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Meeting with an architect while you prepare for an upcoming home renovation project (such as a new home build, remodel, or addition) is an exciting opportunity to get your creative vision across and work with an expert to find the exact design you want for your home.

However, if you’ve never met with an architect before, this meeting can also be a source of anxiety.

Preparation is key to a successful architecture consultation. If you know what to expect before booking a consultation with an architect, you can be ready to ask the questions that matter most. 

This article will guide you through what you should know about your first architecture consultation to guarantee that you get as much value as possible from your initial meeting and are on track to make your project a reality. By following the advice in this article, you will help your architect better understand what you’re trying to achieve with the design and construction of your project.

Why Being Prepared Will Help Your Architect

You might assume that an architecture consultation will be a simple meeting that doesn’t require much preparation. While you might not know every detail of what you want your new design to look like, preparing for a consultation is essential for many reasons.

Simply put, preparing for an architecture consultation is key to making the most of the free consultation.

After the first consultation, many architects will begin charging for their time and expertise. That’s why we encourage you to be as prepared as possible and ask many questions before incurring any hourly charges.

Going into a consultation without prior knowledge of what to expect will make it challenging to know what to do to start your project. By preparing for your consultation, you can ensure that your questions are answered before the design process begins and that you have actionable next steps following the meeting to make your project happen. Being prepared will also help the architect guide you toward the desired end result of the project.

Woman preparing for an architecture consultationTypical Topics Discussed During A Residential Architecture Consultation

An experienced architect that knows what they’re doing will typically cover the following topics to ensure that they have the information they need to put together a proposal for you in the future.

As you prepare for your architecture consultation to take place, double-check that you’re ready to discuss all of the topics below to make the most of your initial meeting. Know what you want to accomplish and ask any questions you may have to get the most out of this meeting.

The Scope Of The Construction Project

Understanding the total amount of work required for your architecture project is one of the essential details to have nailed down before your architecture consultation. 

New home builds, renovations, and additions can cover a vast array of unique designs. Usually, an architect will start the consultation by asking you what you’re looking for in terms of scope before moving forward with more detailed questions about your potential project.

For instance, prepare answers to questions about which areas of your home your looking for an architect to help with. There’s a massive difference between planning changes to your living room and planning changes to your living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms all at once.

The Budget & Potential Project Fees

Once a rough scope of work has been established, the next step is generally discussing your budget for the project, construction costs, as well as any fees it could be subject to from the local building department.

Before your architecture consultation, consider how much money you can reasonably afford to spend on your project. Be prepared to share with the architect your budget, as this is a key detail in determining whether or not your potential project will ultimately end up feasible.  

Even if you just have a very rough number in your head, a professional architect will help you develop a realistic budget. 

From there, the architect will then help you understand any potential fees associated with your project due to various factors, such as zoning or environmental regulations.

The Project Timeline

Once you communicate the scope and budget of your new construction project, prepare to discuss a timeline with your architect. It would be best to leave your architecture consultation with a clear understanding of the specific timeline for the project (along with a target start date). 

Depending on the overall scope of work, the architect will typically explain their thoughts on how long your project will take. 

If you have a more flexible timeline for the project, communicate this with your architect. Shorter timelines likely mean you have to streamline some areas of the project or invest more resources to have it completed by the date you have in mind. 

The Architectural Design Process

The last part of an architecture consultation is typically an overview of the project process so that you know what to expect should you move forward with hiring the architect. 

During your architecture consultation, ensure that the architect provides a preview of the entire process for your project. If they do not have a standardized architecture process, that is a red flag since a standardized process is one of the most important things for ensuring your project can get done on time within your budget with as little stress as possible. 

At JMA Architects, we follow a six-step process to ensure that our clients are able to make their dream home a reality.

  1. Pre-design: This phase of the architecture process covers the period where we discuss your primary goals and ideas for your home project before beginning the design process.
  2. Schematic Design: Following the pre-design phase, our architects move on to the schematic design portion of your home project. This step involves us crafting and sharing schematic plans containing every aspect of your project. You will review the plans before the actual design process begins.
  3. Design Development: During stage three of the architecture process, our architects will prepare drawings of your project with realistic 3D renderings so you can accurately preview the entire design concept of your project.
  4. Construction Documents: This phase begins once the design has been approved. Our architects then begin producing working drawings and specific details for the project to use for bidding and construction.
  5. Project Bid Review: Here, we begin to review bids on our client’s behalf and advise them on which one is the best option for their project.
  6. Construction Observation: In the final stage of the architecture process, our architects will observe the construction by visiting the job site as needed.

What To Come Prepared With To Your Architecture Consultation

Once you know what to anticipate from your architecture consultation, you can gather everything you need to have a successful consultation. 

This step ensures that you have sufficient information to offer the architect so they can help you put together a realistic plan for your project. 

Your Building Goals For The Project

If this is your first architecture consultation, you might know only some of the scope ahead of your consultation. As you go into the meeting, ensure you have a list of high-level goals for your home project. 

Even if you are new to the architecture design process, giving the architect a list of your primary goals can help them establish the scope of your project.

A List Of Questions Regarding Your Architectural Project

Prepare a thorough list of questions before your architecture consultation begins to ensure that you don’t overlook any essential details. Asking questions will help you determine if the architect is right for your project or if you should continue to look elsewhere.

Here are some questions you should ask the architect to guarantee that they are qualified to handle your project:

  • Are you a licensed architect in the state where my project is located and constructed?
  • Do you have specific examples in your portfolio of home projects in the local area that are similar to mine?
  • Will you offer previews of the proposed design during the project process via detailed 3D drawings/renderings?
  • What will the revision process entail? How many revisions will you include in the final proposal?
  • Who else is needed for this project? Will I need to hire additional professionals such as contractors, interior designers, or surveyors?
  • Does your architecture firm have a standard process for projects like mine?

Design Examples Of What You Like

If you’ve been thinking about this project for some time, then you likely have a vision for your project that you want to match closely. 

One way to guarantee you and the architect are on the same page is to offer specific design examples during your architecture consultation of what style you are after.

So if you can, it’s very helpful to come to the initial meeting with your architect able to offer design examples, such as images from magazines, Pinterest, Houzz, and Instagram so they can easily visualize what you want to achieve. 

How To Be Prepared For A Design Consultation with an ArchitectAsk The Architect: Answers To Common Questions

You might still have questions about an architecture consultation that you want to be answered before moving forward with the process. Below are some common questions clients have about their upcoming architecture consultation to give you peace of mind before your appointment.

Does An Architecture Consultation Cost Money?

A legitimate and experienced architect should offer an initial consultation free of charge. In some situations, you might incur consulting fees from your architecture consultation depending on the research or planning the architect must do before beginning your project. But this would be assessed after the initial consultation meeting.

What Is The Next Step Following A Consultation With An Architect?

After your architecture consultation, the architect will typically issue a proposal once you decide to move forward. If your project is complex and requires additional research, you may need to set up an additional meeting to discuss the details.

What Happens If The Architect Is Not A Good Fit For My Project?

Many clients worry about selecting an architect that isn’t suitable for their project. A qualified and skilled architect will be upfront and honest with you if they feel they aren’t a good fit for your project.

Additionally, an architect might inform you that they aren’t the right fit for your project but provide you with information to contact another person in their network that is a better match for your vision.

The best way to ensure an architect is a good fit for your project is to review their portfolio to ensure you like their work and that they have experience handling projects just like yours. 

How Long Will I Need To Wait For A Project Proposal and Contract?

This question depends on your project’s complexity, how long it will take, and the architect’s availability. At the end of your architecture consultation, ask the architect how long you should expect to wait until you receive a proposal to review. Architects generally are comfortable issuing a proposal shortly following the consultation meeting as long as no additional research is needed for them to get a better understanding of your specific project.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for your upcoming architectural consultation is easy when you know everything you should expect from the appointment. We hope this article has given you everything you need to be prepared for your initial consultation. 

If you are located in Northern New Jersey and are considering an architecture project such as renovating/remodeling your home, adding an addition, or planning a new house build, then feel free to contact us..

JMA Architects provide homeowners with high-quality architecture services where open communication and collaboration are a priority. Working with our team, including a professionally licensed New Jersey & New York Architect ensures that your project will be smooth and successful. 

Contact the experts at JMA Architects today to set up your free initial architecture consultation.

John Musinski is the founder and Principal Architect at JMA Architects. John has worked on different building types from small residential to large scale institutional projects. He is accomplished in new construction, additions, renovations, and restoration projects. If you have a project you would like to discuss with John, call 201 529 3524.