Engaging an architect

Let’s suppose you have the need to expand your house. The family is growing, the kids need a separate rumpus area or separate bedrooms, bring in some morning sun, hide the neighbour’s backyard or you just want to improve your home’s day to day functionality. What are the steps to realizing your dream?

Some people head straight to a builder but the first thing he is going to say is that he needs drawings before he can provide any indication of cost. He could recommend a draftsman who could whip up a layout and your builder could then complete your project in quick time. You might have spent $300,000 but who in that process has given serious consideration to your current and future needs as well as providing a sustainable, climatically-responsive dwelling with enduring aesthetic longevity that you will enjoy living in every day into your older age. Have you spent your hard-earned dollars effectively?

Many builders are not so interested in design – apart from where it can make construction simpler (and their building designers / draftsmen often do a part-time, compliance-oriented course over a couple of years). There is no design focus in starting with a builder as first contact.

Another consideration is that most people only carry out one major building project in their lives – so there is little to compare their major spend with. So to avoid any lingering doubts over the rest of your time in your house, I am suggesting you take a leap of faith and engage an architect as your first contact.

Architects are registered professionals who have undertaken a full time, 3-year undergraduate degree and then a 2-year masters degree, with the focus on ‘design’. This is followed by a further minimum 2 years working as a graduate architect before they do further study to become registered as an architect.

Good design adds value to your investment – and to your life. Architects pride themselves on being 3-dimensional problem solvers who can work with you to assess your family home limitations; discuss your short, medium and long term needs; interpret your dreams and desires and transform these into a workable design; and can be responsive to considered staged transformation – saving you serious money and avoiding re-work in the future.

Living in a well-designed, thoughtful, climatically- responsive home environment will lift your spirits every day!

If you look at the different home magazines, you may see the difference between builders’ project homes and architect-designed projects. But I understand that some people are nervous about engaging with an architect. Let me assure you, that first and foremost we want to look after you as our client. Even though you may know very little of the building process, you will be treated with respect and carefully guided through the long process from first meeting to handing over the keys of the finished project.

All you need for a first contact with an architect is to present the ‘problem’. The architect will soon work through your needs and after a while create the ‘brief’ – the goals of the project – that you will both agree on to move forward.

It is helpful to know your genuine financial limitations, but many people approach it by wanting to see what a ‘full and final’ solution might cost and work towards that – even if it means ‘staging’ the project. If you can see a benefit in a design that will allow you to stay longer in your home and enjoy it more, you may wish to go the extra mile. In any case, if there is a finite budget, your architect will work to that.

In the next blog I will cover how the progression of the project to the design phase occurs and then onward to documentation and delivering the finished product.

Give me a call anytime on 38466800 or 0407374261.

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