Jane Decker, my co-host of ArchiTalk Radio (www.ArchiTalkRadio.com) recently sent this questionnaire for feedback about new residential clients. It is a great tool to help anyone getting started on a residential renovation or new project to be aware of and consider:
INSTRUCTIONS: Please read these questions in their entirety before answering. Then, consult with your spouse, significant other, child(ren), favorite pet or whomever to answer this very detailed survey. You’re about to embark on an exciting journey. You’re going to hire an architect. Only Popes used to hire architects, so consider yourself part of the elite. Let’s enjoy the journey together.
- Have you ever worked with an architect before? While this might be a silly question, I’d like to know if you’ve done an addition or a renovation or even a commercial tenant improvement as part of your business. It helps me gauge what our relationship will be. We not only protect the health, safety and welfare of our clients, but we are also educators, guidance counselors and more.
- Please provide the full address and folio number of the property. Also, let me know if there’s anything eccentric about the property that you’re already privy to. Like, I don’t know, an underground river or a nest of endangered owls in a tree slated to be removed. Tell me everything.
- Do you currently have a survey of the property? Typically, contained in your title documents upon purchase. If not, a survey will be needed to obtain a building permit. I prefer to receive this in electronic CAD format.
- What municipality do you live in? And what do you know about their current codes, ordinances, etc. This might be a loaded question. While I have worked in many communities in South Florida, I don’t know all of them (yet) so anything you know on that end would be helpful.
- Do you plan to submit document for a building permit? I am a licensed architect, trained at the collegiate level for 5 years, interned for 3, and completed 9 licensing exams and have been in the business for 14 years. It is my duty and responsibility to act ethically. If you are asking me to do work for you, I will be signing and sealing documents attesting to integrity of the project.
- What is the full scope of work of the project? Please include all items on a potential wish list – whether feasible or affordable at this time. If I know where you’re headed or where you would like to end up, I can be of better service.
- Depending on your scope of work, we may need additional consultants. I’m good but I still need help along the way. These include structural engineers, MEP (Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing) engineers, Civil engineers, landscaping consultants, lighting designers, soils engineers, and more. It all depends on the project, who we need and for what. I can provide recommendations, or not. I can oversee the consultants, or not. It’s entirely up to you.
- Tell me about your personality and your lifestyle. Is the project intended to create a warm and comfy home hospitable to entertaining? Are you more of a hermit and enjoy your privacy? Do you have a brood of 5 who needs their space, play space and sanctuary space for mommy and daddy? Do you like green space or do you have a black thumb? Talk to me.
- Do you have a general contractor? IF not, would you like recommendations? Your distant uncle twice removed might be a gc but I’m sure I haven’t worked with him. Building relationships with contractors is an important role for an architect. We build trust with these individuals to carry out our vision and your project.
- Do you have an interior designer? IF not, would you like recommendations? I am adept at creating and maximizing space. I am not privy to your unique individual styles. As such, I also have many favorites across myriad of flavors. You might like New England Colonial or Post-Modern Brutalism. ID Teams can often translate that vision better than I.
- What is your budget? I understand that this number is likely to change but I need to know what a reasonable expectation should be. I do not control construction costs, permits, schedules, etc. but I can control, somewhat, what I put down on paper. Thus, it’s important for me to know if you’re in the market for a Camry? Or a Lamborghini?
- On that same note, what is your expectation of what an architect provides and what their fees will be? As I have described, I am a licensed professional. We all have perceptions of doctors and lawyers and even service providers like your trainer or mechanic. So, what is it that you envision I will be accomplishing for you and what is your expectation of compensation for such a service?
- If required, would you be able to provide a letter of credit from your banking institution? So often, the Camry client starts out as a Lamborghini client and I’ve paid my dues.
- What is a realistic timeline? Please note that Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is not reality. Homes cannot be designed, drawn, permitted, and built in 7 days. It takes a lot of planning and effort and plenty of different people to contribute to the final product. Only God can accomplish something like this in 7 days. Are you expecting a baby? Or are you moving from another locale? It’s all relevant.
- We will be signing a contract if we continue with work. It might be lengthy. I recommend a legal consultant to protect you as well as me. I hate starting out on a bad foot but the contract is built on years of experience (bad and good). Don’t be dismayed by it. It’s a tool to move forward, that is all. Once we agree on the contract, issues may arise before, during or after the work. First and foremost, it’s important to keep our dialogue open. I want to do a great job for you and get you into your project (and me paid) sooner rather than later. So, talk to me. Let me know what you’re thinking along the way and we can course-correct as needed. I haven’t mastered mind-reading yet despite being married more than 10 years. Help a gal out.
- How did you hear about us? So, I can say thank you to my friends. More than 90% of most architectural firms rely on repeat business. So, thank you for seeking me out.
- Is it ok for me to include your name, project description and other project data on my website and in brochures, potentially on the radio, and the like? If not, I will respect not revealing your name, address or distinctive details about the project however, your project consists of my ideas and as of right, and I am allowed to use these in my portfolio.
- I may have a sense of humor but don’t let yourself believe that I will not take your project seriously. I enjoy what I do and lucky for me, I generally get paid to do what I love. Is there anything else I should know about you, your family, you living habits, or eccentricities that I should know about? I can handle it, whatever it is.
- A quick little bio about me: I am married, a mom, a radio-host, grad student and all around go-getter. I have fun no matter what because I know it’s quite possible that there won’t be a tomorrow. I study hard and I enjoy creating spaces. I watched my parents build their first house when I was a little girl and have had a passion to do the same ever since. No question here. Just want you to know about me.
- So far so good, shall we move to a proposal? Retainer? And concept?
Ready to get started on your project? Contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture (786) 556.3118
Looks like a useful tool. let us know how it is received.
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this idea of interviewing a client has been in my head for years but i thought a couple of time that i was going too far with people .it is incredible the amount of information and details you need before putting the first screw ,from my point of view as a contractor .jane ,you did awesome !!! the only problem with this is that a small percentage understand and appreciate the connection you are trying to create .i’m glad i’m not the only one in this boat .please help us in educating our customers .HOUSE IN 7 DAYS ?? come on dude ,give me a break and keep it real .THANK YOU ,JANE ,THANK YOU SEBASTIAN !!!
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