How to Hire an Architect

Architects, like many other licensed professionals, must pass a comprehensive state test and are permitted to practice architecture only in those states where a valid license is held. Only a person possessing a valid state license and current registration may legally use the title “architect” and provide architectural services.

Many architects are members of the American Institute of Architects, a national professional organization. Only those members in good standing may use AIA after their name to denote membership in this organization.

Architecture is such a vast and complex discipline that not all architects have the knowledge or skills required to design a PraiseBuilding. An architect, who has only designed new homes or tenant fit-out projects for office buildings, simply will not have the technical knowledge and hands-on expertise to complete a PraiseBuilding without a substantial learning curve.

When selecting an architect, it is important to interview several experienced in working with congregations and renovating existing structures. You may be able to obtain names and numbers of qualified professionals by contacting your local AIA Chapter. Ask members of other congregations if they might make recommendations. Ask the architect for recommendations and see the work. Learn what the challenges of the design and construction are, as well as the budget.

Did the designer successfully accomplish what the committee wanted? Discuss your project in detail.  Ask how the architect works with committees. Discuss fee schedules, scheduling, and manpower. Who will be working on the project? What experience does that person have with PraiseBuilding design and construction? Does the architect bring specific design criteria to the project? It is important that you discover if there is “chemistry” between the architect and your congregation. During the construction phase of the project, the architect will be speaking on the congregation’s behalf, so it is important that you have a good rapport with the architect.

Architectural Services are divided into five distinct phases:

I. Preliminary Design Phase – Understanding the site and design concepts that client requires.

II. Design Development Phase – Creation of multiple versions of drawings for client approval

III. Contract Document Phase – The production of detailed work drawings and written specifications. 

IV. The Bidding and Contract Phase – Administrating thebidding phase and contract negotiations.

V. Administration – The architect monitors the work for compliance with the contract specifications; Verify progress payments applications, Attends progress meetings.

Before beginning any construction project, focus on the numbers. Know exactly what the congregation can spend including contingencies. Explain to the architect that the total budget for this project including architectural fees is “X”.

Have the architect design the project around the budget. In order to remain within the budget, the architect may need to divide the project into multiple phases that can be completed after additional funds have been raised. This is called “phasing a project” and is a common practice when working around budget constraints.

By Stephen Ferrandi, Director, KLNB Regious Properties

Stephen Ferrandi is the Director of KLNB Religious Properties, a real estate firm serving religious clients in Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He is one of the top experts in land development in the region. Mr. Ferrandi frequently contributes real estate related articles to both print and online publications.