
4. How will you establish priorities and make decisions?
5. What do you see as important issues or considerations in the project? What are the challenges of the project?
6. What is your design philosophy?
7. What are the steps in your design process?
8. How busy is your firm?
9. How interested are you in this project?
10. What sets your firm apart from the rest?
11. How does your firm establish its fees?
12. How do you organize a project?
13. What do you expect us to provide?
14. What is your experience in obtaining local government approvals?
15. What is your experience with cost estimating?
16. What will you show us along the way to explain the project?
17. How do you handle change orders? Who pays for changes?
18. If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? How will these fees be justified?
19. What services do you provide during construction?
20. Do you have a list of clients you have worked with?
Find the Right Contract
The documents produced by the AIA are the most widely used standard form contracts in the construction industry. They facilitate communication among all the parties involved in construction, which makes it easier to produce a high quality project in a timely and economical fashion.
AIA documents are fair.
AIA contracts and forms are consensus documents that reflect advice from practicing architects, contractors, engineers as well as owners, surety bond producers, issuers and attorneys. AIA documents balance the interest of all the parties, so not one interest, including that of the architect, is unfairly presented.
AIA documents reflect industry practices, not theory.
Where practices are inconsistent or no guidelines for practices exist, the AIA documents provide a consensus-based model for practitioners to follow.
AIA documents reflect changing construction practices and technology.
AIA documents are revised regularly to accommodate changes in professional and industry practices, insurance and technology.
AIA documents reflect the law.
AIA documents are revised and updated to incorporate changes resulting from court interpretations and rulings, legal precedent, and nuances.
AIA documents are flexible.
AIA documents can be easily modified to accommodate individual project demands. Such changes are easily distinguished from the original, printed language.
AIA documents are easy to interpret.
AIA documents use the commong meaning of words and phrases. Industry and legal jargon is avoided whenever possible.