Read this before you hire an architect
When venturing into the realms of home renovation or construction, the initial steps can often appear overwhelming. Vishal Saxena the Director at Hyperspace Architecture, an architectural firm, suggests that for many individuals,
We conversed with Vishal Saxena to glean insights into the factors that warrant attention before enlisting the services of an architect.
Assessing the Value of Architects : Aspects to look for when choosing an architect
Vishal underscores, "The process of building or renovating can be quite taxing. Our primary aim is to alleviate stress for the client." He elaborates that a home designed by an architect typically commands higher value upon resale. Furthermore, architects serve as conduits to help realize your aspirations, managing aspects such as town planning permissions and coordinating with building contractors. Without this expertise, these areas can pose challenges.
Vishal highlights another pivotal advantage of architect involvement—bringing fresh perspectives that often lead to innovative design suggestions. He explains, "Our requisites include the brief, budget, site particulars, and the vision. Our role entails weaving these components into a cohesive whole and elevating the outcome."
Where to find Find an Architect ?
Architectural firms often showcase their projects on websites and platforms like Instagram. Identifying residences akin in design and scope to your ideas can be informative. The Australian Institute of Architects website features a "Find an Architect" section, allowing filtering based on location, building type, and budget.
Tapping into the experiences of those who've engaged architects and perusing diverse projects proves valuable. Architects might offer tours of houses they've designed, providing prospective clients insight.
Requesting references and analogous work examples while assessing adherence to timelines and budgets can aid in the selection process.
Distinguishing Architects from Draftsmen
Deciding between an architect and a draftsperson has long perplexed potential home improvers. According to Vishal , the disparity boils down to their training. "Becoming a registered architect necessitates at least five years of university education and practical experience. Historically, architecturally designed structures have significantly augmented project value," he notes. "Moreover, a registered architect is authorized to administer a building contract, mitigating client liability."
Draftspeople, while not bound by formal qualifications, typically complete a level of study (ranging from two to four years) and possess comprehensive knowledge of the technical facets of building and design. However, drafters are not mandated to hold licenses for providing technical drawings or architectural services, rendering them a more cost-effective choice upfront.
Some common refrains also heard are:
Hiring an architect can be expensive.
Some architects are going to drive up their costs with custom products and materials. ...
Some architects are not practical in their designs, meaning that they are not realistic about costs.
These are quite untrue and based on lack of knowledge spread by builders who want to get by poor quality constructions, lack of oversight or worse have bad intentions.
Evaluating Compatibility of Build and Design
Upon engaging an architect, the initial step involves site assessment. Vishal ascertains zoning restrictions, heritage overlays, and other development constraints. With these insights in hand, architects proceed to design, mindful of the constraints.
Architects also play a role in conveying when a concept might be unfeasible. Vishal emphasizes, "Solutions can typically be found. You might have 10 checkboxes but only tick eight or nine. This can still culminate in a successful project."
Harmonizing the Brief with the Budget
Establishing a practical budget and premise frequently poses a challenge during the design phase. Clients often underestimate costs, and contractors might inflate contract inclusions. Architect involvement can alleviate frustrations in this realm. Vishal explains that architects oversee contracts and ensure that the inclusions align with the brief. "We refine designs to maximize utility and results for the client. The essence lies in comprehending the budget's scope and objectives and determining whether they align."
Viability of Architect Engagement for Smaller Projects
Architects cater to an array of project scales, spanning second-story extensions to major commercial endeavors. Vishal affirms, "We thrive on challenges. A project's caliber matters most. While some architects specialize in specific domains, for renovation projects, a residential architect might be preferable over one focused on large-scale commercial architecture. Nonetheless, our core identity revolves around being designers, upholding consistent design excellence across all projects."
Addressing Dissatisfaction with Design or Plans
Regarding design concepts, Vishal advocates transparency. "Architecture thrives on collaboration," he emphasizes. "Our aim is to achieve optimal outcomes. If you have reservations, don't hesitate to offer feedback."
Enhancing Visualization through Technology
Incorporating technology, numerous practices utilize 3D drawings and even virtual reality to facilitate client comprehension of the envisaged design's final appearance. "We guide clients through 3D models, enabling them to visualize spaces," Vishal affirms.
Exploring Cost Dynamics
Architects adhere to a code of conduct that mandates designing and delivering projects within agreed budgets. Amy notes, "Clients present a brief and budget, often misaligned. Our role involves reconciling these aspects." She adds that architects skillfully manage cost-saving strategies and encourage discussions to align project requirements with budgets.
Architects adopt varied fee structures—percentage of construction cost, lump-sum fees, or time-based arrangements. These fees are individually set by each practice, with agreements established alongside architects at the outset.
Scope of Architectural Fees
Projects evolve through eight stages, including examples of design, schematic design, design development, contract documentation, tendering and negotiation, contract administration, construction, and post-construction phases.