5 ways to evaluate and select a Singapore Architect

If the infrastructure is the lifeblood of a nation, then architects are its heart and sinews. Experts at conceptualizing, designing, and tailoring buildings for functional use is their primary objective. Without them, there would be no hospitals, no schools, no entertainment venues, no residential landed houses in Singapore, and definitely no shopping malls.

An architect works on the problems of space, environment, and ideas. His work can either make or break down a millennia-old traditional culture. Although the important functions of architects can be found in other disciplines as well, in general, architects are considered to be at the pinnacle of all construction professionals. However, with countless architects at your disposal in Singapore, choosing the best one can be a daunting task.

To assist you in this difficult task, enlisted are some of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing your architect.

Singapore Architect – 5 Essential Questions

1. How Does the Design Process Work?

Buildings are made to accommodate people’s lifestyles. Designing a building is actually more like designing a lifestyle than designing a simple dwelling. Buildings are on a never-ending evolution process from their conception to the actual construction of the first project. This is given the nature of technology and the social influence that modern-day changes have on buildings. So when looking for a Singapore architect, first identify how the architect adapts to changing trends. Is he or she aware of new designs as they become available? Is he or she able to relate the trends and influences with the client’s preferences and wants? Most importantly, does the architect re-evaluate the design as construction practices, regulations and technology progresses over time?

2. Estimated Timeline: How Long Will It Take to Construct the Work?

As the process of constructing buildings is long and tedious, it is important for the architect to at least give you an estimated timeline. A defined timeline will enable you to allocate the budget more effectively since you will already know how expensive the project is going to be. However, change is an often-experienced concept in the field of architecture. Moreover, construction phases are dependent on a number of different factors making the process less concrete than one would expect. Architects do not control the time schedules of the constructor. Whereas most contractors are careful in adhering to the deadlines, unexpected problems can easily stall construction. Hence, it is prudent for a Singapore architect to give you an estimated timeline, but I would advise you to cross-check other references on how much it should take for your project to be completed.

3. Experience in the Market: Does the Singapore Architect Have the Relevant Qualifications?

If you are in the market for an architect, avoid just going on by looks or catchy advertisement campaigns but instead go for an architect with the relevant qualifications. We have all heard stories of people who can’t afford a fancy house but got a little bit interested in what the architect had to say. An architect’s education and qualification are a lengthy journey that includes 6 years of study and on-the-job training. The qualification process then takes at least 2 years that includes compiling a log book of relevant experience and taking the Singapore Board of Architects examination. Many architects take almost 10 years for qualification. Hence, it is important for you to find out whether the architect is fully qualified before deciding to work with him or her.

Be wary of an architect who claims to possess a high level of expertise but is devoid of any formal education, training or certification. In Singapore, it is illegal for anyone to use the word “architect” unless the person is registered (Refer to Board of Architects Singapore FAQ)

At the end of the day, a professional Architect has to adhere to strict standards of service and ethical practice as stipulated by the law.

4. Charge: How Much Does the Architect Plan to Charge for His Services?

Although some might call it impolite to discuss business immediately, money is usually on everyone’s mind when it comes to doing business. Because building is a major undertaking – be it a hotel, office building or a landed home, it is important to enquire how much money the architect will plan to charge for his services. Ask a number of questions regarding the what the cost covers and the schedule of payment. In general, there are three parts to the cost of the construction process- Architectural consultancy fees, Authority submission fees and Construction costs.

All of these three components are important to the Client – the last fee component – “construction” being the bulk of the cost for any project. The client can set the budget that will cover each of these parts independently, or the seek an architect for guidance and estimates. To avoid issues and misunderstandings, it is crucial that both the client and the architect agree on the scope of the project and costs involved for each part. This will help the Client work out an appropriate budget for the project.

5. Involvement: What is the Role of an Architect?

The key role of an Architect is the driver and supervisor of a building project. Before you agree to work with any Singapore Architect firm, check if they have the right experience for your type of job, and how they will be actively involved in the construction process. This includes not only design and submission to the relevant Authorities; it also involves project management during construction. Services will include organizing site and progress meetings, coordinating contractor and sub-consultants and issuance of relevant Certificates for progress and payment.
In all projects, architects are directly involved with the project from beginning to end. They constantly meet with clients, consultants and suppliers during the planning and design process. They will facilitate the tender selection process for the main contractor. Hence, it is clear that you want to engage an Architect that has a strong portfolio of experience and contacts in the industry.
Finally, experience of the architect and the level of involvement of the architect will have a considerable effect on the cost of the project. So, before signing any contract, make sure to discuss your involvement needs and your situation with your Singapore architect.


In a mature market, where architects ensure that owners are always satisfied, finding the right architect can be a difficult task. In such an environment, architects are competing with each other to try to impress the client with design, skills and competitive fees. Needless to say, it does not mean a smooth-talking designer with cheap fees has the relevant qualification to execute your building project, however minor or easy it may seem. As you may have observed in the earlier discussion, finding the right architect is as much about studying the architect as it is about studying the client.

If you are in the process of selecting a Singapore architect, you must consider searching the Board of Architects Singapore website to find out if your shortlisted Singapore Architect firm is competent and qualified. As a responsible customer, it’s your duty to find out if your Singapore architect meets the proper requirements and qualifications and have the relevant experience so that your building project will be completed to a level that will bring you satisfaction, delight and enjoyment.