What makes a good Architect?

12 July, 2021 | Mikala Chapman

What makes a good Architect?

What makes a good architect? 

When you’re considering hiring an architect, you may be worried about whether you’re making a good choice or not. 

We’ve all seen architecture that is considered, smart and beautiful but we’ve also seen poorly designed homes that have problems with their functionality and lack aesthetic charm.

Architects also function in different ways, there is no set format for how Architects run their business. Fees, the types of projects they undertake, what services they offer and even their preferred design style can all differ, for this reason it can be difficult to compare Architects in an apples for apples kind of way.

How do you figure out whether you’re hiring a good architect or a mediocre one? 


A good architect will deliver a design that is relatively within your budget. There is nothing worse than falling in love with a design that you simply cannot afford, never mind the time that has been lost to go back to the drawing board and scale down costs. A good architect should have a sound knowledge on the cost of materials and features in their designs. There is no point putting suspended concrete slabs, or excessive amounts of bespoke joinery through a home if the client cannot afford it.

Where possible a good architect will give you options, option A costs more, option B still a great choice but is more cost effective.

A not-so-great architect will forget that they are the professionals who are there to guide you. An architect needs to take responsibility for designing something that is not realistic to a client’s budget.

The Design

Architects are trained to design a home or building, when doing this they should take on board a range of considerations including.

Your Budget – this is an important one, there is no point designing something that a client cannot afford.

Your Brief – What are non-negotiables and what is on your wish list. How does your home need to function and who will be living there?

Your style/aesthetic – How do you want the home to make you feel? What style do you like? For example, do you like coastal, modern or scandi, or perhaps a blend.

Environmental design – Including sun direction or the value placed on using eco-friendly products and materials.

Council and local laws/Design codes – These can vary greatly from one precinct to another.

Timeline, Buildability and Engineering are also important factors to be considered.

A good Architect will ensure that all these factors are considered and ideally met when designing your home. They will understand the importance of what is practical & realistic for your budget & brief, while still creating a beautifully designed home.

A bad or mediocre architect will not hold value in these aspects, they will not guide you through the process or have creative input. They will just take instruction from you creating what could be a basic box like design with aesthetics being an afterthought.


A good architect will want to learn about you, your family, your interests and how the home will be used, the details matter. They will have ideas you may never have thought of but will remember they are designing the home for you and your family, not for their portfolio. As a client remember to keep an open mind, don’t miss an opportunity to let a professional design something that is unique and bespoke to you. 

An architect should not try to convince you to go ahead with an idea or concept you don’t like, want, or need. While you should always have an open mind about design ideas, the architect should listen if you are clear that you do not like something.

Referrals and Credentials

A good Architect will have no hesitation in supplying referrals, along with a portfolio of past projects. There is almost no better way to get a feel for how an Architect will operate than to speak or hear from past clients.  

You could also ask to speak to builders who have worked with the Architect. Do they feel their documentation is clear and detailed? How did they find the communication and response times throughout the build process?

Is the Architect ‘registered’? Which means they must have completed a university degree, completed on the job experience (min 2yrs) followed by a written exam and interview. There is a difference between an Architect, building designer or draftsman their education is not one in the same and often the level of documentation will differ.

A bad sign

If the Architect you are looking into won’t provide references, does not have a portfolio they are willing to share or is reluctant to share their credentials this could be a sign that they are not the person you should work with.

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