Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Choosing new architects

Since Architect No. 1 resigned my boyfriend and I have been hunting for a replacement. Based on some internet research I identified a firm that seemed to have the skills and experience we're looking for: someone who has helped to develop small apartment buildings in the RBB's neighborhood in the past (so that they can help us get our variances and permits), who is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the historic character of the project, who is professional and will help move the construction forward with the other collaborators, and all this without costing an absolute arm and leg.

I spent a lot of time looking at architecture firms' websites and found the process enlightening. Some architects seem to pitch their websites to home owners who think that by paying the most they'll get the best. One site actually talked about the principal partner's family's 17th-century summer chateau in France. Thanks but I don't want to be paying for that, and frankly can't fathom how someone who has such a residence is going to be a fiscally-responsible shepherd of our renovation budget. Also immediately ruled out were the young, hip, design-boutiques. The "artiste" role is not one we're looking to fill. Give me someone who knows the ins and outs of getting our specific neighborhood association on our side and I'd pick them any day.

Anyway, we met with our favorite prospective firm 10 days ago and they came back to us with an estimate just before the holiday weekend. Since then I've been checking references and we've been talking about whether to interview at least one more firm before committing. I definitely feel that we jumped in too quickly in the past and, though it hasn't killed us yet, our luck isn't going to hold out indefinitely. But all this dithering is making it hard to get started with the actual construction work. This firm seems far and away to have the most experience on similar buildings in the immediate neighborhood (their office is even around the corner from the RBB), they are strong in preservation and have been very professional to date. The references checked out great too. We're getting ready to jump in with them.

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