8 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Residential Architect

To help you make the best decision for your project, we've put together this guide on everything you need to know about hiring an architect.

Written by:

Christi Farrell, RA, Leed GA


November 8, 2022

Image source:

Studio Marlowe

Searching for an architect can be a daunting task. With so many options available, it can be hard to know where to start. But hiring an architect is a big decision, and it's important to choose someone who you feel confident will do a good job and help you bring your vision to life.

To help you make the best decision for your project, we've put together this guide on everything you need to know about hiring an architect. We'll cover the basics of what architects do, how to choose the right one for your project, and what to expect during the design process. By the end of this guide, you'll know exactly what to look for when hiring an architect. 

What Do Architects Do?

The first step in hiring an architect is understanding what they do. An architect is a licensed professional who designs buildings and other structures. Architects work with clients to understand their needs and then create a design that meets those needs. In addition to their design work, architects also oversee the construction process to ensure that the finished product meets the standards defined in the drawing set.

When you're searching for an architect, you'll want to find someone who has experience with projects similar to yours. For example, if you're looking to build a new home, you'll want to find an architect who has experience designing homes. Likewise, if you're looking to renovate an existing structure, you'll want to find an architect who has experience with renovation projects. 

How to Choose the Right Architect for Your Project

Now that you know what architects do, it's time to start searching for one that's right for your project. When you're looking for an architect, there are several factors you'll want to consider. First, you'll want to make sure that the architect is licensed in your state or province. Second, you should check whether the architect belongs to any professional organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Membership in these organizations indicates that the architect meets certain standards of education and experience.

Next, you'll want to take a look at the architect's portfolio. This will give you a good idea of their design style and whether they have experience with projects similar to yours. Finally, you should meet with the architect in person or over Zoom, so that you can get a sense of their personality and whether they're someone you'd be comfortable working with. 

What to Expect During the Design Process

Once you've chosen an architect for your project, it's time to start working on the design. The first step in this process is called programming, during which the architect works with you to develop a clear understanding of your needs and goals for the project. This stage is important because it will set the direction for the rest of the design process.

After programming comes schematic design (sometimes referred to as concept design), during which the architect produces preliminary sketches of their proposed designs. These sketches are then presented to you for feedback so that any necessary revisions can be made before moving on to the next stage of design. Next comes design development, during which the preliminary sketches are refined into more detailed drawings. Finally, construction documents are prepared so that contractors can provide accurate bids for building your project. 

After your project is complete, don't forget about post-occupancy evaluations! These allow architects and clients alike to assess how well a space functions after it's been built and occupied. Doing these evaluations can help improve future projects by identifying what works well and what doesn't work so well in a space.


Hiring an architect is a big decision—but it doesn't have to be a difficult one if you know what factors to consider during your search process.. To recap, here are some things to remember when hiring an architect:  1) Make sure they are licensed  2) See if they belong to any professional organizations such as AIA 3) Look through their portfolio 4) Meet with them in person 5) Consider doing post-occupancy evaluations after your project is completed!

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Christi Farrell

Christi is a licensed architect and interior designer specializing in sustainability. She enjoys teaching design and bringing transparency to the impact that furniture has on our planet.

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