10 ways to best communicate your ideas to an Architect or Designer

As a professional designer, who has a degree in Architecture and has worked in several Architectural firms, I am going to lay a foundation that will enable homeowners and contractors alike, deal with an architect or designer in communicating their ideas or desires.

Rough sketch to convey correct materials

First, you must understand that Architecture is a very proud discipline. An architect or designer has always been known as one who should know about the history of the building industry as well as have the ability to almost predict the future of the industry. They also have to be able to inspect a sketch given to them and say whether or not it will withstand the sands of time. Yes, it is a very proud discipline, and rightly so.

That said, approach an architect or designer with a sense of wonder. Check to see how they react to your ideas. If you know what you want and they keep saying no, you really want this, maybe you should find another architect or designer. Before doing that, see if they are just trying to get you to change so that you avoid problems that you may not see. Sometimes they have just as hard of a time communicating their thoughts to you as you do to them.

Here are 10 simple steps to follow to make your time with the architect or designer of your choice easier and more productive for them and for you.

1. Go in with a clear sense of what you want. Prepare a quick sketch, or bring in photos and articles of what you would like to incorporate.

2. Be willing to listen to the architects or designers experience. Sometimes they really do know what they are talking about. Part of their job is to make sure the building is structurally sound and that it fits the neighborhood, or area you want to build in.

3. Allow the architect or designer to give you ideas that are different, even the opposite of what you are looking for. This may possibly open up ideas you would never have thought of, or just didn’t think of until it was presented to you correctly.

4. Make sure that your architect or designer has all of the information required to lay out your project. Don’t expect them to read your mind; they can’t, no matter what anyone says. Also, the more information you can bring in that is relevant to your site, the area of build, the HOA requirements and the permit requirements, the better. This allows them to focus more on the design and less on the codes.

5. Make copies of everything you have before giving it to the architect or designer. Projects can get delayed and even stopped because of one missing piece of paper. You always want to keep these documents to go back to in case there is a discrepancy, or some issue.

6. Be persistent. If the architect or designer is just trying to get you to do the things he likes because he doesn’t want to do it the way you like, then leave. You’re the boss, not him/her. However, remember that most are just trying to give you the best possible solutions, so, be careful not to jump to conclusions.

7. Check the style of Architecture he or she designs, prior to accepting the firm. If the firm’s signature is modern and you’re looking for Gothic, there may be a major problem just in getting the preliminary plans correct. Time may be wasted on research, or plan changes that would have been non-existent had you chosen the correct firm.

Going from sketch to design

8. Make sure the architect or designer knows exactly what you expect from them. They tend to be the type of folk who take over a project and make it their own, stop this before it starts if you want full control, or you’ll never get along with them. However, understand that they have done this before, probably a lot. Their experience and ability to take control is exactly why you went to them in the first place.

9. Allow the architect or designer some of his or her own style to be incorporated into your project. This allows you to see a different perspective and allows the architect or designer to share their knowledge and design capabilities.

10. Understand that the architect or designer you initially meet with may not be the one actually drawing your project. You might have meetings with the design staff on a regular basis. What the chief architect or designer knows, their staff has plenty of access to. The architect or designer will be checking over the plans as they go, so, no need to worry about that.

Remember, the architect or designer is there to work within your perimeters and try to make your project functional and fantastic, not just one or the other. They come with a lot of experience and knowledge, so, let them do their job and help them help you.

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