Grisafe Architecture was recently approached by a journalist from Redfin to contribute our thoughts for an article titled “19 Essential Questions to Ask a Residential Architect Before Hiring Them.” If you aren’t familiar with Redfin, it is a large, national real estate company that relies heavily on technology to help people buy, sell, and rent homes with lower fees. Their website has an active blog that covers a wide range of topics related to real estate.
We were asked to provide our top tip for homeowners who will be working with a residential architect for the first time. We were only allowed to give one tip, even though there are a lot of things we think people should ask a Long Beach architect before choosing which one to hire. Here’s what Grisafe Architecture owner Mark Grisafe had to say for the Redfin article:
“One of the most important things homeowners should ask about is how involved the architect will allow a client to be in the design process. Most homeowners have some specific ideas about how they want their homes to turn out — either ideas about the overall aesthetic or features they definitely want included. A residential architect should listen to those ideas and find a way to incorporate them into the design instead of trying to talk their clients out of their ideas so they can execute their own vision.”
At Grisafe Architecture, we encourage our potential clients to ask as many questions as possible before signing a contract with us—not just this one. We want them to be completely comfortable with things like our proposed timeline, our level of service, our style of communication, and anything else that’s important to them.
There are a lot of other great questions to ask included in the Redfin article, which were contributed by other architecture firms. Here are a few of our favorites:
What percentage of the architect’s work comes from referrals and repeat clients?
While most architecture firms won’t have an exact percentage to give you (because often clients can’t recall how they heard about an architecture firm in the first place), the architect should be able to give you a general idea of how much of their business comes from referrals. Ideally, this percentage will be very high!
How far does the architect’s involvement go?
The level of an architect’s involvement can vary quite a bit from firm to firm. Some architecture firms in Long Beach, such as ours, will handle the permitting process and oversee the construction. We are also able to include interior design and landscape design, if needed. Other architects prefer to only do the architectural design portion, and then hand off the rest of the tasks to someone else. Make sure you know which type of Long Beach architecture firm you are signing up with, or you could be in for some disappointment when your expectations are not met, or when you have to come up with more money to pay someone else for a service you thought your architect would be providing!
Does the architect understand my lifestyle?
A good architect will work hard to understand you and your family’s lifestyle before they start designing your home. At Grisafe Architecture, we ask a lot of questions about your current home—what you like and don’t like about it—and how you hope to live and feel in your newly designed home. What do you like to do in your downtime while at home? Do you like to entertain? Do you hope to age in place in this home? Do you work from home? What should we know about the kids, pets, and regular guests who will also be using the home?
Your home should be a reflection of you—your lifestyle and your aesthetic. Don’t settle for an architect who thinks otherwise.
What does a successful outcome look like?
There’s no “right” answer to the question, but the answer you are given will tell you if an architecture firm’s values align with your own.
As an architecture firm that is very client focused, our success depends on the satisfaction of our clients. When we have clients who are thrilled with the outcome of the new home, we consider that a win! Other architects may be more concerned with producing bleeding-edge design, getting published in industry magazines, or winning impressive-sounding awards. While there’s nothing wrong with pursuing these things, our definition of a successful outcome doesn’t necessitate achieving these types of goals.
Do you have other questions for our Long Beach architecture firm? Contact us today to get the conversation started!