Stacy and I had our first meeting with our architect this morning. The goal this time was to give him as much information as we could about the direction we wanted to go so that he didn't have to waste any time (at $60/hour) chasing rabbit trails. It was an exhausting three hours, but I think we're off to a good start.
We're using an architect that was recommended by our builder. We toured one of the homes he designed for our builder & liked what we saw. The owners of that home also gave him two thumbs up. He's an older guy (his grandkids attend the same school as our kids), which hopefully means he's got plenty of experience from which to pull good ideas for us. During our first meeting, we found him very easy to talk with, which is very important if we expect him to design our dream home.
For ten years, we've been collecting magazine clippings and photographs of house plans and detail features that we think would be cool to have in our dream house. We compiled those into a series of PDF's, broken down into major categories like "kitchen," "outside," "master suite," etc, along with a short caption describing what we liked about each image. When we first started choosing a builder this summer, we also put together a four-page wishlist (single spaced, one item per line) of things we wanted to include in each room or area. We brought both sets of documents with us to the architect on a CD, and he said that this probably saved us two meetings. It's good to be organized.
The bulk of this first meeting was just getting to know each other and what we expected from the relationship. We went through the wishlist line by line, discussing each item. The time flew by, and I was surprised to find that we spent three hours there.
He then outlined his fee structure. The general design phase and any changes are billed hourly. Once we agree on the exact floor plan, he will draft the final plans, priced per square foot. He'll take care of getting the plans approved by the city & neighborhood. It's pretty straightforward.
We had spent some time drawing up our own plans before we broke down and hired an architect, so I made sure I voiced not only the features that we really wanted, but also the features that we were unsure about or that gave us the most trouble in our own design (like the stairway). Time will tell how well he resolves those issues.
We'll keep everyone updated as the project progresses. If you've got any questions or comments along the way, please leave them in the comments section below.