Do I need an architect? / by Maker d+a

5 Questions you should ask yourself before hiring an architect:

You’ve been dreaming big, exploring options, and you're getting ready to build your first home. Or perhaps you’re expanding your business and you’re wanting to establish new office space. You may have put together a folder of ideas and magazine clippings, or even started a Pinterest board. Up until recently, it’s all been talk, but now you mean business and you’re ready to look for an architect. The problem is, you’re not completely sure how to do that. You may have asked a friend if they know of anyone or have simply fired off some searches on Google. At any rate, you need information.

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Dreaming Big?

Hiring an architect is a highly personal decision, so it’s best not to jump into it.

If you’re trying to make a decision on the way forward with a new project, this article aims to give you some insight into exactly what you’ll need to focus on when deciding whether or not it’s time to hire a professional. It will also advise you on which professional you’ll need to hire. Hiring an architect is a highly personal decision, so it’s best not to jump into it. Take a break, grab a coffee and notepad, then ask yourself these five questions:


1. What do I want?

Knowing what you want will help you to be more decisive about who you need to hire for your project. In South Africa, there are different types of architectural professionals that deal with different types and scales of projects.

The list below simply outlines the 3 categories of architectural professional in South Africa:

1.Architect – designs and works on everything from houses to hotels to airports. Creative visionary and team leader. Aims to deliver something special. Has a high level of design skill and technical ability.

2.Technologist – typically designs and works on houses, light industrial and other small projects. Trained in basic design theory, but highly skilled in technical drawing.

3.Draftsman – works on simple space planning, small houses, home extensions, carports and other small projects.

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Hiring a professional

“In South Africa, there are different types of architectural professionals that deal with different types and scales of projects.”

Architectural firms sometimes employ a range of these professionals with different roles on projects, with the architect traditionally fulfilling the role of designer and team leader. Technologists and draftsmen are most often responsible for technical drawing work and municipal legwork. Some companies will even specialize in specific types of projects, for example: warehouses or hospital designs.

So when considering your project think about what you want out of it. If you’re looking for delight and a magical atmosphere in your building, then hire an architect. If you’re looking to do a simple garden extension with four walls and a roof, then you probably won’t need an architect. In that case, you will probably want to phone a draftsman.

2. Why do I want it?

Are you dreaming of a cosy home for your family? Are you hoping for a healthy and happy work environment for your employees? Or are you imagining a space where you feel like you’re on a permanent holiday? What is motivating you to initiate this project? Understanding what you want from your project will help you to define the parameters and to add focus to the end goal. It will also help you to give your architect clarity in order that he can focus his attention on what is truly important to you.

3. How motivated am I to see this project through?

When undertaking a building project, the time frames are long, but the reward is great! If you’re not motivated to pursue it, it will become a burden to you. Your architect will want you on board for the journey because there is much to dream about and discuss along the way!


4. What is my budget for this project?

You might have some idea of what you’d like to spend on your project. This might be a realistic figure, or it might be guesswork at this point. The realities of construction are such that things tend to cost more than you might expect! Besides the cost of your building, you need to consider that there will be professional fees to pay. Your project may require an architect, land surveyor, quantity surveyor, engineer, geotechnical engineer and perhaps even an energy consultant. Do you want luxurious finishes or a pared down raw industrial experience? These components will have an impact on the budget. You might need help determining what your budget should be. So if you’re not sure what your budget is or should be, then don’t worry. You don’t need to be the expert, just ask your architect – they are trained to assist you with shaping and controlling this. Just be aware, though, that building things costs money.


5. When do I want this project completed by?

Progress and the timelines can be influenced by your motivation to see the project through. As you may have realised, time frames are long and good things take time, but things can move at a comfortable pace if you are committed to being involved. Get ready to take part in the process and enjoy the experience. The dreaming-up of your building will take you and your architect several weeks, perhaps a few months depending on your availability and ideas that come to you in the shower or in the dead of night. You’ll want your architect to get it right on paper before it’s cast in concrete on site. The technical drawing process will also take time. That’s all before the municipality spends a lengthly amount of time scrutinising the stack of drawings that your architect will eventually submit. From your first meeting with your architect, it can take 6 months or more before your project can start being built.


Want, money and time.

If you are able to answer the questions around these key points, you will already be closer to understanding your vision, potential and motivation for your project, and you will be well equipped to make a decision on picking the right architect for the job!

Manage to answer these questions? Have they helped, or are you still needing some guidance?


Or… just call us if you’d prefer

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