20 Questions to Ask Your Architect

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has compiled a list of 20 questions to ask your prospective architect. We’ve tackled their inquiries to allow you to get to know SPACE & MARK LLC and the way we work. These questions shed light on how our firm approaches a project, a bit of our design philosophy, and our strategy to scheduling and pricing rates.

SPACE & MARK LLC Answers AIA's 20 Questions to Ask Your Architect

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What does the architect see as important issues or considerations in your project? What are the challenges of the project?

As architects, we continually investigate and study options to reconcile your design problem. Often times, this exploration is guided by considering the balance between the client’s goals and budget, while meeting the zoning and life safety codes of local authorities. It is especially important to address the existing site conditions, including environmental and site factors, plus the urban context in which the project will be situated.

How will the architect approach your project?

Our ultimate goal is to offer the best design option for our client’s lifestyle while providing a pleasant experience throughout the design process. That requires a lot of listening on our part, as we aim to fully understand the project and then your feedback on our proposed options. We thoroughly enjoy the continual dialogue and find that communicating our thoughts through drawings, sketches and 3D models helps everyone be on the same page.

How will the architect gather information about your needs, goals, etc.?

We need you to be part of the process. Our design process begins after an initial consultation where we listen to your needs, goals, things you like, and things you don’t like. Your narrative informs our design approach, and we will continue this communication (through conference calls, emails and face-to-face meetings) as we refine the design of your home.

How will the architect establish priorities and make decisions?

Our priorities align with your priorities. We make decisions based on your goals, budget and time constraints.

Who from the architecture firm will you be dealing with directly? Is that the same person who will be designing the project? Who will be designing your project?

Our principal, Hayk Ekshian, will be involved in all stages of the project, bringing his experience and design talent to each project. Hayk makes the effort to answer each phone call and respond (super fast!) to email to address any question, concern, or new thought that may arise.

How interested is the architect in this project?

If we have accepted to work on the project, we will give it our utmost care and attention. We are fully invested in contributing something to the built environment that looks, feels, and performs even better then you could have hoped. We are proud that our energy, end product and experience makes many of our clients come back to us with new projects, or recommend us.

How busy is the architect?

We accept a limited number of projects per month to ensure that each client has the same high quality experience throughout the process and is completely satisfied with the design solution.

What sets this architect apart from the rest?

Beyond our design abilities, we live where we practice and are familiar with neighborhood identities and local construction techniques. We use the latest building modeling software which not only ensures accurate coordination of the drawings but also allows us to draw and study more options in less time – in turn reducing our architectural fee.

How does the architect establish fees?

After our initial consultation, we establish a customized service package suitable for the project. We build upon our basic package - adding or eliminating services according to what you and your project require. This customized package defines the extent of our architectural scope so our time is invested in the parts of the project it should be.

What would the architect expect the fee to be for this project?

We provide fixed fees based on the estimated number of hours required to complete your customized service package. We will provide additional services, if required by our client, at an hourly rate.

What are the steps in the design process?

After our initial consultation where we determine your needs and goals, we perform pre-design services, such as field measurements and zoning analysis. From there, we start sketching ideas and concepts, and use drawings and renderings to visually explain our vision. A more in-depth look at our process can be found here

How does the architect organize the process?

Our process always guides the client from general concepts to specific design ideas. The first step, prior to design, is to determine the parameters of the project, such as the zoning envelope, existing conditions, budget, etc. After the parameters have been established, we will first paint our vision with broad strokes and refine the design using your feedback. Once the design is determined, we prepare technical drawings for the construction and bidding of the project. We can then help you select a contractor and guide you through the construction process. For more information, please visit Our Process

What does the architect expect you to provide?

Other than access to the house to study the existing conditions, and a signed and sealed survey of the project site, we ask for your feedback through the design process.

What is the architect’s design philosophy?

Our principal, Hayk Ekshian, believes successful residential architecture is largely informed by the users and should enhance their way of living. As such, each residential project is regarded as an opportunity to create a unique set of spatial relationships for each client and site.

What is the architect’s experience/track record with cost estimating?

For new construction projects, we provide cost estimates based on square footage and assembly, as per construction cost data provided by RSMeans. For smaller renovation projects, when cost-estimating may not be feasible because of the scale of work and the uncertainty of existing conditions, we recommend acquiring price information from contractors based on our drawings.

What will the architect show you along the way to explain the project? Will you see models, drawings, or sketches?

Yes, to all of the above! We use a variety of visual techniques to help you fully understand the proposed design.

If the scope of the project changes later in the project, will there be additional fees? How will these fees be justified?

We understand that modifications to the design are a part of the architectural process, and our fee accounts for the kinds of changes that occur early in the design process. If the scope of services changes drastically, we will ask our clients to compensate our time at an hourly rate as stated in our contract.

What services does the architect provide during construction?

We will be with you until the construction is complete. As part of our basic construction administration service, we answer the contractor’s questions, respond to building department inquiries, and review shop drawing and material samples. If you hire us to act as a mediator between you and the contractor, we will document the construction process through weekly site visits, issue field reports and release payments for completed work.

How disruptive will construction be? How long does the architect expect it to take to complete your project?

The length of construction depends on each individual project, and the experience of the contractor. Our construction drawings instruct the contractor to protect and minimize disruption in occupied spaces by sequencing and scheduling work as per our client’s approval. In addition, the client’s agreement with the contractor should stipulate the estimated completion date and payment schedule for each milestone of the project.

Do you have a list of past clients that your firm has worked with?

Of course! If requested, we’ll provide references that match your project.