There are people who can design their own house, but while we have strong ideas and some very limited abilities with CAD programs we didn't think we fitted into this category so our next step was to find an architect.
We always like recommendations but almost nobody we know has used an architect in recent times and our only interaction was with someone we wouldn't use again, so that avenue was a non starter. Having visited Ostro and talked with Paper Igloo they were an obvious choice for the shortlist, but a shortlist of one didn't really seem like a list.
A quick web search resulted in a lot of links for architects, some near and some far. Time to narrow the criteria a little more.
After a bit of discussion we started to create a list (we know - another list?) of the criteria we wanted in an architect.
- experience with passive or near passive houses
- local to our area
- contemporary design style
- good communicator
- interested in our project
The addition of "contemporary design style" was something we debated for a while but after looking at a lot of architects websites we came to realise that most specialise in a style and hence likely have a comfort zone and expertise tailored to that style of house. We're only doing this once and while we want something that is unique we'd rather not add too many extra levels of complexity. Additionally, being able to narrow this down dramatically reduced the number of architects to look at.
After several evenings looking at websites and planning portals for additional project information, we had a list of around 6 or 7 architects we wanted to speak to. This was a good start but was still too many to be considered a shortlist. One was too few, 7 too many - so how many was the right number?
As our primary source of information was the websites we were visiting, we were amazed at the variation we found. Architecture is a visual medium and so the websites we found with poor or non existant images didn't inspire much confidence and resulted in a couple of possibles being excluded.
Making contact with the firms soon reduced the number further. Several seemed uninterested or negative so we removed them immediately. Soon we had the number reduced to just 3 - the perfect length for a shortlist?
The companies we arranged to meet with face to face were (alphabetically)