Tips for Working with a Residential Architect | Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson, AIA

Fred Wilson, AIA
Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson

Aug 27, 2019 - 5 min read

Tips for Working with a Residential Architect | Fred Wilson

Over our thirty years in business as residential architects, we’ve learned a few things about what makes certain home projects turn out better than our clients could possibly have imagined - and what makes some clients truly fantastic to work with. Here, our top ten tips on how you can be one of those clients!

Trust us

Nothing makes a house sing more than a client who trusts their architect to lead them down the right path – even if it’s a path they hadn’t quite considered before. Time and again we find clients who are willing to put their faith in us and who value the experience and ideas we bring to their projects are the ones who end up the happiest with their new homes. Sometimes that means taking a risk, and getting out of their comfort zone. Do that, and you’ll find – as so many of our clients do – that the idea they fought the hardest against ends up being the thing they love most.

Push us

Trust works both ways. Yes, we want you to fall in love with our ideas and just go for it. At the same time, we want to know if one of our ideas isn’t quite doing it for you. If you think there must be a better way, challenge us to find it. Architects love to flex our creative muscles and will never regret being pushed to find a better solution.

Feed us

Well, not us, exactly – I’m talking about our contractors and subcontractors.Show up at your job site in the morning once in a while with coffee and donuts, and you’ll be amazed by the amount of good will you’ll generate. Demonstrate you care about the crew working on your house, and they’ll go the extra mile for you every time. Enough said.

Hire an interior designer at the same time

At Morgante Wilson Architects, we know first-hand the benefits that accrue when architects and interior designers work hand-in-hand from the beginning. It’s the reason we launched a dedicated interior design division years ago. When architects and interior designers partner from the outset, elements such as built-in bookcases and recessed window seats can be baked into the process from the ground up, rather than added to finished space as afterthoughts. Come move-in day, those window seats will be cushioned and ready to snuggle into, since your designer will have ordered fabric months before the seats were even built.

Be decisive

If you’re lucky enough to build a custom home, it’s likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So it’s understandable you’ll want to take your time investigating options, researching possibilities, perusing Pinterest, and shopping for ideas - not to mention paint colors, plumbing fixtures, hardware, and appliances. That’s all part of the process, and part of the fun. But take too long to decide what you want – or worse, change your mind every time you go online and find something new that appeals to you - and your project can quickly spiral out of control. Materials will get ordered late, which means subcontractors will have to be rescheduled, which leads to long delays, which causes timelines and budgets to balloon……you can see where this is going. Our advice: let us narrow the choices for you according to what fits best in terms of the aesthetics we’ve aligned on, select the options you love most, and don’t look back. It’s the best way to keep your project moving forward, on time and on budget.

Iron out your differences at home

Successful architects are part psychologist, part money manager, and part marriage counselor. We’re used to helping couples reach consensus, and identify what’s truly important to both of them in terms of lifestyle, space, functionality, and aesthetics. Still, there are some disagreements that are best ironed out at home prior to your weekly design meeting. If you can get on the same page before you show up at our office, meetings will go more smoothly and will be more productive.

Come prepared to meetings

Residential Architects are trained to adhere to process. By following a pre-approved plan, we can ensure successful project completion. So if we ask you to show up at our next meeting with a list of your must-have amenities, or your decision about whether each of your kids should have their own bathroom, make sure you do. That way, we can advance to the next step of the process.

Make a communications plan

Let us know whether morning or evening meetings are best, and whether you prefer to be reached by telephone, email, or text. And then ask us the same questions. Together, we’ll devise a communications plan that works well for everyone, enhances decision making, and has the greatest potential to allow for thoughtful conversation that is unlikely to be hurried, interrupted, or distracting.

Let us design for you

You’ve hired us for our expertise; now let us put that to work for you! We don’t need you to solve your own design dilemmas. That’s our job. But we do need you to tell us what’s not working for you and the ways you’d like to live differently. Give us that critical information, and we will come up with the solutions for you.

Be a team player

A respectful collaboration between architect and client is a surefire way to end up with a house you love and that works perfectly for your unique needs. So show us what you like. Bring us your ideas. And then let us make them even better. By taking a team approach, we can feed off each other to achieve the most successful end result.

For more of our thoughts on residential architecture and interior design, visit our blog. After all, we’ve got thirty years’ experience – and we love to share what we’ve learned!

Morgante WilsonArchitects provides architectural and interior design services in Chicago, Deerfield, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Northbrook, Northfield, Ravinia, Wilmette and Winnetka – along with Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Fred Wilson, AIA

Fred Wilson, AIA

Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson