Ask the Architect

by Frank Cunha III

How Do I Hire an Architect?

Everyone’s needs are different   To make sure you get the best person for your project, you should request information on qualifications and experience from a few AIA Architects. After reviewing their qualifications, you may want to interview a number of AIA Architects to determine their understanding of your project and your compatibility. Make sure you select someone you can work with (not just the least expensive fee).  During the selection process, you may want to ask some or all of the following questions:

General Information

  1.  How long have you been in business?
  2.  How many persons are employed by your firm?
  3. Do you have a valid Architect’s license for the state you are doing the design work? If so, what is your license number?
  4. How have you kept current in your practice?
  5. Do you intend to use consultants for this project? If so, who do you propose to use? What are their qualifications?
  6. What has been your experience with them?
  7. What percentage of your practice involves the type of structure I intend to build/renovate?
  8. Do you carry insurance? If so, what type(s)? How long have you carried each type and what are the policy limits?


  1. Have you recently designed the type of structure I intend to build / renovate? How many times?
  2.  When and what was your most recent project?
  3.  May I see examples of your previous projects that are similar to my project (sketches, photos, plans)?
  4.  May I have the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the clients for these previous similar projects?
  5.  What was the actual construction cost versus budgeted cost for these projects?


  1. What services did you provide for these clients during the design, bidding, and construction phases?
  2. What services do you propose to provide for my project during each of these phases?
  3. Who will provide these services, you or your employees?

Fees & Schedule

  1. What will the fee schedule be?
  2. How will your fees for my project be determined and what services do the fees cover?
  3. Will you provide probable construction cost estimates for my project?
  4. If consultants (civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, geotechnical, testing and inspection, etc.) are necessary, are their fees included in your basic fee or are they separate services?
  5. What additional costs (e.g., permit and other governmental fees) or services (e.g., time spent obtaining necessary permits and other approvals) do you anticipate for my project?
  6. How do you establish your fees for additional services and reimbursable expenses?
  7. Will there be a charge for redesign if it is necessary to meet the construction budget?
  8. Will there be additional charges for changes required by the building department or other government agency?
  9. How are additional charges computed for design changes requested by me or requested by a contractor?
  10. Can you meet my proposed schedule?

Making the Final Decision

It is wise to check the references that each AIA Architect gives you and ask the following questions:

  1. Did the Architect adhere to required schedules and budgets?
  2. Were you pleased with the Architect’s services and your working relationship with the Architect?
  3. Did the Architect listen to your concerns and attempt to resolve them?
  4. Would you hire the Architect again?
  5. What problems surfaced during the project?
  6. If possible, visit the projects the Architects have used as examples of their services.
  7. In addition, you may call the State Board of Architects or visit their website to verify the license status of any Architect(s) you are considering. Upon written or telephone inquiry, the Board will also inform you of any public complaints, or enforcement or disciplinary action against the Architect.

Example: Building Section – Commercial Project


Example: Architect’s Concept – Residential Floor Plan Sketch


When responding to advertisements or solicitations offering professional Architectural Design Services, disaster victims should verify whether the person offering services has a valid license. Only persons licensed by the State Board of Architects may call themselves architects and provide Architectural Design Services.

During a declared state of emergency, the penalty against an unlicensed person who represents that he or she is an Architect in connection with the offer or performance of architectural services for the repair of damage to a structure caused by a natural disaster is increased and punishable (enforcement and punishments varies by state).

Important Links:

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post.  We sincerely appreciate all your comments.

If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!


Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

P.O. Box 335, Hamburg, NJ 07419
e-mail: fcunha@fc3arch.com
mobile: 201.681.3551
direct: 973.970.3551
fax: 973.718.4641
web: http://fc3arch.com
Licensed in NJ, NY, PA, DE, CT.


  1. Steve says:


    This is a nice post and you provide some good information to the general public on how to hire an architect. The general public that has not used architectural services before will hopefully also read into this the reason WHY they should hire an architect. The only thing that I have issue with is stating that it should be and AIA architect. I have no issues with AIA architects because at one time I used those initials behind my name and the AIA has been a great help to the profession. Due to the economy and the need to evaluate our funds many architects like myself chose to suspend paying their dues. We are still good architects and still provide a great service, even without the initials. Paying dues to the AIA does not make one architect better than the other.

    Just my opinion, thanks for the post.


    • fc3arch says:

      Hi Steve,
      Thank you – A great topic for another blog post – would you care to contribute?
      Thanks for stopping by to read and comment on my blog ~ ILMA!
      Warmest regards,


      • Steve says:


        I would be glad to contribute to one of your blog posts. I currently have a blog of my own that I have been trying to post on. It is a hard start but I am moving forward. As you probably know it does not happen over night. Your site is very informative and I hope to get to this level as I move forward. If you would like to take a look it is http://www.dartdesigninc.com/blog
        Thanks and have a great day.


    • fc3arch says:

      Looks promising so far. Best wishes with it!
      2013 may be our year!


  2. […] What Should I look For When Hiring An Architect? Answered by @FrankCunhaIII […]


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