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How to consult your residential architect

The articles provided here are on an ‘as is’ basis and published for you enjoyment only. In no event shall we be liable for any direct or indirect damages or losses suffered with the use of these articles.

 

First of all, be really sure about your choice of architect as you will have a lengthy relationship with this particular individual involving substantial sums of money. Be sure you can trust him or her and that they are willing to listen with great care to all your ideas and requirements. 

Ideally, formulate your design brief before meeting with your architect and be realistic about your budget or other constraints that might exist. This will enable the architect to assess your project realistically and put forward appropriate design proposals, which will help you make suitable choices. 

Your initial brief need not be very extensive but at least contain information regarding broad principles such as the overall size and theme of the structure; define features you want to achieve and key functional or special inter-relationships. If you already own a stand point out specific views or areas of the site that you would like to utilize.

Be realistic and honest about your budget from the start. The relationship between you and your architect should be one of mutual trust and by being dishonest about your budget might only lengthen the design process thus in the end costing you more in architects’ fees to get to a viable solution or you might end up with a house design that is beyond your budget limits and you would not be able to complete the project. 

Try not to impress a specific style or theme or personalize the design to much to your own individualistic needs. These themes are often short lived trends in property markets and certainly put a date stamp on a property and you might have difficulty or not get the best resale value when it comes to the selling of the house. A good style is one that is unique but has longevity and remains contemporary. 

The design of the house does not only have to do with the aesthetics and physical proportions of the building but also, and perhaps even more so, how it flows or functions. Your home must work visually and physically. It is imperative to consider aspects that cannot be seen on the plan, such as the various uses for the different living spaces, the movement through the areas without bumping into furniture or doors that might open onto unsightly areas of the home, the provision of light and ventilation for the various rooms and security of the building. 

When consulting your architect for the first time, remember to try and keep and open mind, the first session with this professional will largely consist of discussion and questions about your requirements and ideas of you house and site and which take priority. During the session the architect might present you with suggestions, ideas or solutions that might sound pleasing to you at first, but might make sense later on in the planning stage. 

When negotiating fees with your architect, you might have a choice to use only a part of his or her service or a ‘full service’. If your budget does not allow the service of the architect, he or she might be willing to provide you with advice and ideas on a hourly basis. The services of an architect is not rigid and most will be willing to taper services to suit you needs or budget.

A full architectural service includes: consultation, design and sketch plans, working drawings for local council approval, construction drawings, obtaining approval from the council, sourcing and appointing contractors and site management.

Written by JB, architect & founder of dreamhouses. Reproductions of this article are encouraged but must include a link pointing to //www.dreamhouses.co.za

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