Choosing an Architect
Choosing the right architect for your project is crucial in ensuring that your vision for your home is ultimately realised, from the sketches and diagrams that often form the early vision and concept of a building to the finished product. The architect is primarily responsible for realising this vision, so they need to understand very clearly the needs of you and your family - given that they are tasked with transforming your ideas into a very permanent reality – your home. Home Improvement Pages decided to speak to an industry insider, Alex Roth of Roth Architects, for some practical tips on dealing with and choosing an architect…
What is the single most important aspect of any client/architect relationship?
“Aside from trust and good rapport, for us it is a culmination of understanding the client’s brief, the council’s requirements and what is achievable within the client’s budget.”
As a client what questions should I be asking an architect at our first meeting?
“Prospective clients should ask about the processes/method the architect will be adopting - everyone works differently and different styles will suit different clients.”
Is a client brief essential at the outset?
“A client brief is really helpful when starting a project, but its also ok if you don’t have one, we can always help you develop a brief that defines what you want in your project.”
What is the first step in securing the services of an architect?
“Completing a formal Client Architect Agreement - this is designed to clarify the engagement, set out the services to be carried out and to protect both parties.”
How important is it to view an architect’s work?
“It’s very important to experience the spaces and past work of an architect, as photographs can be misleading. Visiting in person allows you to have a close look at how the architect has responded to the brief.”
Briefly describe the typical stages in the design process from the perspective of a client
“The process starts with developing a brief and some sketch designs. A straightforward process would involve an initial client meeting onsite to discuss the project and goals. We would then progress into sketch design – working through the design with the client until a level of resolution is reached. Council processes are then undertaken, usually in the form of a Development Application and Construction Certificate. Once these are approved we can then proceed to Construction Documentation and arrange for builders to tender on the project.”
What are the most common pitfalls to look out for from a client’s perspective?
“We find that there are two common pitfalls - inadequate preparation of the brief with the architect and not completing full contract documentation.”
How significant are timeframes when it comes to agreeing to work with a client?
“It’s really important that processes are considered and prioritised to a working timeframe for both the client and architect. There are always going to be things that slow down the project and its up to the architect and client to work around these.”
How would I know that an architect has all the necessary formal qualifications?
“The best way to locate an architect that will meet your requirements is via the AIA’s (Australian Institute of Architects) ‘Find an Architect’ service. This is a database of all architects who have university training, practical experience and registration.”
What about references?
“It’s always a good idea to contact references, talking to the previous clients about their experiences also gives you another perspective and further understanding of what you can expect from the architect.”
Finally, what is your design philosophy?
“In simple terms we design for light, space, proportion, sustainability and functionality. We are very strategic in our approach and methodical in our understanding and translation of our clients needs. We are always looking to create beautiful buildings that integrate with their environment seamlessly."