Reader Letter: How to Find an Architect?

Kathy's Remodeling BlogToday’s query comes from Michael H. in the Beachwood Canyon area of Los Angeles:

I’d like to enlist an architect to help me with some design work for a remodel, including load calculations (I need to take down some walls).

My end goal is to have plans in hand that I can shop to contractors. I’ve had several preliminary discussions with various contractors about what I want but they can’t get specific about cost or schedule until I get architect-specific about exactly what I want.

I haven’t gotten much feedback from Angie’s List inquiries, nor from Craigslist. And it seems like the fancy architects are all in-house at a design firm (and probably fantastically expensive for what I want).

Do you have any advice for where to look for someone basic and reliable? Or am I searching for an animal that doesn’t exist?

Thanks in advance. — Michael

What advice do you have for Michael? (My advice is posted in the comment section below.)

2 Comments on Reader Letter: How to Find an Architect?

  1. Brent

    What Kathy said, except don’t limit yourself to just asking one contractor. Ask a number of local contractors, whether you have asked them for a bid or not. If several of them cite the same name, then consider that a strong lead.
    Also, don’t limit yourself to asking contractors. Small business and sole proprietor businesses tend to network, so feel free to ask them as well. Small law offices, independent physicians, sole proprietor accountants, etc, might all know someone they could recommend personally.

  2. Kathy Price-Robinson

    Michael, this is a good question. What struck me was the word “probably” when you mentioned to how expensive architects must be. I don’t get that sense. In this down real estate market, I believe there are a lot of decent architects sitting at their desks waiting for the phone to ring.
    My brilliant suggestion is that you decide which of the contractors you interviewed seemed like the best company, and then ask them for an architect referral. See, it’s not just that you want a competent architect. You also want to put together a team of professionals who work together well. If the contractor suggests an architect he has worked well with in the past, that’s a good sign that there is a mutual respect already in place, and likely a system of communication that works for both of them. You may only use each of these people once, but they might have a long working relationship that they want to nurture for the future.
    Also, you should expect to pay several thousand dollars for an architect’s services, and you will probably get some good advice that could not have come from any other source.
    Good luck to you!