How do I choose an architect to help me build my new home?

If you're planning on building a new home, adding some extensions, or are concerned about a nearby development, it usually pays to seek the advice of an architect.

However, identifying you need an architect and finding a suitable candidate will take a bit of legwork on your behalf. For starters finding an architect is a bit like selecting a suitable plumber, bricklayer or financial planner – you should aim for a shortlist of three as a bare minimum. To secure a candidate short-list, talk to your friends for referrals or contact Archicentre, a national provider of design, advice, assessment and inspection services on 1300 134 513.

Once you have a list of candidates, it’s time to organise some meetings. When choosing an architect, look for someone you feel understands your housing requirements and vision. As part of the initial meeting, ask for examples of the candidate’s past work to ensure it appeals. If an architect doesn't arrive with a portfolio of work, this might be a warning to look elsewhere.

Examining an architect’s qualifications is an essential part of the decision-making process. Make sure the candidates are registered in your state or territory, while you can access the Australian Institute of Architect’s database to find out more about their specific skills and training

An architect’s fees must also be taken into consideration, and whether they’ll charge extra if variations to the blueprint arise during the building process. To avoid unpleasant financial surprises, clarify payment details with the architect.

Be honest with an architect about your budget. In this age of competition, being open about your budget might seem counterintuitive. However, if your vision doesn’t match your budget, the disconnect will delay the building/renovation process, and worse, make the project impracticable. For example, if you have $150,000 to spend on a renovation, there’s no point working on an architectural design that will cost closer to $250,000.

Building a new home or extending your property, is likely to be a significant expense. Therefore, it’s best to start on the right foot and ensure your vision can be achieved by an architect and within your budget.