When you want to hire an architect, it’s standard to meet the prospective candidate face-to-face. However, during the current COVID-19 reality, meeting someone in-person presents a challenge.
Maybe you’re open to reading reviews, doing a phone interview, and hiring an architect, but it’s the rest of the process where things get dicey.
Typically, there’s a lot of meetings, contracts, site visits, and planning that happens in-person. Is it really possible to do all of these things remotely? Thanks to technology and the industry’s quick moves to adapt, it’s absolutely possible to work with an architect remotely.
However, there are some tips you’ll want to keep in mind throughout the process.
Tip #1: Utilize Free Resources
Without a site visit, it can be a challenge to get things moving. While some architects might tell you that pictures and measurements of the site are enough, there are some extra steps you should take.
Encourage your architect to use GoogleMaps to get an accurate view of the lot, property, and neighborhood. This interactive tool provides a much more in-depth look than pictures could deliver. Then, be sure to address any concerns you have with them about the site.
Additionally, it’s possible to schedule different visit times. Allow the architect to visit the site at a time when no one else will be there. This ensures that you’re following social distancing safety steps, while still allowing everyone access to the site.
Tip #2: Use Video Conferencing
You aren’t limited to phone calls while working with your architect. Be sure to use platforms like Zoom, GoogleDuo, or Skype to replicate an in-person conversation. Plan video calls for anytime you would ordinarily meet in person.
Then, encourage video calls throughout the entire process. For instance, make sure that the contractors and investors know that they can simply FaceTime on their phones if they want to visit the site with the architect.
Video calls can be especially helpful when you’re choosing small details. While many of the mockups and specifications are done in bulk, sometimes you need to home in on a specific material or product. For instance, if you’re trying to settle on a flooring material, or going back and forth on a particular roofing material, you can always jump on a video call and visually compare the elements with your architect.
Tip #3: Use Electronic File Sharing
Another significant part of working with an architect is viewing the designs and passing and signing documents. While historically, these things are done in person, thanks to secure file-sharing programs, electronic design software solutions, and electronic e-signature platforms, you can do all of this via the web.
Your architect should be able to do anything digitally that they can do in person. From communication, planning, designing, and more, it can all be done digitally. Don’t be afraid to insist on reworks or re-sketches, and don’t settle for snail mail versions of sketches and documents. There’s too much technology out there to settle for slow communication and file sharing.
Tip #4: Ask A Lot of Questions
This tip is crucial. You should ask all the same questions you would ask ordinarily. Ask about the framing they’re using. Get more information about material choices. If you want to know about the benefits of structural insulated panels compared to metal framing, ask about it.
If energy-efficiency is a top priority, make sure your architect knows that. Get more details about the plans for efficiency, including the HVAC zoning schema and the insulation techniques they utilize, and more.
Asking questions is par for the course. Even if you’re not face-to-face, you’re still entitled to get your questions answered and your issues resolved.
If you have questions at any point in the process, call, video chat, text, or send an email. In many ways, the fact that an in-person meeting isn’t required allows you to be even more communicative with your architect than you were before.
Tip #5: Trust the Process
The real key to working remotely with an architect during COVID-19 is to trust the process. Make sure you trust your architect because that will make the entire process much smoother. Beyond that, recognize that the whole world is rapidly changing and having to adjust. There might be a few minor hiccups along the way, but a little patience and ingenuity can turn any issue into an opportunity to think outside the box.
There’s no reason for you not to move forward with your plans. You just have to be willing to be flexible and adapt. The benefit of everything being digital is that the entire process will likely take less time than it traditionally does.
If you follow these five tips, there’s no reason you can’t have a successful project and impeccable end result.
Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.