Tips for Hiring & Working with Residential Architects

Tips for Working with an Architect When Designing Your Home

Successfully building the home of your dreams requires working with an experienced, knowledgeable architect. The architect will help you plan, design, and organize the construction of your house. Completing your project within budget and on time depends on your architect's guidance and coordination.

Why You Should Work with a Residential Architect

A residential architect will help you achieve your vision and goals, often suggesting and improving on your ideas. Ultimately, a knowledgeable architect will save you time and money during the construction of your new home:

  • A professional architect will ensure your home building project meets your current and future needs and desires.

  • A good architect can design spaces in your home for specific activities or requirements.

  • An architect's creativity and problem-solving skills can anticipate obstacles and challenges of your project, providing early mitigation that can save you time and money.

  • Architects will perform a site analysis to maximize your new home's energy efficiency by looking at the home’s orientation and landscape features.

  • A knowledgeable architect can help you create an energy-efficient home with superior indoor environmental quality (IEQ) features like excellent air, light, and sound quality.

Four Tips for Working with a Residential Architect to Design Your Home

An architect can provide vital guidance in defining your goals and fine-tuning your future home's interior and exterior design. Experienced and knowledgeable architects understand the structural integrity needed for your area, local building codes, green design, and other critical engineering and legal elements of building a new home in your location.

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Before you begin looking for the right architect for your project, we suggest you identify your specific goals for your new home. In addition to their architectural skills, your project's success will depend on good communication between you and the architect, and your willingness to respect the architect's expertise.

1. Identify the Goals and Expectations for Your Future Home

Before choosing an architect, establishing what you want for the interior and exterior of your home, both now and in the future, will help you find the right architect for your project. A specific set of goals will also help you set a realistic budget.

In addition, providing your architect with sample floor plans, product information, images, and a feasible budget can help them understand your expectations for the home and create a path towards successful project completion.

2. How to Select an Architect for Your New Home

You will work closely with your architect for the duration of the homebuilding project; therefore, you need to trust the architect’s professional opinions and suggestions. When interviewing an architect for your new home, you should ask several essential questions to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to design your new home successfully:

  • Based on your goals, does the architect have the expertise for your home project?

  • Can the architect provide references for completed home projects?

  • Does the architect understand current market trends and construction techniques?

  • Does the architect typically deliver home projects on budget?

  • Does the architect believe they can achieve your homebuilding goals within your budget?

  • Ask the architect about their fee schedule-timeline for project delivery?

  • How often does the architect typically stop by a job site?

3. Establish Good Communication with Your Architect

The success of your home building project will depend on good communication between you and the architect. Once you select an architect, you must thoroughly communicate to the architect what you want and need in your future home. The architect will then make design suggestions to ensure you meet your goals but also stay within budget.

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As the project progresses, the responsibility of staying within budget lies with your architect. For instance, they must immediately inform you if a specific design feature will cause you to exceed the budget. To stay on budget, you must respect the architect’s expertise and design suggestions. The project's outcome also depends on good communication between the architect and builder since the builder quotes the project.

Successful completion of a home building project depends on good communication between you, your architect, and the builder.

4. Respect the Architect’s Building and Construction Knowledge

If you want to stay on budget and reach your construction goals, you should listen to your architect’s expertise in building and construction knowledge. A good architect will ensure compliance of your home building project with codes and local requirements and standards.

In addition to knowing building regulations, an architect can help you choose the latest high-performance building products, techniques, and systems (like the wall assembly) so you can create a durable, disaster-resistance, energy-efficient, low-maintenance home with excellent indoor environmental quality (IEQ).

Designing High-Performing Homes with ICF Wall Systems

To stay competitive in today’s busy market, architects must have the expertise to design high-performing homes that accommodate the demands of new homebuilders: energy efficiency, disaster-resistance, durability, low-maintenance, and indoor air quality. Fortunately, Fox Blocks ICFs provide architects and builders with a superior wall system for achieving all of these goals.

Energy-Efficient Fox Block Wall Assembly

Energy-efficient, high-thermal mass walls built with Fox Blocks, have an R-value of 23, surpass ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code mandates, and produce homes that need 44 percent less energy to heat than similar wood-framed homes.


Wind-resistant Fox Blocks wall systems with steel-reinforced concrete can withstand severe winds of over 200 MPH and projectile debris moving over 100 mph.

Fire-Resistant ICF has a fire-resistance rating (ASTM E119) of 4 hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2 hours for the 4-inch blocks.

Durable Walls

The solid continuous monolithic concrete wall system with a perm rating lower than 1.0 prevents moisture intrusion, stopping the growth of structurally damaging mold, mildew, and rot.

Fox Blocks resist termite damage because they lack the organic material that termites eat. However, for waterproofing and termite protection, Fox Blocks recommends applying Polyguard Products 650 XTM or 650 XTP membranes.

Creates Healthy IEQ

Fox Blocks ICFs control moisture intrusion into the wall system, prohibiting the growth of unhealthy mold.

In addition, sound transmission tests show that less than a third of sound passes through ICF walls than fiberglass insulation-filled wood-frame walls. Fox Blocks achieve a Sound Transmission Classification (ASTM E90) of 4-inch=STC 46, 6- and 8-inch = STC 50+.

Fox Blocks contain little to no VOCs or other airborne particulates.

How Fox Blocks Helps Architects and Builders Understand ICF Construction

The Fox Blocks Integrated Learning Center (ILC) offers architects (and contractors, installers, etc.) an online educational and training library to keep up with the latest information. The information will familiarize you with the characteristics, construction techniques, and benefits of the Fox Blocks product line for all construction types and applications, including home or commercial.

Fox Blocks Can Help you Achieve Your New Home Goals

You can achieve all your goals and expectations for your new home by working with a knowledgeable, qualified architect. Tips for working with an architect include, but are not limited to:

  • Knowing your goals for the new home

  • Selecting the right architect

  • Good communication

  • Trusting the architect's expertise

For more tips on working with an architect and how Fox Blocks ICFs can help you achieve the goals of building an energy-efficient, disaster-resistant, durable, and healthy home, contact one of our Fox Blocks professionals today.