your architect good match


How do you find the right architect, an architect who is a good match for you and your project?

Finding the right architect is essential for a successful project.

All registered architects have:

  • years of university education (generally 2 degrees over 6 years)
  • practical industry experience (2 years minimum experience to attain competency in each category of professional service)
  • past exams by the NSW Board of Architects Registration to become registered
  • undertaken 20 hours of mandatory Continuing Professional Education annually to registration and
  • hold Professional Indemnity Insurance


However, not all architects will be the right fit for your personally, nor suit your type residential project.

For a residential renovation or a new home,  find a registered architect with residential experience, a good track record and a personal approach that you feel comfortable with.

An architect who does commercial or industrial or retail work, for example, will not have the experience to deliver a residential project, which is subject to a different set of statutory and regulatory codes relating to residential building and building contracts.

Residential work is rated as the most complex type of work by the Australian Institute of Architects, and often requires more detailed involvement in a project to guide typical residential clients and work with an existing dwelling.

Residential design, local planning, construction, services, regulations and building contracts are specific and specialised fields on knowledge.

So, there are four steps to finding your architect – a good match:

  1. research – where to look
  2. initial suitability
  3. selection criteria – questions to ask
  4. making the final choice



Some resources for finding architects in your local area are:

  • AIA (Australian Institute of Architects): www.findanarchitect.com.au
  • NSW Board of Architects: www.architects.nsw.gov.au
  • NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (heritage advisory listings, if relevant)
  • HOUZZ online photo and listing site with local design practices
  • GOOGLE search “architect northern beaches” or “architect northshore” etc
  • HOUSES magazine – Australia’s leading architectural magazine dedicated to residential work
  • asking friends, relatives and other local professionals for referrals



Before you talk to an architect, consider the following criteria to establish their suitability:

  • have they been recommended by a past client, friend, colleague or building professional?
  • do you like what you see on their website – in terms of their message, information, past projects on their portfolio
  • do they specialise in the type of projects that match yours ie: alteration & additions, heritage conservation areas, sustainability, outdoor living, interiors?
  • do they work in your area?
  • have you seen some of their built work or seen their projects under construction in your area?
  • do they offer any pre-design consultancy services? ie: client information, initial consultation
  • are they registered with the NSW Board of Architects?
  • can you find them on social media, to find out more about them? ie: instagram / facebook / HOUZZ?


3  SELECTION CRITERIA – questions to ask

Gather basic information about any prospective architect at a face to face meeting, so you can cover your bases and compare apples with apples when considering your best fit.

Its surprising how many prospective clients I meet who do not ask me any questions about my practice or experience or myself personally, when I meet them for an initial consultation.

Consider your first meting like a job interview, and ask these questions to see how well your architect communicates with you and provides you with information and guidance on the questions below.


  • how long have you been in practice
  • what is the size of the practice and the level of experience
  • what is your ideal client and ideal project type / size (to see if you are a good fit)
  • what are your similar residential projects (similar in type, location, size and budget)
  • can you show us a portfolio of similar residential projects: ie images, drawings, case studies, site visits?
  • can you provide previous clients references or testimonials
  • have you worked with our council before? what are their requirements?
  • what is your process to guide us through a renovation?
  • what scope of services do you offer?
  • how do you approach building cost management
  • what consultants do you use
  • what builders do you work with?
  • how do you tender?
  • how do you charge your fees and what does your architect & client agreement like?
  • who do we engage your services and get started?



If the architects you have met meet the above criteria and answers the above questions in a way that gives you confidence, then go with your instinct by considering these final simple but revealing questions.

Remember, you will be working with your architect for about two years, so its important to engage someone you like and trust.  You will be dealing with large amounts of money,  and there will be problems along the way to resolve together. So…


  1. how do you feel about them?
  2. who do you like the most?
  3. who will do the best job?
  4. who wants the job the most?


There in lies your answer.


One final piece of advice.

Q: How to find the right architect?

A: Its not by asking about the fees first.


Read on…  

4  Process: Vision, Strategy and Detail: how it all works









Client Advice