Once you have zeroed in on the right Architect, the next step is to brief the Architect with your requirements. It is advisable to be well prepared as it will enable the Architect to understand your ideas better.
Here are a few tips on how to be well prepared before the first briefing:
PROJECT BRIEF -
Wish list: To formulate the Project Brief, first get all the decision makers together. Include everyone - husbands, wives or even children with an interest in the building. Write down your complete wish list.
Ideas: You should have some ideas about what you would like in your house. You can visit some finished houses or you can consult professional magazines, catalogs and architecture books to get ideas and to show the Architect what you like and dislike.
Budget: You need to be very clear about your budget and any constraints that may exist.
Future: Also you need to be clear about any future plans. This will enable the Architect to assess your project realistically and design for future expansion.
Priorities: Your initial brief should contain information regarding general priorities e.g. better natural light, more play room, the number and sizes of the rooms, the overall size and theme of the structure, features you would like to have and key functional or special inter-relationships of spaces etc. This will make it easier for the Architect to understand what you have in mind.
Once the actual project begins, go back to your project brief at regular intervals. so as to not lose sight of your original goals (and budget).
THE FIRST MEETING:
Project brief: Have your project brief ready. Explain exactly what it is you want and don't hold back. If you have pictures or photographs of what you like and dislike, bring them as there will be less chance of misunderstandings. Pictures speak more than a 1000 words. It also helps the Architect to figure out whether they are feasible within the budget. No matter how good your project brief is, an experienced professional will pick up the details that you've and so be prepared for detailed questions about your project brief.
Open mind: The first session with the Architect will largely consist of discussion and questions about your requirements and ideas of you house and site and your priorities and preferences. During this session the Architect might present you with suggestions, ideas or solutions that might not sound pleasing to you at first, but might make sense later on in the planning stage. So try to keep an open mind.
Do not try to impose: Try not to impress any specific style or theme according to the latest trends, for your house. These themes are often short lived in property markets and you might have difficulty or not get the best resale value when it comes to the selling of the house. A good style is one that is unique but has longevity and remains contemporary. And a good Architect will not try to enforce his own tastes in design, but instead try to get a good feel of your taste and guide you to a realistic building solution.
Information: Be realistic about everything especially your budget. Find out as much as you can in the consultation phase about possible causes of over runs.
Good communication: is necessary for a smooth project conclusion. If you feel the Architect will not listen to and respond to your concerns, explain what's going on and keep you updated, then it might not be a good idea to engage him for your project.
When negotiating fees with your Architect, you might have a choice to use only a part of his service or a 'full service'. If your budget does not allow the full services of the Architect, he might be willing to provide you with advice and ideas for a reduced fee. The services of an Architect are not rigid and most will be willing to taper services to suit you needs or budget.
However do not try to bargain too much with the Architect, as he might reduce the fees just to get the project, but later show less interest in your project or may not be very co-operative.