You’re interested in working with a design professional to build your dream home but don’t know any, so where should you look for an architect?
Firstly, you should be looking for more than one. Architects and architecture offices offer a wide variety of services and have their own unique design approach. Finding a person or a team that you trust and sync with is important because the process will become a big part of your life for the next year or two. All that to say - you don’t have to sign a contract with the first person you meet. Chat with a few architects and tell them about your project, then have them describe their approach to your project. Find someone that resonates; someone that you want to work with.
So where do you find these elusive architects?
This one is obvious. Do a search to find a list of architects in your area and have a quick look at their websites. Do they work on projects similar to yours? Do you like their style of design? If so, add them to your list of potential candidates.
Local Governing Body
Architecture is a highly regulated profession, so your local state or provincial governing body should have a master list of registered architects in the area. This won’t give much information on their specialization or style so you’ll have to do a little more research, but it’s a good place to start. This way you already know everyone you’re approaching is a licensed professional.
Ask your friends, family members and co-workers if they’ve ever worked with an architect or know someone who has. You might be surprised to find a handful of potential collaborators. The most important thing with this approach is getting feedback on their previous experience with that particular architect. Did they enjoy the process? Were they happy with the final result? Would they use them again and recommend them to others?
Architects may do the design, but rarely do they manage the actual construction of the building. Typically, this is the role of the contractor. Contractors can be a little easier to find, and an experienced contractor has worked with dozens of architects in their career. So a good referral from an experienced contractor holds a lot of value if you can find one. This is especially true if you plan on using that same contractor for the construction; if the architect and contractor have already built a strong working relationship, chances are your project is headed in the right direction.
Architects know other architects. They went to school with them and worked with them for years, so they’re fully tapped into the network. If you find one but they aren’t the right person for the job, they probably know someone who is. An architect who has only built hospitals and civic centres may not be interested in taking on your house project (although they might be), but they likely know another architect who specializes exclusively in custom home design. It’s certainly worth asking.
Good luck in your search!