top view of construction site

Questions You Should Ask Your Architect, Builder, or Designer

Building a new home or remodeling an existing one is an exciting process. However, understanding how the process works is key when it comes to erecting new build or refurbishing an existing one. A major part of the process is understanding how your architect and builder will work with you to ensure your desired end result. As you get started, you should know a few things first.


It may seem like a simple task, asking about qualifications, but many people don’t. At least, not until it’s too late. Understand exactly what type of firm you are working with, and make sure they are licensed within the specific areas that you need. There are key differences between an architect and a designer. Both are fine to use, but architects generally work with larger and more complex structures or challenging topography. Typically, an architect will have an additional license. Most luxury home builders will have either an architect or a designer on staff, or at least have a solid relationship with an outside firm with completed past projects. Ask your builder about which roles are in-house versus outside firms. Also, make certain that all appropriate insurance is up-to-date.

Understand Your Design

It’s your home and you should understand the complexities of the design, or at least the specifics. Certain builds may require additional engineering work. Thus, ask your builder about having a structural engineer inspection. Many states, like California and Hawaii, have specific codes due to the environment — whether the building is existing or a new build. They may also require a PE, SE, or RCE stamp of approval.

home under construction

Get a Timeline

Before your start the building process, it’s a good idea to get a detailed timeline. When building a home or working on a large remodeling project, you will need to know exactly when certain things are expected. You should receive a timeline that outlines the main points — like knowing when the electrical and plumbing will be installed. Not only will this give you clues as to how your project is going, but you will also know when to expect your project to be complete.

Point of Contact

Constructing a luxury home should come with a project manager. Understand who they are, and get to know them. He or she will be your eyes and ears throughout the entire project. This is especially important if you are building remotely. It’s also a good idea to get all contact numbers upfront.

Change of Plans

Talk to your builder or designer about what to do if you have a change of heart. It’s common for homeowners to change their minds once they see something partially built. If a room is too small or you want to add an additional window, you should know the proper channels to communicate changes.

The Finished Product

Understand the final approval process. You should receive a final walk-through inspection. You should also have some type of warranty. Before you sign any paperwork, know what types of warranties come with your home and the legal paperwork that will accompany it.

Get Comfortable

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to hire firms that you feel comfortable with and respect. Make sure you have references and ask to see previous work. It’s common for individuals to tour previous projects or speak with past clients. If your firm cannot produce referrals, rethink your choice. After all, it’s your project, and you need to be comfortable with every aspect.

jeff and cheryl in hawaii

If you enjoyed this blog you may want to read our blog about, “Working with Your Architect: What to Expect.”

Smith Brothers is a unique team of construction craftsmen, architects, and interior designers. Since 1978, we stress the absolute highest levels of quality, performance, value and service in each and every project. Our award-winning design ideas, expertise, and collective experience allow us to provide the very best in what we do. For more information please contact us at 877-230-0333, (+01) 858-350-1445, or


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