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When looking to construct your business, or commercial space, picking an architect is one of the most important choices. 

A good architect will help with a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff too:

  • Finding the right builders for the job.
  • Knowing the best materials (including ones you might not have thought of or know about).
  • Helping you decide on things you aren’t sure about, or solving design problems you might have.
  • Guiding you through things like regulations, laws, and contracts.

Choosing the right architect is a fine balance, you will want enough experience to do the job well, but no so much that it is out of your price range. A good architect will be able to stretch your budget but not hurt the quality of the construction. Making the right choice for an architect also involves making sure you are organized with a clear vision. 

There is a lot that goes into deciding on the right person to design your building. We can’t mention every single thing you should think about here, but we can certainly give you guidelines on how to make the best choice possible.

 

Organize Your Own Ideas

Establish a Budget

First things first. How much money do you have to spend on this project? This will almost certainly be your biggest limiting factor in choosing someone to design your building. 

Make sure that you have a total budget for the whole project, it should look a bit like this:

1. Materials Expenses

+

2. Workers Pay (construction workers, architects, contractors, everyone) 

+

3. Transportation Expenses for Materials

+

4. Emergency Expenses (inclement weather, delays, unplanned events/accidents, unplanned materials requirements)

=

5. Total Budget for the Construction Project

Why is this relevant? Surely only the contract and work costs for the architect is important here? Nope, the reason you need all this info is that the architect will be working with your budget for design and construction of the building. If he/she and you have a big disagreement about budgeting, it will be just about impossible to find common ground on the commercial space you want designed.

Look here for some good office software templates for construction projects. Besides that, there are plenty of commercial contractors and websites that will be happy to help you budget your project. Just do a quick search for “construction project budgeting” on your favorite search engine. 

If you are in or around Texas, check our website, Reliable Commercial. Send us a message if you’d like any help budgeting, designing, or building your commercial building. We have over 35 years of experience doing commercial contracting in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. 

 

Establish a Timescale

This is another hard, limiting factor when it comes to choosing an architect. You need to have an idea of what period of time your building will take to complete. This is important for quite a few reasons, namely being the effect on cost of construction. 

Another reason a timescale is important is that it will affect how hands on the architect is with the work. If it takes a very short time to build, and the designer has many other projects, she/he won’t be able to be on-site for a high percentage of the build time. If it takes a much longer time, with the building spread out according to the architect’s availability, he/she can spend more time dedicated to your project during building. How often a designer is on-site might not be important to you. However, it can affect the fidelity of the construction; i.e. how true the building is to the design you and your architect have decided upon.

Another reason that a specific time scale is worth defining is that a commercial space is generally designed to make money. The sooner it’s finished, the sooner you can start generating revenue from it. 

 

Be Able To Specifically Communicate What You Want

In order to clearly convey your ideas to your designer, you will need to figure out what exactly you want.

 

Make a Mood Board

A mood board is a collection of pictures, like a collage, with images, colors, and text. The reason you will do this is to have a visual way to convey what kind of tone your building will have to your architect. Do you want a lot of peaceful earth tones and soft curves? Would you prefer 1930s-era brutalism? Maybe you want a mix of incongruous architectural styles…your mood board is the place to visually express how you want your building to look and feel.

There are plenty of spaces to find mood board templates if you’d like to make one electronically. Otherwise, it’s as easy as making a collage the old-fashioned way, with tape, glue, scissors, and pictures.

 

Write a Brief About the Building’s Function

What will your new commercial space be used for? A grocery store, a storage space, and an office building will probably want to convey significantly different tones. 

Include:

  1. About how many people will use this space every day?
  2. What will its main use be? Secondary use? Other uses?
  3. What future needs might arise?
  4. Can the building be remodeled/renovated to serve a different purpose?

Write down any other important info about the space’s function that you think an architect would like to know. 

 

Arrange Interviews and Meet Face-to-Face

Once you think you’ve found the right designer/architectural firm, it’s time to meet up. 

  • Make sure to bring as much information as possible. You want the architect to have a crystal clear idea about what you want.
  • See what kind of agreement you and the designer can come to. Make sure you roughly agree on the main issues:
      • Budget
      • Timeline
      • Function
      • Tone

 

Questions to ask/information to get from a potential designer:

  • What kind of buildings have you designed in the past?
  • How much experience do you have?
  • What have past clients said?
  • How have your buildings aged?
  • How well can you follow an agreed-upon budget/timeline?

 

Make Your Choice

After meeting a few different designers, it’s time to choose. Look for someone who agrees with your vision, and meets your requirements for budget, time, and experience.