How to Find the Perfect Architect for your Log Home
So, you can envisage your log home. You know exactly where you want to build it.
You have found a few floorplans, and some log cabins that you like the look of, but none of them quite suit your needs.
This is when you need an Architect.
But how do you make sure you choose the right architect to bring your dream to life?
Choosing the right architect can make or break your log cabin build.
Unfortunately, some independent architects don’t have much experience in building log homes, so it is very important that you choose an architect who is experienced. Luckily, there are plenty out there – you just need to know where to look, and how to find out if they are reputable.
Finding an architect who specializes in log home buildings is vital. They should be familiar with the building process of log homes, and ideally should be a member of a Log Building Association.
Before you find an architect, it is important to have given a lot of thought to the planning and designing process so you know the right questions to ask, and are clear what your vision is. We have a whole series of articles on planning your log cabin build so that is a good place to start off!
How to Find an Architect
Word of mouth is probably one of the most common ways of finding an architect. Have any of your friends or family built a log cabin, who did they use, were they good?!
Are there any local log cabins in your area which your admire? Ask them which architect they used.
Do you already have a contractor organised – ask them who they recommend, is there anyone they normally work with?
If you haven’t had any personal recommendations, the second best thing you can do is an online search for architects in your area. There are plenty of places to search, including the American Institute of Architects.
When you are creating your list of suitable architects, think about what you want.
Most architects have online bio’s which will include information about their previous work; you will most likely be able to draw information about the type of architect they are too.
Do you have a solid idea of what you want? You’ll need an architect who has a great eye of details. Or, do you want to stick to your budget? You’ll need an architect who is good at managing costs.
Steve May from D.A.R.T Design recommends:
When looking for an architect for your particular project you want to look for someone who has experience with projects of the same scope, and possibly an architect that has the same vision or style of building that you desire.
You will also need to check the architect’s credentials.
In the UK all architects must be registered with the Architects Registration Board by law, which imposes basic standards on them.
Each country will have its own database of registered architects, and although some, such as America, don’t require architects to be members, ensuring that they are will mean they have to comply with rigorous requirements and will have high standards.
Make sure you check with the respective countries accrediting agency.
Top Tip: Be careful of titles – architecture consultants, architectural designers and technicians are not architects!
Once you have gathered a list of architects, start conducting phone interviews.
The purpose of the phone interview is to establish that they are available and able to carry out the work.
You should describe your log cabin project, and ask them whether they are able to carry it out in the timeframe you have in mind. If they are able to, request information about their experience.
Once you have shortlisted around three of your favourite and most suitable architects, you should call them to arrange a meeting to discuss your needs either at their office or even better, at your site!
There generally isn’t a charge for an initial consultation, if there is – it should only be a small fee.
What exactly should you be asking at the initial consultation?
It is important that you explain what the most significant things about your project are to give the architect a thorough understanding about what you want to achieve.
This interview will give you the opportunity to meet the architect face-to face, and you should be able to establish whether they are appropriate to work with.
Here is a list of things that you should cover in the interview:
Ask to see some of their completed work. Does it appeal to you? It is vital that they have experience of designing log cabins – make sure that the portfolios you see are of log homes.
Do they share the same enthusiasm that you have for your log cabin? It is so important that they listen to your ideas and try to enhance them rather than push their own ideas onto you and take over!
Ask the architect what they consider the most difficult part of your project and how they will approach these things.
Do you agree with their approach? Does the approach suit you, your project and your budget?
Lots of prospective home builders want to see what their final build will look like before they start construction.
Having 2D and 3D sketched elevations is all very well but it might not give you a solid idea of what your finished product will look like.
Can your architect produce a 3-D model of your home before you start building?
This will depend on a huge range of factors such as location, size and complexity.
Usually, fees are based on a percentage of the construction costs and vary from 3-15% depending on how complex the build is.
It is also possible to request a fixed fee, or fee for service (by the hour).
You need to make sure that their fees are within your budget. And what exactly their fees include. Ask for a full breakdown of all the services they offer.
Do they see any problems with your proposal?
By asking this question, you will get a good idea of how realistic your proposal is, and you may get the chance to make changes before the design phase commences.
Alternatively, you will be made aware of how the architect will approach the problem and whether it can be easily solved.
Architects are very knowledgeable about the costs involved in building your log cabin – talk through your budget with them to make sure you have not missed anything off, and to ensure your budget is realistic.
After the interview, you should have a good idea of who you want to hire- the final step is to carry out thorough reference checks.
Who better to help you find out whether or not the architect is right for you, than to ask previous clients about their experiences?
You should prepare a list of questions before you contact them, you can even use the same questions you asked about your proposed build to establish whether they were satisfied with their build and whether it was completed on time.
Ideally you will want to know how professional they were, what they were like to contact and work with, how quickly they were able to resolve problems, and whether they had any issues with the architect.
Check with the contractors whether the documents that the Architect prepared were comprehensive and sufficient enough to complete the build. Did the documents allow the for accurate cost estimates?
How quickly did the architect respond to issues that arose throughout the construction period, and were the addressed thoroughly?
At this stage, you should have enough information to be able to decide which architect is right for your project.
The right Architect will be the one that shares your vision, can meet your needs and budget, and has demonstrated that they have plenty of technical expertise in log cabin design and building.
Finding the right architect to work alongside you in your proposed build may not be easy, but it is definitely worth putting the time in during this stage to make sure you achieve your dream log cabin.
For me, the most important process in finding the right architect is the face to face interview.
This phase gives you a chance to get a really good feel for the architect and their values, and whether they are suited to your build.
What do you think is most important when looking for the right architect?