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Waitlist for architects grows as Austin's housing market continues to boom

Many architects are booked out at least six months to begin a project, although larger firms explained they are experiencing slightly shorter wait times.

AUSTIN, Texas — Homeowners hoping to renovate or a design a new home may have to wait. Between Austin's housing boom and the COVID-19 pandemic, the waitlist for architects is growing.  

Many architecture firms are booked at least six months out before they can begin the design process for a home or even select rooms within a home.  

"There is this amazing fast growth and the benefit of that is we get to see and learn as we are going a lot faster," said Camille Jobe, with Jobe Corral Architects.

Jobe and her partner, Ada Corral, explained they are trying to help as many clients as they can. And while it is a slow process, they do not want to sacrifice quality and beauty of the design by trying to move faster.

"We have the opportunity to be very responsible with the way we build our city," Corral added.

Like many industries, supply chain shortages have slowed down the production process and increased costs. 

An architect's timeline is also driven by how quickly the City approves permits and how available other specialists involved in the process are, including contractors, arborists, surveyors, etc. 

"The whole system is backlogged and our wait time, it just kind of falls in line with getting all the parts and pieces lined up to start a project," said Sarah Johnson, an architect with Matt Fajkus Architecture

As a larger firm with 10 to 12 designers and more resources, Johnson said they have a slightly shorter wait time of two to three months. 

Even then, Johnson explained the firm still has to narrow down which clients they work with based on their flexibility and design aspirations. 

"I would say, on average, we are getting four to five inquiries a week and then we are narrowing that down to about one interview," Johnson said.

As the competition for housing grows, the need for architects is too. Ingrid Spencer, executive director of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Austin Chapter, told KVUE that, in some cases, smaller firms are teaming up with larger ones to help take on more clients.

"Also, there are a lot of architects coming from out of state starting practices here, just because we have the market for it," Spencer said.

The process for a home renovation or build could take about two years depending on the scale of the project, Spencer said. 

Here are some tips architects recommend for future clients: 

  • Start the process early, including having conversations with different architects and the bank to hear various perspectives
  • Find an architect who understands your vision for the home
  • Be patient, the process is not quick
  • Have a flexible schedule. It will help reduce delays, and make it easier for various teams involved to finish their portion of the project

"It might be one of the most important things and the most expensive things that you ever do for your family, but it is an incredible experience," Spencer said.

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