How to Find the Best Architect for You

Holly and Laura from HPD Architecture in Dallas, with client

As you begin your search for your architect, whether in Dallas, Texas or Denver, Colorado, please allow us to offer some advice. There’s more to the selection process than what you’ll see in a résumé or proposal. Don’t just look for a list of numerous awards. You want to make sure the architectural firm you choose is the best fit for you and your project.

Whether you are planning a home remodel, developing office buildings, or interested in the historic preservation of a significant landmark building in downtown, there’s a lot to think about. Choosing the right architecture and design company to guide you through all of those decisions is the key to success.

Imagine interviewing as if you were looking for a partner on an online dating site. He or she may look like a good match on paper, but if there’s no chemistry when you meet in person, asking them to describe their architectural design philosophy isn’t really going to matter. You will be spending a considerable amount of time with your chosen firm so, you want to feel both comfortable and confident with them.

So, from an experienced architecture firm, here are a few tips that we think will help you find your best match.


1. Ask the architect to sit down and talk first.

When inviting an architect to your home for an interview, it’s tempting to start a home tour while reciting your wish list the second they walk through the door. Resist this urge. First, ask them to sit down and talk. Finding out if you actually like the person that you are going to be spending the next weeks and months with, is worth the investment in time up front.


2. Ask the architect to put away any brochures or portfolio.

We are the first to admit that we love doing the architecture portfolio dog-and-pony show. We are more than happy to show you all the wonderful work we’ve done. But that’s not really the point. We’re at your home to find out about you, and to answer your questions as they come up. Not to show you what we can do, when we’re not even sure what it is you really need. Chances are you’ve already looked at their work online, so you probably like the type of work they are capable of producing.


3. Ask about their background.

Get to know your architect. Find something in common that will help you to relate to each other. Ask about their family, where they’re from, and where they went to school. Ask why they chose architecture as a profession, and about what topics they are passionate.

A story related by hpd architecture + interior’s Laura Davis illustrates this point nicely. “When I was in high school my parents interviewed architects to design our house. Turns out the one they selected was an avid fly fisherman and his wife was a school teacher…just like my parents. Our families have been friends ever since. I babysat for their two sons and even worked a summer internship during college at his office.” There is much to be said for the value of knowing from where your architect comes.


4. Ask about experience with your project type and location.

You want as few surprises as possible during the design process and construction of your project. Someone who has had experience with similar work is good to have on your side. Ask how familiar they are with local codes, zoning, ordinances, building inspections, etc.

Resist the urge to ask your brother-in-law, who may be a successful large-scale commercial architect , to design an addition off the back of your house. That’s not to say he couldn’t handle it, but chances are that he’s not going to have relationships with the right kind of consultants and contractors specializing in residential projects. And he may not know the pitfalls to expect and avoid with that type of project. 


5. Share information about yourself.

Don’t be afraid to share your emotional side. By letting your prospective architect know how you want to feel in the space and what you hope to accomplish they will know better how to help you.

Dive under the surface of “I want a new master bath” to find the true reason of, “I need a clean, calm sanctuary that is all mine, so I can relax and soak away the stress of the day because then I can sleep better and be a better mom to my kids.” In the interim, we might suggest a Xanax and a vacation, but we can also then fine-tune the lighting, space planning, sound insulation, materials, and storage (…maybe a wine refrigerator?) in the new bathroom to give you the sanctuary you desire.

When it comes down to selecting your architect, do your homework and go with your gut. You will think with your head, but decide with your heart. Choose someone you know, like, and trust. If you haven’t found that person yet, keep looking.

If you would like to talk with architects Holly Hall or Laura Davis of hpd architecture + interiors, please contact us below. We look forward to meeting with you!


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