Finding and Selecting a Design Professional

Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners

Obtain the names of design professionals from more than one source. Ask for recommendations from someone you know who has worked with a design professional. Look in the yellow pages of the telephone directory under "Architects," "Engineers," "Landscape Architects," and "Interior Designers" for individuals and firms.

Contact several design professionals before making your final choice. When dealing with the construction and remodeling of buildings, the general practice is for the architect to obtain the services of an engineer, landscape architect and/or interior designer depending on the specific needs of the project. Unless you are absolutely satisfied with one referral from a reliable source, you will now need to determine which design professional from the list you have compiled will be able to provide the services you need at a reasonable cost.

The Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners does not maintain a referral service and cannot recommend a design professional. Consumers may call the Board Office or search the licensee roster that is available on the Board's web site for information about the registration status of any design professional.

Request For Information
You should request information on qualifications and experience from several design professionals. After reviewing their qualifications, interview three or four of them to determine their understanding of your project and their compatibility in working with you. During the selection process, you may want to ask some or all of the following questions:

General Information

  • Do you have a valid Tennessee architect, engineering, landscape architect, or registered interior designer license? If so, what is your registration number?
  • Do you carry professional liability insurance? If so, what type(s) and what amount?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many persons are employed by your firm?
  • What percentage of your practice involves the project or type of structure I intend to build or undertake?


  • Have you recently designed the type of project or structure I intend to build or undertake?
  • May I see examples of your work that are similar to my project (sketches, photos, plans)?
  • May I have the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the clients whose projects you are using for these examples?
  • What was the actual construction or project cost versus budgeted cost for these projects?


  • What services did you provide for these clients during the design, bidding and construction phases?
  • What services do you propose to provide for my project during each of these phases?
  • Who will provide these services: you or your employees?


  • What will the fee schedule be? How will your fees for my project be determined and what services do the fees cover?
  • If other design professionals are necessary for my project, are their fees included in your basic fee?
  • What additional costs (e.g., permit and other governmental fees) or services (e.g., time spent obtaining necessary permits and other approvals) do you anticipate for my project?
  • How do you establish your fees for additional services and reimbursable expenses?
  • Will there be a charge for redesign if it is necessary to meet the construction budget? How are additional charges computed for design changes requested by me?


  • Can you meet my proposed schedule?

Making the Final Decision
Contact the Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners to:

  • Verify the registration status of the design professionals you interviewed. Although the design professional may display certificates indicating that they are registered by the state, these certificates may be invalid if the individual has not renewed their licenses, has had his or her privilege to practice suspended, or his or her license has been revoked. To assist consumers in determining whether a design professional is registered in the State of Tennessee, the Board maintains a roster on its web site for each profession regulated by the Board as well as a listing of firms duly qualified to practice architecture, engineering, or landscape architecture in the State.
  • Determine whether any complaints have been filed against the design professional. The fact that a complaint may have been filed against the design professional is not, without Board action, a determination of the truth of any facts alleged in such complaint.

Check the references that each design professional has given you and ask the following questions:

  • Did the design professional adhere to required schedules and budgets?
  • Were the clients pleased with the design professionals' work and their working relationship with the design professional?
  • Did the design professional listen to the clients' concerns and attempt to resolve them?
  • Would they hire the design professional again?

If possible, visit the project sites the design professionals have used as examples of their work.