Ten things to consider before hiring an architect
Are architects worth the money?
Aside from the sale price of the finished project, Toby says time and stress avoided is another important consideration when thinking about engaging an architect. “Building or renovating can be stressful so our goal is to make life easier for the client,” he says. “An architecturally designed home will provide more value [when selling] than one that isn’t, but an architect also allows you to have a conduit to achieve what you want. Whether that’s dealing with town planning permits or building contractors, it can be a minefield if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Another major benefit of hiring an architect, Toby says, is that they bring a fresh perspective and might be able to offer design suggestions that, unless you work in the industry, you wouldn’t even consider.
“What we need is the brief, the budget, the site and the vision,” Toby says. “Our job is to tie that all together and take it to the next level.”
What is the difference between an architect and a draftsman?
Whether you should enlist the help of an architect or draftsperson has long stumped keen home renovators or would-be builders. The difference between the two, Toby explains, comes down to training. “Firstly, to be a registered architect, you need to have completed a minimum five years of university plus practical experience – an architecturally designed building has historically always added enormous value to a project,” he says. “Secondly, being a registered architect means you can legally administer a building contract, which helps to take the liability off the client.”
While a formal qualification is not required for certification, many draftspeople will still have completed a level of study (two to four years) and are knowledgeable on all technical aspects of the building and design process. However, there is no license required for drafters to offer technical drawings or architectural or drafting services. This often makes them a more affordable option up front.
Is this house/block suitable for my build/design vision?
Once a client decides they want to engage an architect, Toby says the first thing they will do is assess the site. He uses landchecker.com.au, which maps every property in Victoria, to check whether there are zoning restrictions, heritage overlays or any other development constraints. “The architect will work out what the constraints are and then start the design process with those in mind.”
Toby says it is also the architect’s role to advise a client when something won’t work. “But there is nearly always a solution,” Toby says. “You might have 10 boxes but can only tick eight or nine. That’s still a successful project.”