Your remodeling or addition project will exist in several different realities. There is the reality of the exiting house. There is also the reality that exists in the space between your desires and your budget. The folks at Houzz.com wrote about setting a budget back in April. While the post at Houzz.com is fine, I want to expand on a portion of the article.
Be upfront with your architect about what your budget really is. And have that discussion early on, before you’ve signed a contract if at all possible. The reality is that no matter how creative your architect is balancing out your desires with your budget will be a huge part of the process. Part of what we do is help you get the most from your money, but we have to know how much you want to spend.
Notice that I didn’t say “how much you have to spend”, or “how much you can afford”. A good architect works within the parameters provided, which include how much the client tells them they want to spend on the project. This may mean helping the client realize that their expectations may be set too high. Then the process will inevitably be one of balancing desires against budget. But that’s what makes for a good project and a happy client.
I have worked with clients who have never told me what their budget was. It makes it very difficult to know what their expectations are not to mention if the design is too much or not enough.
I have also worked with clients who have had changes in circumstance after the contract was signed, but they were embarrassed and didn’t tell me. Consequently, I didn’t understand why they were so upset about my cost estimates (which were within the budget that I thought was correct).
The relationship between the residential client and the architect is an oddly intimate one. On the one hand, the architect is a paid service provider. On the other hand, the architect is privy to a lot of personal information and dreams, some of which a client wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing with anybody else.
While the cost of an architect and their experience is important, all things being equal, I recommend that clients hire the architect with whom they feel most comfortable. Which is the architect they feel they can trust sharing information about their finances and their dreams and aspirations for the house and how they want to live.
That is my advice to you: hire the architect to whom you feel the closest connection. Then be upfront and honest with them about your finances as well as your aspirations for the project and your lives. Architects build dreams. But we need all the information to do the best job for you.