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6 Questions to answer before you meet with an architect

Often, architects offer a free initial consultation to discuss your project and give some basic advice before drafting up a fee proposal. Other architects may charge an initial flat rate consultation fee and give you design ideas and more detailed answers to specific questions you may have. Either way, it is in your best interest to make great use of this valuable time by being clear about what your actual project is.

Sounds straight forward? Well let’s see how quickly you can answer these 6 questions before you meet with an architect.

1. Why?

What are the drivers for your project? Is there a change in your circumstances, are you downsizing, have a growing family, running a business from home or looking for a more sustainable living environment? This is a great starting point for the architect to understand as it starts to inform other factors such as timing, needs and budget.

2. What are your needs?

This is the easy one to answer. You should already have an idea of the amount of spaces you need, sizes of spaces, number of people to be accommodated and so on. You also need to consider if you have special needs with special furniture pieces, collections of display items, or do you hold particular functions, or have special acoustic or lighting needs? You may want a design to be adaptable for the aging or for future subdivision opportunities.

3. How much?

Yes you need to talk about money from the get go. This is imperative as the architect can size up your needs against your budget and tell you straight up if your plans are doable. The construction cost is often referred to as ‘the cost of works’ which is the amount for the builder to construct the building from the approved documentation. But the project cost doesn’t end there. The total project cost can include an additional amount of 20 – 35% for fees, consultants, landscaping, furnishing, connection fees and relocation. The architect usually wants to know your budget for the construction cost as this is where their expertise lies.

4. What are your likes and dislikes?

This one may be a little harder to articulate and can often be accompanied with images, art or poetry – anything that helps your architect get an understanding of who you are. Take a look at your previous homes. What have you loved or loathed?

5. What are your living habits?

Often hard or sometimes uncomfortable to describe, these need to be articulated in order to have design specific to the way you live. Architects keep this information confidential and believe me they have heard some strange requests! How and where do you spend time in your home, what time of the day or time of the year? Are there regular activities, special occasions, future plans and methodical approaches to how you want to bring the shopping in? A new home is also a great way to change living habits, say if you want to adopt more sustainable habits, this would be a great time to consider that too.

6. How do you want the spaces to feel?

Think of textures, light and dark, open or enclosed, natural or highly controlled. Here the emphasis is on the invoked mood and feelings of spaces and in my opinion is the most important aspect as it informs the ‘soul’ of the home. This is the main element missing in most mass produced project homes.

Your home should be a reflection of who you are. By answering these questions it begins to paint a picture for the architect of the background and components of the painting. By reflecting on these questions it also is a way for you to more deeply communicate what your project is, your aspirations and who you are. The benefit being an end result that is highly attuned to you.

Best of luck with your project and finding your perfect architect. And yes, I will give you some pointers on choosing your architect in an upcoming blog post!


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Fiona Golding is an Architect at Live Architecture, a Warrnambool-based studio, specialising in sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes.


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