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Working with an AIA Architect:
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need an architect for my project?

6. Don't architects add substantial cost to a project?

If you haven't worked with an architect before, you may wonder

While it's true that architects' fees are an additional project cost,

whether your project really requires it. Particularly if your project

hiring an architect can actually save you money in many ways.

is your personal residence, it may not seem necessary. No one

Architects can monitor your budget and negotiate to get the

can tell you definitively whether you require the services of an

best materials and workmanship at a good price. An architect's

architect, but we encourage you to explore this site to learn more

design can reduce energy and maintenance costs. They can turn

about what architects do, and watch the video case studies to

a difficult lot into a successful building site. And they spend time

see how architects affect their clients' satisfaction with the final

planning and fully developing your ideas to avoid changes once

building project.

construction is underway.

2. What services do architects provide?

7. How are architects compensated?

Architects see the big picture when it comes to your project.

An architect's compensation can be based on time, a stipulated

They help you explore what appeals to you aesthetically and

sum, a percentage of the cost of the work, the project's square

what you require functionally. They coordinate teams of design,

footage, unit cost (based on the number of rooms/apartments,

engineering, and construction professionals; they sort through

etc.), or royalty in which compensation is a share of the profit

the maze of building codes and zoning requirements; they ensure

derived from the project. Time-based compensation and stipu-

your project is built the way it was intended. For a detailed list

lated sums are most common.

of services architects provide, download You and Your Architect
(1.79MB, PDF) from
3. Why should I hire an AIA architect?

8. What's my role in the design process?
Your architect will depend on you to communicate about your
design preferences, functional requirements, and budget. Your

Members of the American Institute of Architects adhere to the

timely response to questions and design submissions will help

AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, assuring you of

keep the project on track. It is also important for you to raise

their dedication to the high standards of professional practice.

any concerns you have as the project proceeds, so they can

AIA architects also fulfill annual continuing education require-

be addressed in the earliest stages. Working in partnership with

ments to maintain their professional standing and to stay current

your architect, you will help ensure the best possible outcome

in the profession.

for your project.

4. At what point in my project should I involve an architect?

Architect Finder at

As soon as you decide you want to build something new, you

AIA's Architect Finder puts you in contact with some of the

should start looking for an architect. Architects provide impor-

world's most talented architects. At your fingertips, you will

tant pre-design services including site evaluation and can help

have access to over 20,000 architecture firms. Please visit

you explore options you may not have considered. Involving an today.

architect early in the process can help avoid costly missteps,
and increase the likelihood of your satisfaction with the project.
5. How do I find the right architect for my project?
It is critical to find an architect who makes you feel comfortable,
and with whom you have open communication. It's also important to find an architect with experience in your project type. This
site provides helpful information on how to select an AIA architect
(50KB, PDF). For a list of local architects who specialize in your
project type, visit the AIA's Architect Finder.

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