choosing the right architect


Selecting the right architect for you and your project will be one of the most significant decisions you will make. My recommendation would be to carefully consider the following:

residential experience

You may be surprised, but many architects do not do any (or very few) residential projects. One of the first things you should do is determine how much experience an architect has with projects similar to yours.

design ability

Look at photographs and design drawings of their projects. (Architects should have a web site and / or a portfolio with examples of their work.) Do you admire their designs – the overall appearance, the ‘feel’ of spaces, the layouts, the attention to detail?

Do their renovation projects compliment the original structure (ideally no / little differentiation between old & new), or do they in fact ‘look like additions’?

design influences

Not all architects approach a project in the same way. Ask the architect what they see as important considerations in designing your project. Do they talk about your site, the sun orientation, views, zoning bylaws, your needs, lifestyle, and budget. An architect overlooking any of these may not be looking at ‘the big picture’.

Steer clear of anyone suggesting that a visit(s) to your site is unnecessary.


It is very important that you can easily communicate. Look for clues in your conversations to assess whether the architect is actually listening & responding to your situation & ideas. Do they seem to understand what you are looking for? Are they asking about what is important to you?

technical competence

Ask to see examples of their construction drawings - the technical drawings that indicate to a builder specifically what is to be constructed, and how it is to be done. Look at them closely; do they appear to be clear, neat, concise, and detailed? Unclear or vague isn’t good.


It is essential that you feel comfortable with an individual and have a good rapport. Will you be able to work well together? Is the ‘chemistry’ right? Have they won your personal confidence?


Ask for reference letters and / or names from past clients. Were the clients happy with their resulting design of their project, the whole ‘process’, and services provided?

Although it may take some time and be a little challenging to find the right architect, it’s well worth the work - you will be living with the architect’s input and recommendations for quite some time.


Internet website link:

Ontario Association of Architects -