What You Should Expect from your Architect/Designer
I get calls weekly from people who have worked with a cheap architect/designer ... All the money they think they saved by going with an inexpensive architect has been more than offset by unnecessary delays, roadblocks at Council and of course stress...
I did a quote just over a year ago for a lovely lady who had just bought a house in Helderkruin. Unfortunately I didn't get the job, she went with someone who was 4 x cheaper than me... To date the plans are still not complete and the Client had to go to SACAP's (South African Council for the Architectural Profession) legal department for assistance.
Yes fortunately the person doing the plans is registered, but on looking at his plans I realised that there was no way they would be approved without substantial tinkering. I got told a long time ago, that Plans once lodged at Council are legal documents and it's best to make them as detailed as possible to avoid a) having to draw up construction plans and b) lessen the likelihood of any come backs or misunderstandings.
So when picking a Designer think carefully. If someone is substantially cheaper than other architects / designers quoting this should raise a red flag. At best your job will take a long time as they will be overladen with work or will be looking for more work to sustain themselves.
Building a new House or renovating an existing one is an expensive process, if you are going to spend R500,000 or more on additions or drop R3M on a new house surely you should be very careful about who you hire to get the project going?
Here are some tips for those about to hire an architect/designer :-
1. Make sure they are registered with SACAP - South African Council for the Architectural Profession - https://www.sacapsa.com/default.aspx
2. Get references - ask to see Testimonials and get references from previous clients.
3. Check out your potential Designers on Social Media - do they have a full LinkedIn profile, a Facebook Page (both company and personal) and a blog?
3. Ask to see examples of their previous work - you will be able to see how much detail they go into when drawing up a set of plans.
4. Give them a full brief, make sure they are fully aware of what your projected construction budget is and give them a full list of your requirements.
5. Make sure that you (and your Architect) does their research before starting any drawing work. Are your plans that are lodged at Council fully up to date or are there any 'As Built' structures (including Lapas and Pools) that also need to go on the plans? Have you got a copy of your Zoning Information? Have you got a copy of your Title Deeds? Are there any restrictions/limits/building lines/servitudes that need to be considered when planning your design?
6. Get a timeline - how long will it take to draw up the plans and prepare Council and Construction Documentation? How long will it take for the plans to be approved at Council. Is a Building Line and/or Heritage Application also required? If so then allow an extra 3 months or so for Council Approvals.
7. Are you going to get your Architect/Designer to project manage your build as well as the design work? If so make sure that they have relevant site experience.
8. Does your Architect/Designer have Professional Indemnity Insurance? (This is now a legal requirement). Is the insurance coverage adequate for your project?
9. Ask them how their design process works - I wrote an article a while back outlining my design process - see link below.
and 10. Go with your Gut! Trust your instincts when it comes to hiring a Designer/Architect. Yes cheaper doesn't always mean low quality, but it often does and usually excessive delays are involved in the planning process.
Here are some examples of some final draft plans I finished recently for a Client who is building a new house :-
As you can see the plans are complete but for the final instructions for the type of glazing - the fenestration calculations had not been done. Admittedly you don't have to go into as much detail if for example you are just doing a small addition to your house - however there is still quite a bit of detailing required - see a set I did last week below :-
Further Reading :-
Call Claire - 082 399 0180 / 066 232 3676 (Whatsapp)
I love Architecture. I think it's vital to talk about all aspects of Architecture - whether it be planning, construction, design or green building. I have written 3 E-Books & over 110 articles. Please feel free to let me know if you have any queries regarding architecture, planning & construction & I will assist you.
I am originally from the UK and moved to South Africa in 1999. I started Blue Designs in 2004 after working as a driver for Avalon Construction on a luxury home in the Featherbrook Estate. In my spare time I am an artist and writer.
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Other Articles I have written include :-
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