Find an Architect

Hiring an Architect

Hiring an architect is not unlike hiring other professionals. A referral from a friend, talking with owners of homes you have seen and liked, or identifying the designers of homes published in publications offer different ways of locating likely candidates. A call to the American Institute of Architects, East Bay may be the quickest way to obtain the names of several qualified and interested architects. For more information please call 510/464-3600 or email us.

The AIA East Bay provides architect referrals to the public. We provide up to four referrals to experienced architects for members of the public. Please call 510/464-3600 or email us to tell us a bit about your project, and we’ll email you the referral within one business day.

If you are comfortable with an architect you have identified, there may be no need to interview others. Or, if you wish to evaluate the capabilities and proposals of several, you will need to set up a face to face interview with each.

These interviews often take an hour or more and are held at your home, the project site, or the architect’s office. Many architects will bring a portfolio of project photographs, the addresses of completed work for you to visit, or references from past clients. You should discuss your hopes for the project and the architect will in turn tell you how he/she will respond. The architect will describe working relationships and propose a method of compensation at this time. Many forms of compensation are in use: a percentage of construction cost, a lump sum or hourly fee, or a combination.

Some architects provide complete services from conceptual programming through the final “move in” project review. Some offer design services only. Before being hired, the architect should make clear to you the scope of his or her work. State law requires a written contract between architect and client. While the client-architect agreement describes the basis of relationship, good communication throughout the processes of design and construction is essential to strengthen the trust which is the essence of a successful architectural relationship.

For additional information regarding hiring an architect, refer to the Consumer’s Guide to Hiring an Architect, from the State of California, Department of Consumer Affairs, California Architects Board.

Working With Architects

There are many services an architect can provide to help move your project to successful completion. Everyone knows that an architect can design an aesthetically pleasing and functionally correct building, but the following is a partial list of other services an architect can also provide:

  • Establish overall scope of project
  • Set design parameters
  • Optimize client priorities
  • Create and Explore multiple design concepts
  • Develop 3-D images and explore spacial qualities
  • Set design and construction schedule(s)
  • Determine and control costs
  • Develop details to complement the design
  • Explore and analyze alternate materials and construction methods
  • Research products
  • Evaluate bids and costs
  • Advise client on options
  • Coordinate essential construction information
  • Audit requests for payment and change orders
  • Assure compliance of construction with plans
  • Mediate problems and conflicts
  • Interpret construction documents