Should I use an Architect?
If you’re preparing to build a new property you may find yourself wondering “Should I use an Architect?”. Is it worth it? Will I get good value from an Architect’s services? The truth is an Architect isn’t required for every project while others absolutely need the input of a highly skilled expert. So, which is it for you? In this blog, we’ll look at the factors that influence your need for an Architect to help you decide if using one is right for you.
What do Architects actually do?
It seems like a no-brainer but the first step in finding an answer to the question “Should I use an architect?” is “What do Architects do?”. An Architect is the designer and contract administrator of a construction project, as distinct from a building supervisor or manager who is involved in the construction of the project.
Architects can perform any of the following tasks:
- Design buildings that combine appealing aesthetics, energy efficiency, environmental friendliness and structural safety in one cohesive whole
- Determine construction project objectives and parameters with clients to determine factors like budget and time frame
- Administer the Building Contract which exists between the Client and the Builder. This can include withholding certifying payment for defective work or recommending the dismissal of non-complying builders
- Monitor and assist the Builder with interpreting documents, answering any questions the Builder may have and reviewing progress on the construction work
- Maximise the site’s potential through their in-depth knowledge of Council planning controls such as height limits and setbacks
- Manage and obtain information required for Council Development Applications and Construction Certificates including the preparation of Architectural documents and consultant reports.
Architects are often more qualified than construction managers and supervisors as they must complete a minimum of five years of University study followed by two years of practical experience prior to registering as an Architect along with annual professional development to maintain their registration. The Architect fully understands the design and the Client’s objectives.
Benefits of using an Architect
1. Your home will be unique and timeless
There’s something irresistible about the idea of a completely unique home. An architecturally designed home will stand out from the surrounding properties as a distinctive design which is very different from a standard project home. Architecturally designed homes are also created with style and substance at their core, rather than in response to building trends which can quickly date a home.
2. You can have exactly what you want
Some house hunters walk into a house and say “this is it”, but for many of us what we want only exists in our minds. An architect can take that internal vision and turn it into a reality, incorporating all the elements you want and making your home exactly right for you. If you’re the sort of person who has a long list of “must-haves” and an equally long list of “definitely don’t wants” then an architecturally designed home is probably right for you.
One of the benefits of using an architect is having your home made to your specifications. It’ll not only have the right number of bathrooms and bedrooms, it’ll also have the exact look, feel and style that you’ve been searching for.
3. An Architect can save you money
Architects aren’t just skilled designers — they’re great at balancing budgets too. Any Architect worth their salt will be able to give you accurate cost estimations in the planning phases to help you make informed decisions and get the best bang for your buck. They can also show you cost-effective alternatives and solutions you may not have considered.
4. Your home can be more sustainable
The cost of your new home isn’t limited to design and construction costs. Your home will of course have ongoing running costs like heating, cooling, maintenance and lighting. Architects are expertly trained in ventilation, shading, natural light and orientation and the impacts they’ll have on the efficiency of your home. An architecturally designed home can be designed and constructed to maximise natural ventilation, lighting and shading to minimise future costs and environmental impacts of that home. Architects can also recommend environmentally sound building materials.
5. You can see what your home looks like before it’s built
Most of us struggle to picture something as complex as a house or building in our mind’s eye. Fortunately, with modern Architectural Drawing techniques, Architects can create incredibly detailed photo-realistic mock-ups of your home so you can see exactly what your completed home will look like in situ.
6. Architects can surprise you
Designing homes is what Architects do. No matter how clear a vision you have in your head, an Architect will undoubtedly bring something new and unexpected to your project. With 5+ years of university training coupled with on the job training, Architects are exposed to a wealth of design and construction techniques you’ve probably never dreamed of. Using an architect for your new home or building project means having a talented creative mind on the case — and that means endless exciting possibilities!
7. Your home will be tailored to your site
An Architect designed house is tailored to the site, taking into account slope, orientation, neighbouring houses, views, breezes and privacy. This means you’ll get the greatest possible value and enjoyment out of your block, making the most of both its natural and built surroundings.
How much does an Architect cost?
Perhaps one of the most pressing factors in choosing to hire an architect is the cost. So, how do architects charge for their services? There are three different ways an architect can charge for their services:
- Percentage Fees
Percentage fees, as the name suggests, involve calculating the Architect’s fees as a percentage of the construction cost excluding GST. This is the most traditional and common method architects use to charge for their services. The percentage fee varies according to the services the Architect provides.
- Lump Sum Fees
A lump sum is a set amount of money agreed upon by the architect and client based on the specific services being performed within a well-defined, fixed scope. Lump sum fees are suitable for projects where the design is already resolved by the Client.
- Time Charge Fees
A time charge fee arrangement involves the Architect billing the Client on an hourly basis, similar to the way most lawyers charge for their services. This arrangement allows for changes to the scope or design of the work.
Architects may use one, two or all three of these fee structures depending on the client and the nature of the project. The Architects fees represent a very small percentage of the overall project cost.
“If you think hiring an expert is expensive try using an amateur”Red Adair
It’s an old cliche, but the phrase “you get what you pay for” rings true when it comes to hiring an Architect. If you want a highly-skilled professional to bring value to your home in the form of an attractive, unique design, optimised functionality and increased environmental sustainability and a house that’s built to your exact specifications, then the answer to the question “Should I use an Architect?” is a resounding yes.
The biggest expense on any project is typically the construction costs. Things like changes during the build, lack of information and works not included in the Contract can all result in large cost overruns.
If you’re feeling uncertain, simply talk to an Architect. No one is better qualified to explain the benefits of architectural design than an Architect themselves.