Maximize Your Relationship
To get the most out of working with an AIA architect, it's important to communicate your needs and preferences. Pre-planning and open communication help your architect create the most appropriate design solutions for your project.

Following are issues to consider that can help you start a productive dialogue.

Money
A building or renovation project involves present and future economic commitments. Once your project is complete, furnishings, day-to-day operations, maintenance and future repairs add to the total cost. Your architect can help you develop a realistic estimate through a life-cycle cost analysis, which calculates expected future operating and maintenance costs. Decide what's affordable, or limit the budget and make this cost limitation part of the architect's written agreement.

Design
Consider what you want both aesthetically and functionally from your project. What is the time frame for occupying the structure? What are the indoor and outdoor space requirements or the likely movements and interactions of those using the building? Answering these questions will not only save time with your architect, but provide insight into uses and operating conditions.

Location
Think about what you need from a site. If you've chosen or are considering specific sites, begin to match your list of needs to what the actual properties offer. Your architect can identify unusual or troublesome site conditions such as soil irregularities, drainage difficulties, or problematic slopes. You and your architect will also make site decisions involving orientation and design, depending on your specific preferences, such as the use of sun for heating.

Lifestyle
For residential design projects, your architect will consider aspects of your lifestyle, like your desire for privacy, plans for family, entertaining needs and interest in gardening. In addition to your immediate requirements, discuss your thoughts or expectations concerning future uses of your home. While concrete answers may be elusive, including them in discussion can enlighten your architect's design.

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