How to choose a good architect

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    Many homeowners need an architect at some point. Whether it’s to create your dream home from scratch, add an extension to your current one or carry out refurbishment, you are likely to need professional services. But how to choose a good architect? How do you find the one that will make the difference between a dream come true and an expensive disappointment?

    In this article, we look at the six essential things you need to bear in mind when searching for the right architect for you. Of course, any architect you consider should be fully qualified and duly registered with the Architects’ Association (Colegio de Arquitectos) in the area your property is located in.

    Looking for a registered architect on the Costa del Sol? Click here and simply add the architect’s name.

    Know you need a good architect

    This might seem an odd essential to start with, but to ensure you find a good architect, it’s vital you are convinced you need one. While it is tempting to use the services of a friend or do-it-yourself to save money, you need to choose a good architect because:

    The right professional is the only person with the knowledge and experience to turn your vision into reality.

    A good architect will save you time and stress, particularly with the paperwork associated with a building project and any design or construction challenges along the way.

    The right professional will bring new ideas to the table and help you to think outside the box if necessary.

    A good architect will ensure that you add investment value to the property, whatever your budget. This added value will ultimately earn you money.

    And lastly, the right professional will create a space, however big or small, that will improve your lifestyle and by extension, your quality of life.

    Fancy building your dream home from scratch? For some inspiration, take a look at plots for sale on the Costa del Sol.

    Create your brief

    Before you even start looking for an architect, you must do your homework. If you spend some time thinking about what you want out of the project, you’ll save yourself valuable time at the first meeting with the architect.

    List your must-haves for the project – for complete builds, carefully consider your lifestyle needs such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, open-plan living and outdoor spaces. For smaller projects, be clear on what you want the end result to achieve, e.g. more space, better functionality, etc.

    Think about your style – list the design styles you like and those you don’t. Do the same for materials and colours.

    Do your Math – consider your finances and work out how much you have to spend on the project.

    Schedule your time – think about how hands-on you want to be in the project and how available you will be to answer questions, make site visits etc.

    Wondering how to choose a good architect in Marbella? Check our list of the best.

    Ask and look around

    Once you have a good idea of what you want, it’s time to begin your search proper. Start by asking for recommendations. Ask friends and family and your real estate agents who they would recommend.

    Research new builds in your area and earmark those with designs you like. Then ask the owner who their architect was.

    Then, when you have a list of recommended professionals, take a long look at their websites to get a feel for their style. Spend time browsing their portfolios – cross off any that you don’t like off the list.

    Find out also if the architect offers additional services such as interior design or landscaping. Working with professionals under the same umbrella can save time and money.

    Need an interior designer in Marbella? We like these.

    Do your first vetting

    Now you’re ready for the first meeting and probably the most important one. Use this to decide whether you like the architect – remember that you may be working together for a long time (new builds typically take at least two years) so it’s vital to get along!

    At the first meeting, pay particular attention to:

    Listening skills – how well did the architect listen to you? Or did they do most of the talking?

    Communication skills – did you understand what the architect was talking about? And if you didn’t, did they take time to explain more clearly so you could understand?

    Adaptability – did they take your brief on board? Or did the architect mostly try to convince you to do things otherwise?

    Availability – did they have time for the meeting?

    Bottom line? What was your gut feeling at the end of the first meeting?

    Understand the process

    Our next essential in how to choose a good architect also has to do with communication. The right professional will ensure that you understand the entire process of their services, from the first draft to key handover.

    Make sure that you have a clear idea of each step and its projected timeline. And ideally, you will have this information from day one of the project.

    It’s also advisable to have comprehensive information on possible challenges and obstacles along the way, e.g. problems with the terrain or hold-ups with paperwork. Plus potential issues with the budget such as overspends or unexpected expense.

    Wondering where would be a good place to build a home on the Costa del Sol? Check out our area guides.

    Understand the fee structure

    Even a minor refurb can cost thousands of euros and all projects represent a significant investment for the homeowner. Most architects charge a percentage of the construction costs as their fee, typically between 8% and 15%.

    Although this investment is, as we explained earlier, more than worthwhile, it’s also a substantial outlay. It’s therefore vital you understand the fee structure, which should be clear and transparent with no hidden extras. Make sure it explains what you’re paying for, how much it costs and when the fees are due.

    Need some advice? Get in touch with our friendly team who have been helping buyers on the Costa del Sol since 1992. We know the market and the right professionals to help your building project get off on the right foot and end on an even better one. We’re just a phone call or an email away!