If I asked “what does an architect do?” you would most probably say “designs buildings” and you would be right.
But a good architect does much more than that.
In this series of articles I’m discussing the role of the various consultants that make up the development team and today we’ll consider the architect’s role.
A good architect can co-ordinate all the design consultants, assist with the town planning process and may even supervise the construction phase of your project.
They can assist with:-
- Selecting a site
- Undertaking feasibility studies
- Designing and planning
- Managing the building budget
- Selecting and managing the project team
- Designing the interior.
- Designing the surrounding landscaping.
Not all architects will undertake this type of full project management services, but some can manage your project from start to finish.
In general your needs will be better served learning the skills of running your projects yourself or using the services of a project development manager rather than an architect to “run” the project.
Project managers tend to be more practical, while architects tend to be more “creative.”
Working with an architect
Having said that, a good architect will add considerably to the value of your project by designing a project that will be appealing to the market place.
Some beginning developers try and save money at this stage and go to draftsmen who are cheaper.
Investing a little more at the important design stage of your project should give you a development with better street appeal and a proposal which should work its way through council much quicker.
As I’ve already explained, although architects are a critical part of your team, they should not be the leader of the development team.
While architects are good creative people, I have found that many architects do not take into account the factors such as the final cost or complexity of construction.
That is why the developer and the rest of the team should have a strong input into the design phase of the project without severely limiting the architect’s options.
This will ensure that the whole team comes up with a financially viable project.
The architect or your designer’s role will fall into 3 parts
1. Town Planning
- Drawing up an initial concept scheme
- Completing town planning drawings for submission to council
2. Preparing detailed working drawings including coordinating necessary consultants such as geotechnical, structural and civil engineers.
3. Possibly administration of the building contract and supervision of the construction.
How to select an architect
Like with most consultants, recommendation from a satisfied client is a great way to choose an architect, or you may have seen one of his projects and admired his style.
Meet the architect and discuss your project and your needs.
Explain the services you require and ask about the likely fees you will have to pay.
At this stage you will not get a firm fee as the project parameters have not been determined.
Make sure you feel comfortable with the architect and get the responses you want, as you will be working with him for a year or more.
Ask to be given a list of completed projects for you to look at and the names of some past clients to contact.
Finally ensure the architect is a member of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. www.architecture.com.au
The Architectural Brief
Once you have selected your architect you will need to give him a brief.
They will need an indication of the nature of the project you want, its shape and the number of dwellings together with some general design comments including the sort of materials you’d like to use.
The architect will then visit the site; check the town planning zoning for your property and after analyzing your design brief assess the property’s conditions and constraints and determine the best location and orientation for your project.
If necessary they will consult with the councils town planners to familiarise themself with their planning requirements.
The next step is to develop a rough concept sketch to show you the number and type of dwellings the site can accommodate.
They will submit these concept design drawings, which usually includes a rough floor plan plus one elevation, for your perusal and comments.
These preliminary drawings will allow you to do a more detailed feasibility study as you will now have a better idea of what you may eventually be able to build on your site.
Once you have approved the concept designs, the architect should engage a surveyor to draw up a feature survey of the property and its surroundings to enable the architect to complete the town planning drawings.
These plans will from part of the copious amount of paperwork required for a development approval which may be submitted by the architect or your town planner to council.
Once you have an approved development application or planning permit, the architect will then proceed to draft working drawings.
These will be combined with the engineering, structural and civil engineering drawings to enable you to obtain a building permit and to get quotes from builders.
These drawings are very detailed and show all dimensions, levels, ceiling heights, window and door locations and material finishes.
These drawings should include details such as plumbing and fireplace, where you are putting the hot water service and heating and cooling systems.
In some cases the architect will be engaged to administer the building contract and supervise construction.
This involves selecting the builders and inviting them to quote and explaining the difference in the various quotes to you.
In my opinion, this role should be left to the project or development manager and not the architect.
Architects tend to be conceptual, creative people and are often not as good looking after fine details.
Paying your architect
Architects fees are usually fixed at the beginning of the project and are often based on the percentage of the total cost of the project.
Their fee scale is usually established by the Institute of Architects.
As with most things in life, you will usually get the standard of service you pay for.
While there are some drafting services who will draw up plans much cheaper than an architect, in general using a good architect will add considerable value to your project because of its street appeal.
The architect usually requires his payments to be staged, with first stage occurring at concept plan, then a further payment on submission to council of the development application drawings.
He will then require a further payment to draft the working drawings for you.
As a great architectural design can add significantly to the value of your development project, chose your architect carefully.
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