Think Glink Special Report

Architect and author Sarah Susanka believes in creating houses that reflect yourself and are truly your own spaces. “I was telling people that they needed a good design, and good craftsmen to make that house for them or remodel that house, and I also knew that those people were very difficult to find,” she says.

So Susanka created a home professionals directory on her Web site.

Susanka believes the Internet creates new opportunities for home professionals to connect with each other and connect with clients. Her directory is a place where those who love to do beautiful work can unite and make important associations, Susanka says.

Susanka also recommends the American Institute of Architects which also lists all of the architects that belong to their organization on their Web site.

Other than the Internet a great tool is your own neighborhood. Susanka encourages people to look at houses in their area they like because she says “although it may be the builder’s sign that’s outside the house, if it’s something really beautiful, nine times out of 10, an architect was involved.”

Once you find a couple architects you like, put them through an interview process to make sure you are on the same page. Your checklist should include fee, style of work and chemistry.

As an architect becomes better known he or she can charge more, and they typically do. “But you can also find architects who are young and are working on an hourly rate, on an hourly basis, that are an incredibly good deal,” Susanka says.

Your plans will have to include money, so make sure your architect can speak openly with you about costs. “I would have a conversation about money literally every meeting if you can. Although it may seem awful to do, it’s important. It’s incredibly important. There’s the dreams and there’s the dollars, and they have to meet all the way through the process,” Susanka says.

It is important that you actually like your architect and you like what he or she does. Don’t be swayed towards an architect just because he builds a lot of houses. “It’s not the number of houses that somebody’s building, but how they are making each one,” Susanka says, “It’s craft. And it’s something that we’ve forgotten is important.” And chemistry is king. Susanka says, “You’ve got to feel like you can communicate with that person and feel like they can hear you.” It is like hiring anyone, she says, you want someone you actually like.

For more stories on home improvement, home inspections, real estate and personal finance visit Check out these videos featuring Sarah Susanka:

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