The COVID-19 pandemic forced billions of people into lockdowns as the battle against the coronavirus was waged across the world. During this period, some intrepid people took on impressive home design and renovation projects, from simple DIY home furniture hacks like spray-foam tables to comparatively more elaborate repainting schemes. However, what became clear during this time was that serious home renovation and redesign were above the average person’s pay grade. Enter the freelance architect. An invaluable resource to people interested in working on architectural design projects in their environment, ranging from small-scale home renovations to large-scale building projects, freelance architects comprise a sizable portion of practicing architects worldwide. This article aims to serve as a guide to a person who wants to utilize a freelance architect’s services but has no idea where to start. 

How to Hire a Freelance Architect - Sheet1
Architectural Drafting_Getty Images, https://www.forbes.com/advisor/home-improvement/floor-plan-designer-cost/
How to Hire a Freelance Architect - Sheet2
Book Tower House, London, UK_Platform 5 Architects, https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/industry/going-freelance-as-an-architect/

What is a Freelance Architect?

As zip recruiter magazine defines the title, a freelance architect is someone whose “job is to work by contract to design buildings and other structures” (What Does a Freelance Architect Do, n.d.). The reasons behind why people choose to practice as freelance architects can vary, but they primarily relate to the flexibility of being a freelancer. This flexibility is especially relevant considering the highly regimented nature of working in a larger-scale firm. Freelance architects are also sometimes hired as supplements to studios that need more staff during large projects. Being a freelance architect can also be the starting point for an architect to eventually begin hiring other people and set up a practice of their own. While the choice to be a freelance architect can result in more personal freedom, it also involves more individual work, with one person often overseeing every aspect of the design process.

How to Hire a Freelance Architect - Sheet3
Example of a Vision Board_Osceola Refetoff, http://hafny.org/blog/2019/8/a-new-exhibition-elevates-vision-board-kitsch-into-futuristic-prophecy

Points to Note When Hiring a Freelance Architect

A freelance architect’s services can vary significantly based on the chosen specialty of a given freelance architect. Some professionals focus on helping to put together business proposals, some concentrate on sustainable architecture, and others focus on a complete design process, from the inception of an idea to the completion of a project. As such, it is extremely important to consider what exactly you want out of a completed project. This project proposal can range from something as simple as a basic vision board and a basic brief to a detailed proposal on the particulars of your project. This first step will help you determine which kind of freelance architect to hire. For example, if you are unsure of where to begin your project, it would be useful to look into a full-service design firm that helps you with your project from the very start to the finish (The 27 Best Freelancer Architects Around You, 2022)

How to Hire a Freelance Architect - Sheet4
Architectural Design in Progress_Housing.com, https://housing.com/news/how-to-hire-an-architect-for-your-home-construction/

How Do You Hire a Freelance Architect

Depending on the scale of the geographical area within which they take on work, freelance architects are found through a combination of online exposure, advertising, and personal connections. For online exposure, websites like Upwork, People Per Hour, and Houzz are online marketplaces where people can browse through professionals offering services until they come across someone who fits their bill. These websites are particularly useful if you have a more detailed understanding of what you want from your project, as they allow you to easily find freelance workers who specialize in the area you are focused on. In terms of advertisements, they can be found both online and offline, with traditional print media sources like design-focused newspapers and architecture magazines being popular places to find freelance architects advertising themselves for hire. The same can apply to online architecture magazines and media sources like Rethinking the Future, Archdaily, Architzer, and more. Finally, personal connections can be extremely helpful in terms of finding freelance architects. If you know someone whose design project appealed to you, consider reaching out to them and asking for an introduction to their freelance architect, which could in turn lead to you finding the right architect for you. This last option is arguably the most secure, as it both allows you to see the architect’s work in person and also helps verify whether an architect is easy to work with.

How to Hire a Freelance Architect - Sheet5
Architect at Work_thebinaryarchitect.com, http://thebinaryarchitect.com/

The Rates of a Freelance Architect

The rates of a freelance architect can vary significantly based on a combination of factors, such as experience and rate type. Popularly, freelance architects either charge an hourly rate, a rate per square foot designed, or a rate based on a percentage of the construction costs. These rates can vary significantly, with important caveats for each type of freelance architect. For example, while an intern freelance architect might be the cheapest to hire, they also require a licensed architect to work with them, making the total cost the two architect’s combined rates. Beyond these hourly rates, expect to also pay for the plans (including blueprints, electrics, and plumbing). It is also worth noting that freelance architects rarely charge fixed prices for their entire project, as designing tends to be a very flexible process that is hard to correctly estimate beforehand..

Computer-Based Work_ancorathemes.com, https://ancorathemes.com/2021/03/25/how-a-freelance-architect-differs-from-an-architecture-firm/

Freelance architects are an incredibly valuable resource to the average person outside the field of architecture who requires design services. Freelance architects vary across many different metrics and specializations, so it is important to know exactly what you need from your freelance architect. The best place to look for a freelance architect to hire is through online websites, advertisements in architecture and design-related media, and personal connections. It is also important to note that the pricing for freelance architects can vary significantly based on a variety of factors, making project estimates (and fixed overall prices) difficult to conclusively determine (Walshaw, n.d.)

References

Homeadvisor.com. 2022. Learn how much it costs to Hire an Architect.. [online] Available at: <https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/architects-and-engineers/hire-an-architect/> [Accessed 17 July 2022].

Upwork. 2022. The 27 Best Freelancer Architects Around You. [online] Available at: <https://www.upwork.com/hire/architectural-designers/> [Accessed 17 July 2022].

Walshaw, E., n.d. A Beginner’s Guide To Going Freelance as an Architect. [online] Architzer. Available at: <https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/industry/going-freelance-as-an-architect/> [Accessed 17 July 2022].

Walshaw, E., n.d. How To Find Work as a Freelance Architect. [online] Architzer. Available at: <https://architizer.com/blog/inspiration/industry/find-work-as-a-freelance-architect/> [Accessed 17 July 2022].

ZipRecruiter. n.d. What Does a Freelance Architect Do. [online] Available at: <https://www.ziprecruiter.com/e/What-Does-a-Freelance-Architect-Do> [Accessed 17 July 2022].

Author

Aaditya Bhasker he is an undergraduate student of Architecture and Urban-Studies at Haverford College. He hopes to channel his passion for architecture into social justice work surrounding housing reform in India. Outside academia, they also enjoy watching movies, reading, and hiking with their dog in Hong Kong, where they currently lives

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