Whether you want to build your dream home or develop an existing space, engaging an architect gives you the best chance of success.
THE BENEFITS OF CHOOSING AN ARCHITECT
Architects are the best qualified professionals to help you realise your vision for your home. A good architect will manage your project professionally, add value and can guide you through the complete design and construction process. Architects are lateral thinkers that provide a creative and innovative service, encompassing every aspect of a project.
Working within the parameters of the site and your budget they will utilise their skills to create value for money and squeeze the most out of your project.
Architects are highly trained creative design professionals committed to creating beautiful and functional spaces to inhabit. It has been found that homes designed by architects achieve higher
resale values. Architects can suggest inventive ways to address limitations of the project and how to maximise opportunities. Through innovative design, incorporating thermal efficiency, optimum
design and material selections an architect designed home can significantly reduce your homes running costs. An architect’s fees, at a fraction of your total project cost, will prove to be a sound
Creativity and imagination
Through creative and practical solutions an architect can help create that “wow” factor for your home. By combining your lifestyle needs with imaginative design they can help you achieve your
Peace of mind
An architect offers an unequalled level of design expertise and professional service which no other building professional can provide. Architects undertake a minimum of seven years of architectural training and the term ‘Architect’ is legally protected by law and is only able to be used by people or firms registered with the Architects Registration Board.
Architects are the best qualified professionals to help you realise your vision for your home
WHAT AN ARCHITECT CAN PROVIDE
An architect has the training and experience to successfully oversee each aspect of your project through to completion. They help with setting a realistic budget, create design, administer the approvals process and manage the build. Knowing how and when all the aspects of your project fit together is a critical function of an architect.
An architect will conduct a feasibility study taking into account all the factors that can affect your proposed project. Whether you are looking for a site or already have one, they will consider various factors including: solar orientation, physical site conditions, planning and build guidelines and potential construction issues.
A high quality brief is key to the success of any project. In the pre-design stage of a project it is important to discuss your needs and wants with your architect so that a clear outline of the direction and scope of your project is created with a realistic budget set. This will help keep the project going in the right direction in a timely manner, allowing easy identification
of potential issues and reducing design costs.
In this stage you will be working closely with your architect to ensure the optimum design outcome is achieved in alignment with your budget. There will be a focus on functionality, aesthetics and exploring different materials and finishes that will add real value to you home.
Development and town planning
If required, your architect can manage any town planning and development approval requirements. They will provide guidance for navigating through the various approvals processes. Your architect will prepare and submit all required documents and applications on your behalf. The experience and knowledge an architect brings to your project will reduce the risks associated with the planning process and obtaining planning approval.
Project drawings and specification will be prepared by your architect. The architect will also produce the documentation drawings or may oversee documentation by an alternative consultant. They will also assist you with the process to obtain a building permit.
Selection of contractors
Your architect will partner you with contractor selection and integration to help find a suitable builder for your project. They can assist you to obtain competitive quotes for building, negotiate with builders on your behalf and prepare the contract documents if required.
Your architect will oversee the delivery of the design intent during construction. To ensure that the specification and contract are being adhered to. They will liaise with the builder at key stages of construction to assess the quality of work. While administering the construction stage through to completion, your architect will keep you informed of the progress of the project, discuss any variations, sign off on progress payments, identify defects and manage their rectification.
FINDING THE RIGHT ARCHITECT
For any particular project there are a multitude of possible design responses. From client, site and project brief there are many variables that make each project unique. As the professional leading your project it is important that you choose an architect you trust and are confident can successfully lead you through the process.
When is the best time to involve an Architect?
Even before design begins, an architect can provide valuable guidance at the start of a project. So the earlier you engage an architect the better. They can help you define the scope of your project, in the critical early stages, with a detailed design brief and site analysis. Getting the right architect on board is an important piece of your projects success.
How many Architects should I meet?
Typically you would want to interview 2 – 3 architectural practices. This will allow you to see a good range of services and styles that are available without becoming overwhelmed by seeing too many. If you have a good existing relationship with an architect then you may want to keep working with them.
Where can I find suitable Architects to contact?
There are a number of ways to find potentially suitable architects. Talk to family and friends to see if they have used and been happy with the services of a particular architect. Do your own research and find examples of houses that you like and who designed them. Consider the speciality of each practice and see if it aligns with the type of home you are wanting to design.
How do I get the most out of interviewing an Architect?
You can assess the architect’s work and see how it may have addressed similar issues to your project or that is similar in either size or scope to your home. It is also important to enquire into the possible approach the architect may take with your project.
Why is it important to formally interview potential Architects?
Before selecting an architect for your project it is important to meet the architects you are considering to see if there is the right chemistry. There is much you can pick up face to face in an interview that you won’t get from a glossy brochure or website.
What services should my Architect provide?
Architects can provide a wide range of services depending on your particular project requirements. You may wish for your architect to manage each aspect of your project or you may only require
certain aspects of an architect’s service. It is important to discuss with your architect who will be managing any owner supplied work or services as there can be a number of external consultants required on your project.
How do I choose the right Architect for my project?
Confidence and trust in the architect you choose is critical for a effective creative partnership. When considering an architect to work with you should weigh up the right mix of design creativity, technical ability, professional service and costs. Ask to contact previous clients to enquire into their experience of the design process and the architectural outcomes.
Many architects often put as much attention on carefully selecting their clients as owners do in selecting their architect. Considering that a collaborative working relationship with an architect can extend for a year or more, it is important that both parties are satisfied that their relationship will culminate in a successful outcome. With this in mind it is likely your architect will want to know some important elements of your project – for example – motivation, purpose, budget, timeframe, who is involved etc.
Examples of work
Understanding the process and how architects and previous clients have worked to achieve their desired outcomes will help you visualise your project coming to life. This will not only illustrate how you could expect to work with the architect, but also the timeline of a project. Seeing examples of the architect’s work will help you get a sense of their style, specialty and approach.
CREATING THE DESIGN BRIEF
A design brief encompasses everything that you want in your home, ranging from the specific items on your ‘wish list’, to how you want to use your home and the practical requirements for day to day living.
A quality brief is an essential ingredient and contains all the elements that an architect needs to know for successfully achieving your vision. It’s important that you clearly and comprehensively communicate your wants, needs, requirements and aspirations. An architect is expertly trained to guide you through the brief process simply, concisely, creatively and with a minimum of stress. Through open discussion and exploring ideas, a brief will be formulated specific to your project. Creating a brief is like a road map for your project, the better the brief the more successful your journey will be.
As part of the brief an architect will discuss the possibilities of your site, explaining the different constraints and opportunities of your site based on your brief. The brief will form the cornerstone for your project and will allow your architect to create the best design solution for your home.
THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN CLIENT & ARCHITECT
Before your project gets underway it is important that you and your architect discuss and agree on the scope and cost of services to be provided. Your architect, once selected, will prepare a formal written agreement, detailing the architectural services to be provided and the responsibilities of each party.
The agreement should clearly outline the responsibilities of each party, the scope and nature of services to be provided and fee structure. The agreement should contain the following specifics:
- • Details of project
- • Architectural services to be provided
- • Cost and time
- • Architectural fees
- • Specialist consultants
- • Intellectual property
- • Insurances and liabilities
- • Client and architect obligations
- • Dispute resolution and termination
- • Special conditions
The client needs to:
- • Provide accurate and complete information
- • Appoint the architect to act on their behalf to conduct the agreed services
- • Co-operate with the Architect
- • Make fee payments as set out in the payment schedule
FEES AND COSTS
There is no definitive method for calculating architect’s fees, though they are usually
calculated by the amount of work that goes into a project.
Typically fees will be quoted as a percentage of the building cost, total project cost or as a lump sum. In some cases, where the nature and scope of the project is harder to predict, a fee proposal can consist of a sum based on an hourly rate and an estimate of the time required for the project. This may also be the case for additional services that do not directly relate to construction, such as conducting a feasibility study.
The fees for a project will be a reflection of the complexity, design requirements and level of service. For example, projects involving home additions and alterations (when integrating new parts of a house with existing parts of a house) can require more resources than a new build. The work involved on a heritage project can be even more complex, and time intensive, involving higher fees.
The payment of fees to an architect over the life of a project are made at regular intervals and are set out in the Client/Architect agreement.
THE BUILDING CONTRACT
The building contract is a legally binding document between you and your builder to deliver your project. Your architect can both administer the contract, and review it to make sure that it is written in a fair and even handed manner for both parties. This will take into account potentially ‘hidden surprises’ that may occur during the construction stage of the project. The contract should clearly outline a balanced and unbiased way to administer the contract in the event of an unexpected circumstance impacting the design or building process.
In addition to administering the building contract, an architect can advise you on the details of your contract. This is a considerably valuable function of the architect as they not only have the skills and expertise to do so, they can also help to reduce your stress and mitigate risk, considering you may not have the time or experience to do this.
The role of a draftsperson
While architects are highly trained to design buildings, a draftsperson has the skillset and knowledge needed for drafting and documenting buildings. They translate the architectural design concept into a set of buildable drawings that the builder can work from to construct. An architect has the training to manage a project from the pre-concept stage through to completion, including overseeing the drafting and documentation of the project.
The role of the builder
The builder is a skilled professional who has the skills to deliver the construction stage of the project. While the architect’s role is to oversee the delivery of the building work, the builder’s role is to supervise and manage the construction of the building works.
What is the role of a client?
Ultimately the client is the catalyst for a project and is a key part of the creative team. As the client, you need to be clear that the architect you have selected to work with is a suitable match for you and your project. Creating great architecture is a partnership and requires clear communication throughout the process. In contrast to the misplaced myth that the architect will try to impose their ideas and style on the project, they will ultimately be looking to apply their skills to closely follow your brief, so be prepared to voice your views and ideas.
For many people their house represents the biggest investment of their life. Done well, designing and creating it can be an incredibly enjoyable and rewarding experience. An architect is the key to the creation of a successful project whether it is a renovation, addition or a new build. Carefully selecting your architect at the start of the project is a critical step in the realisation of your vision. They will lead and facilitate the project providing expert coordination while creating value and peace of mind.