Building an architecturally-designed home is an exciting journey; one that is a collaboration of many people and ideas, culminating in the creation of a unique place that inspires, grounds and is ultimately an expression of you. We are here to help guide you through the building process.
As architects we are here to help you express those ideas, put them down on paper and make them realised. We are here to provide advice and insights into your requirements and to formulate the ultimate expression of your brief. We are also here to guide you through what can be a daunting process from initial design to the finished product.
For the client, the building process can be complex, with regulations, authority permissions, design and documentation of the building’s technical aspects, builder selection and finally construction. We are able to provide you with an understanding of the process, guidance and an assurance on the outcome.
From our experience with client’s concerns we have put together a brief outline of the steps of the building process and what is involved.
1. Initial meeting and brief:
We meet with you to introduce ourselves and to get an idea of your expectations of the project. We look at your site with you and discuss your ideas and what opportunities are available to you. Often we undertake research beforehand if we know the site location and can speak with you about similar, relevant projects we have been involved in and how they addressed the client’s requirements. We can also investigate the local planning requirements and restrictions and inform you of them and the possible impact on the design. We discuss your budget and give you a rough guide of what your project will cost, and if the scale of the project you are after matches your budget expectations. We also discuss our fees, and sub-consultant fees. Our fees are usually based on a sliding scale as a percentage of the budget price; this is then revised once the contract sum is established.
2. Preliminary Design:
Once we have an understanding of your requirements and expectations, we complete a sketch design or concept plans to help clarify your initial brief. This stage happens quite quickly – within a couple of weeks, depending on the complexity of the project. We make sure we address your needs as well as look at the opportunities and restrictions that the site has to offer. We then meet with you and use these plans as a basis for refining the design, expanding the detail and developing ideas. We can also use this time to get a better idea of what you would like your house to look and feel like. We then meet as many times as it takes to get a design that you are happy with, this usually is only one or two more meetings. Once we have a design that you are happy with we discuss the factors that affect cost and agree on a more detailed scope of finishes, extent of building works and other factors. If required we then guide you through the town planning process, as well as review all the other statutory requirements, providing information to those authorities and making applications on your behalf. We also review the design for compliance with the Building Regulations.
3. Detailed design/Documentation:
Once we have reached an agreement on the plans and the look and feel of the building it is time to fill in the details and address some of the more practical concerns.We refine all the small details such as building materials, materials and colours, appliances etc. which is often the most exciting and involved stage for the client. On your behalf we can engage the consultant/s required for the project; most often this is only a structural engineer and Energy rater. We produce images, schedules and drawings for your final review to enable you have an understanding of the level of quality and detail of the project, so that there are no surprises. This level of detail also helps refine the budget before choosing a builder and look at cost options.
4. Builder Selection and Pricing:
Following the completion of the design/documentation stage the project needs to be priced. During the entire design process we provide you with a rough cost estimate so that we can advise you if you are within your budget. You have an option to get a price from just one builder or to go to competitive tender. In most cases we recommend going to tender with three or four builders who we have used in the past and who we know would suit the project, or we can include any that you would like to use. We organise the entire process and give the builders a copy of the drawings and specifications. The builders then provide us with a competitive price, listing all of the sub-trades and the cost of works and the construction period. This process usually takes about 4 weeks. We then compare the builder’s prices and provide to you a recommendation. We explain to you all of the complexities of the pricing and discuss the budget and how it compared to the builder’s price. We can discuss with the builder to see if there are cost saving to be had or scope to be changed. Once you have agreed on a fixed price we then meet with you and the builder and are then able to draw up contracts for signing and arrange the building permit on your behalf.
We recommend the “Australian Building Industry Contracts” (ABIC) which were developed by the Australian Institute of Architects in conjunction with the Master Builders Association. These contracts provide considerable more protection for you, the client in comparison to the Master Builders contract used by most domestic builders and developers. The contract is a Lump Sum contract that means that the contract price will not vary with the rise and fall of material and labour costs. There is however scope for unexpected site conditions and for you to add or remove items from the contract during the process.
5. Contract Administration:
Contract administration is a service that we offer to ensure that the project is built to a high quality and that you have our expert advice on hand to understand and to provide solutions to questions the builder may have. Architect designed house are also bespoke and as such we also ensure that the specialist details we have designed with you are realised as first imagined. We evaluate the quality and value of works completed when the builder makes a claim to ensure you are getting value for money. We also provide expertise on the contracts that you and the builder enter into and ensure that you understand your rights under the contract. In essence we streamline the process of construction, providing professional advice and expertise, making your experience as relaxed as possible.
We work with you through the entire construction process and after you move in to ensure that your home lives up to your expectations when you turn the key and after you have lived in it.
In summary, using the professional services of an architect provides you with the opportunity to realise a home that takes advantage of the site and fully embodies your personal requirements.We are there to guide you through the process and make it an enjoyable experience for all. We look forward to working with you on your project.