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December 13, 2013

Selecting an Architect

Any structure you would need an architect for is understood to be a serious investment. Entrusting someone with millions of your hard-earned money is not exactly easy. Remember that your relationship with your architect determines the success of your project. So, finding the right person for the job should only warrant a critical process.

architect at workWhere to Find an Architect

Looking for an architect could be easy for some. Your best bet is still getting one through a referral and chances are, one or two people on your network may already have had an experience working with them. A brilliant first move would be to ask people around for recommendations.

Another option is to scan through the roster of members of professional organizations. In the Philippines, we have mainly two: the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) and the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA). Every country has one: American Institute of Architects, Royal Institute of British Architects, Singapore Institute of Architects, and so on. Each has robust and informative websites to help you throughout the process. When all else fail, you can always trust the prowess of Google.

How to Shorten a Shortlist

Your homework doesn’t stop at getting a referral. Most practicing architects today have their own website or online portfolio. Make sure you review them thoroughly. You should be able to find past projects with brief descriptions, a profile of the architect himself, and, if you’re lucky, a list of clients to help you further on your “evaluation”. Know that business relationships differ from one person and one situation to another. It is important to try to talk to a couple of your prospect’s past clients and see their take on the how everything went down. Find out if they were happy with the result and gracefully ask if there was any particular issue that they had a hard time with in working with this architect. A good architect should have a happy home-owner at the heart of his intent and it’s vital that this should clearly manifest back to you when you hear their experiences.

Look Beyond the Visuals


During the selection process, it’s only normal to be vulnerable to pretty pictures. Take it that every portfolio you would be looking at is a visual gimmick to say the least. No architect in his right mind would show you his ugly projects. Remember that by looking at a still image you are deprived of knowing the issues of comfort. The sense of sight is only one fifth of the senses that compose the overall experience. A picture cannot show you that the valley of the roof is actually susceptible to leak during intense rainfall; or perhaps the fancy glass atrium actually feels like being under a magnifying glass under the scorching heat of our friendly, friendly tropical sun. Even big glass windows can eventually translate to problems with privacy. So be skeptical of why elements are designed a certain way. Realize the difference between a design with a functional basis and one that is solely of a designer’s capricious intent.


You are Buying the Experience


Hiring a really good architect translates to paying a premium. There’s a reason why they are priced high; in almost all cases, I can guarantee you they have earned it. I understand budget is very important but when deciding for your need of shelter, I advise you to not let it come down to the cost. What’s important to determine is whether the architect is worth every penny.


What you don’t see at this point is that the money you think you will end up saving may only be worth the amount of repairs you will have to do around the house over and over. Whereas investing on the right professional may only translate to an increased value for your property. Allow him to maximize your investment.

 The Client-Architect Encounter

Finally it has come to this: the first meet. This encounter can only end in two ways: a deal-breaker or a deal-maker. The importance of this effort is mutual. If you’re architect is smart, he is also under a selection process with you. He reserves the right to decline a project if he deems himself inappropriate or if he feels that he simply cannot work with you. As you begin the discussion of your prospective project, both of your personalities would eventually kick in and both of you should be able to assess whether or not you will be able to work with each other. The length of time you will have to text, call, email, negotiate, and meet with this professional will stretch out from months to years. So don’t settle with someone with a personality you can’t manage. First impression should be enough to gain at least trust from mutual parties.

Beware of the architect who designs for himself and not for you. A good architect should always keep in mind that the end-user is the person who he is providing his architecture for. He should possess the perfect balance of being sensitive to what you and need his recommendation to what may not be appropriate. Your structure should be designed to match your desire and needs and not the other way around. You should never find yourself imprisoned to an architect’s pre-determined style unless with your permission. Don’t let yourself be intimidated.

Remember this now and always: A good architect knows how to listen. Choose an architect who will value your satisfaction above all.


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