About three years ago, we started along this very path that we are journeying along now but with a different architecture firm. Living in rural America, there is only one home architecture firm within a 100 mile radius to choose from and so we chose them. We had a great first meeting and were promised that things would start happening right away. Six months went by without a word and eventually we were notified that they had gotten busy and it would be another six months before they could get back to our project. A year goes by at that point (18 months total since the start) before we receive another email asking if we were still interested. Thoroughly disgusted by their lack of communication thus far, we politely said no thanks and left this dream of ours on the back burner for another year until present day.
Flash forward to present time, my wife's office is moving to a new building and through inquiring at the architecture firm that designed the new building, she got the name of a past management person who was now doing home design projects as a hobby in retirement. He lived of course 100+ miles away but was willing to come down and meet with us on our project. Our first meeting went well and we explained what we were looking for. In essence, we had a layout in mind but needed someone to help us with all the structural design work and who was capable of providing us with a complete set of plans that we could hand out to various people or follow ourselves to build the addition we wanted. Everybody seemed in agreement and following a month of tying up loose ends, the architect was ready to start on our project.
We did lots of communicating back and forth (a huge improvement over the first firm) to firm up what we had in mind for the interior and exterior details and then he proceeded to send us several revisions of the layouts I have shown in previous posts. However, in the second batch of prints, he mentioned that he would have someone else do more detailed renderings of the exterior layouts, I assumed in his included hourly rate we were paying him.
Then the third batch of drawings arrived with another email stating that he wanted to get everything laid out in the interior how we wanted before he handed it over to the exterior rendering fellow in order to save us money, i.e. we would be paying someone else for that work whom we hadn't met previously or even knew. I had made a few prior suggestions for cabinetry in the prior batch and in this communication he said that his software couldn't do that much detail work and that we would have to bring that up with whomever was going to design the interior cabinetry layout.
So at this point, he had only provided us with rough interior layouts using software that I already own and starting with a rough layout I had already created and was evidently planning to pass on or tell us to go elsewhere for the rest of the design work on our own dime. Not one word has been spoken on the structural details which is what I was most interested in to begin with. So I sent him an email saying we needed to take a step back and discuss what the deliverables were on this project and what we had expected would be provided after the first meeting. He agreed to call us to discuss this the following evening.
The call started off tense on his part because I think he thought we were firing him. We explained our concerns and he addressed them appropriately. He explained that while he wasn't able to address structure issues due to his licensing, he would contact the appropriate people and would include that information in our packet. He addressed the cabinetry by explaining that he would have sizes nailed down and locations but at the end of the day, whomever we selected for making/purchasing the cabinetry would identify all the specific details to make it functional to our needs. He said that from his past experiences of designing 30 or so kitchen remodels, he has always been told that he has supplied too much information to the contractors rather than not enough. The outside rendering is being done by a trusted former employee of his that does it as a part time gig and is only about two or three hours of work.
Although we are still going to have to pay two to three other groups to finish this process, the overall budget he quoted was still well within what we were expecting so at the end of the day I'm okay with it. My fears have been calmed somewhat and we are proceeding again with the design process. It's a reminder that when money is flowing only one way, that communication is key to ensure both parties remain happy.