June 06, 2023   5:54am

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Having completed several major renovations (while observing friends as they suffer through their own), I qualify as an educated consumer when picking an architect. Here are some tips picked up along the way …xxxxxx



  • Don’t pick the hottest young architect around, the one that’s been written up in every magazine you pick up. That talent may be great but probably also inflexible — going after his vision rather than yours. (After all, he’s got his reputation to build.). There’s also a learning curve no matter how great the aesthetics, and this education is on your dime. Ouch! Do yourself a favor and work with a very experienced grown-up.
  • Don’t always pick the architect or contractor your friends swear by. What works for them might not work for you. Find out what your friends liked about working with that architect/contractor and what they didn’t. And, most critically important, find out how they worked together as a team. It might not be the way you’re comfortable with working.


  • Recognize the price you were quoted is a best-case-scenario. A partner of an architectural firm once said to me: “There’s never been a job where there weren’t surprises,” and she wasn’t making excuses on my job because she wasn’t my architect.
  • If possible, do work with architects and contractors who have worked together before and who respect one another. That encourages the communication that needs to take place and minimizes finger pointing.
  • Process. Process. Process. Find out how your project will be managed. It makes a big difference in terms of how much over time and over budget it will be. (And it will be.)
  • Mentally prepare yourself now for that critical moment when the plumbers/electricians/contractors/whoever’s need to be there, and the “truck breaks down”. It’s the excuse you’ll hear more than once, and there isn’t a d@#n thing you can do about it. Don’t make yourself crazy when it happens.
  • Be sure your roomie relationship is stable enough to take the stress. It’s amazing how many break-ups happen around “dream” home projects. If there are differences between you (hello?), now is when they’ll surface in spades.

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