If you’re reading this, chances are good that you’re thinking of hiring an architect to help design your ideal home and make sure it gets built the right way. But what exactly can you expect when you sit down with your architect to talk business?

As a registered professional architect, I’d like to take some time to guide you through the sometimes confusing world of architecture – and make sure that building your dream home doesn’t become a nightmare.

In this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know before you appoint an architect and sign legal documents. Let’s get started.


How To Tell If Your Architect Is On The Level

Building a house is a serious investment – in fact, it may be the most expensive decision you ever make. With so much at stake, it’s essential that you work with a competent, ethical architectural professional.

But how do you know if your architect is legit? Here are some points to keep in mind.


Good Architects Are Professionally Registered.

That means your architect should have a SACAP practice number. If it’s not displayed on their business card or website, you are totally within your rights to ask for it. An architect who can’t produce a practice number may be practicing illegally. If you’d like to know how to check your architect’s SACAP registration, check out our previous post on illegal practitioners.


They Have A Portfolio Of Successful Projects To Show You.

Your architect’s track record should speak for itself. If they can’t show you the work they have done in the past – including plans, 2D and 3D animations, and photographs of the actual buildings, something may be fishy.


Referenced From Satisfied Customers Are Key.

Architects are responsible for making their clients’ dream homes become a reality. If your architect can’t produce good references, it could be that they weren’t able to make those dreams come true. Zero references could definitely be a red flag.


The SLA They Ask You To Sign Is Simple, Easy To Understand And Protects You Both.

Service Level Agreements (or SLAs) are standard in the architectural industry. An SLA is a type of contract that spells out your architect’s services and responsibilities – and if you don’t understand it after you read it, you shouldn’t sign it at all.

A good SLA should be simple, unambiguous and protect both you and your architect. If you have any doubts about your architect’s SLA, you can always show it to your lawyer to ensure that everything is above board.


A Good Architect Provides Regular Feedback

Since your architect is supposed to be supervising the design and construction of your home, you shouldn’t have to chase them for an update.

A good architect maintains regular communication with clients, letting them know about the progress of plans, construction approval and the building process itself. Whether the news is great or not so great, you as a client should be the first to know.

If your new architect isn’t great at following up, you may want to rethink your options.


They Explain The Architecture Process Step-By-Step

There’s a process that every architect follows when they design and build a home. Your architect should explain every step carefully to avoid confusion.

But in case they don’t, I’ll explain it to you right now. Click here to visit our process page – you’ll get all the info you need.


What Can You Do If Your Architect Behaves Unethically?

Architects occupy a position of trust and responsibility – just like doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

If you have the bad luck of dealing with an unethical architect, you could end up with a badly designed and built home – or even a property that has been illegally built without the required permission from the local authorities.

Fortunately, you have plenty of rights as a client;

  • If your architect violates the terms of the SLA that you signed, you can always take legal action.
  • Unethical practices can also be reported to SACAP (The SA Council for the Architectural Profession) for investigation.

To avoid the headaches that an unethical architect can cause, it’s always best to deal with a straight-up professional.

At UpStudio, we are serious about ethical practices – and we’d love you to put us to the test. Contact us today to schedule your first consultation.

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