Hiring an architect is not an everyday occurence for most homeowners, but it’s important to talk to several qualified professionals to ensure you’re getting the right person for the job. These seven questions will help you compare and contrast potential architects before making a hiring decision.

1.  What is your process for staying within the budget?

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With so many variables in the construction or remodeling of a home, costs can quickly exceed your budget. A reputable architect should be able to help you closely estimate overall costs, including materials and labor, and help you make the tough budget choices about where to cut if and when unexpected expenses arise.

2.  Can you show me your work?

Make sure the architect has completed projects that are comparable in scale and style to the plan you propose.

3.  Do you have at least three references?

As you interview previous clients, make sure you ask how well the architect communicated with them, stayed within their budgets and met their overall expectations.

4.  What challenges do you anticipate?

Anticipating complications is one key in determining if there may be some unforeseen issues with your project and, as a result, additional expenses.

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5.  How realistic is my proposed vision for the project?

An experienced and reliable architect should be willing to candidly discuss any limitations with your project.

6.  What is your project management style?

Ask if the architect will manage the entire project, from hiring all contractors to making design adjustments as the work progresses, reviewing and paying contractor invoices, and obtaining required permits.

7.  How do you charge?

It’s important to establish upfront how payments will be made. Many architects will request a substantial deposit at the beginning of the project and set a payment schedule as the work progresses to completion. Make sure you are comfortable with the payment plan. Establish ahead of time how payments will be handled if any issues arise.


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This article originally appeared on Angie’s List.