When you are considering building your own home or undertaking major renovations, an architect may be critical to ensure that your project will be completed within your budget and time frame. Many people see an architect as someone who comes up with an initial concept design for a house and a builder would then carry out the construction work.
Depending on the terms of the contract, a good architect invariably involves more than the design and building plans. The key benefits of engaging an architect for your building project or renovations include:
- Collaborating with the owner throughout the design process – providing guidance and advice on the aesthetics as well as the practical aspects of a design, choosing the different types of building materials and finishes and the level of quality finish according to your budget.
- Deliberate with council to obtain feedback on compliance with building code and regulations, submit your building plans to council for approval.
- Project manage the entire building and construction process – advising, supervising and managing the various parties involved such as builders, landscaper, plumbing and electrical works.
- Provide advice on variations and offer suggestions to ensure efficiency in energy use whilst incorporating sustainable and environmentally friendly building principles.
Key process and issues to finding a good architect
- Search through national bodies such as the Association of Consulting Architects Australia to find a list of architects within your city or state.
- A good architect / firm of architects should have an informative website to provide clients and prospective clients about the type of work the firm specialises in. Such information would include the size of the firm, number of partners, previous number, size and location of projects undertaken. It is important to ensure the architect has the relevant experience and have undertaken similar projects before in the past.
- The architect should ideally have previous experience in dealing with the council in which you will be applying to and be able to provide an indication of whether proposed plans have any special conditions or requirements of council and the likelihood of approval.
- Discuss with a few different architects to gain a feel for the type of experience, work ethics and proposed fees charged. Just like many other professions, an architect’s terms of engagement and professional fees are guided by the standard Architect’s Institute of Australia (AIA) Client Architect agreement. You need to ensure you understand the terms of the agreement and consult a legal adviser if necessary.
- The architect will need to provide a fee proposal and terms of engagement that is appropriate for your project and should be flexible in tailoring certain issues according to your requirements. He / she should provide an indication of the duration or time line for the entire project so that you have a clear understanding of its costs and completion dates at each stage.
- It is important that you feel comfortable dealing with your prospective architect from the outset as you will need to be working closely with him / her during the course of the entire project.
When you have finally chosen your preferred architect, you will need to sign the letter of engagement before the architect can commence work on your project. It is very important to be hands-on during the course of the project even though the architect may be acting as the project manager / single point of contact that supervises the entire building and construction team. This is to be absolutely certain the project is going according to schedule and within your budget.