A friend's advice:
My friend Michel who is an American architect working for a firm that specializes in institutional buildings (think universities, not jails) had some good advice to give:
- Make sure you have a good relationship with your designer. Trust is an important part of the process and you need to be very open about everything.
- You are well within your right to be demanding of your architect. If anything feels uneasy, ask for more clarification, more sketches, more ideas. After all, you're only going to do this ONCE.
- Pay your designer a fair wage, a dedicated designer will really put in a lot of effort in building a dream home that fits your style and budget. That's typically 10% these days but is negotiable.
- Ensure your designer's interests are aligned with yours. At the end of the day, designers want to earn a good living but they are also motivated by the desire to materialize their client's dreams. To help achieve this, they can help negotiate on your behalf things such as materials and furnishing costs so you can get a good quality home for the right price. To clarify, the approach here is not to drive the cost of house down. The goal is to have more for the same price. Remember that they may want to show case your home as part of their portfolio.
To end this post, we have just started working with Sakamoto-san from the Institute of Space Technology and Architecture. (LINK) He was introduced to us by a prospective builder. Although no formal contract has been established, we have received some preliminary plans based on initial discussions. As we move further along the process of acquiring land I will profile Sakamoto-san and his firm in greater detail as we focus on the Design process.