Do I need an architect when renovating my house?


When it comes time to start thinking about your renovation or new build, the question of whether or not you would need an architect may cross your mind more than a few times.

There are a number of things to think about before you start to look at engaging an architect. Some questions you may want to ask yourself include do I want to maximise my floor space? Do I want a unique design that's different to all the other houses? Am I after a home office or the addition of a butler's pantry? If you have answered yes to any of these questions then it's fair to say that an architect will be an asset to your renovation goals.

Of course there are many more reasons why using an architect is beneficial to anyone looking at building or renovating. Check out our Podcast with award winning architect Nathalie Scipioni where we delve into these questions and more here.

Planning is such an integral part of any renovation or new build. One area where architects excel is their understanding of the local council and state planning laws. This is such an important skill that they bring to the table and could literally be the difference between your project getting approved or denied. Good architects know when to push the boundaries and what may not be a good idea. With this in the back of their mind and knowing your brief, they will come up with a few different concepts that not only suit your needs but potentially get you more than what you expected. This is extremely important if you know that you will require council approval. Councils appreciate the knowledge and expertise that architects bring and this can help streamline the approval process for you.

If you have a complex design or even a difficult site then an architect is one of the best people to have on your team. While a draftsperson will be able to come up with a general layout and floor plan, an architect working on a complex site will be able to foresee problems with the different concepts they come up with and likely costs involved with things like engineering. A draftsperson is generally used for your cookie cutter based designs and may not have a lot of creativity when it comes to your new design, whereas an architect through their many years of training and experience will use their own creativity to design a home that gives you not just the floor plan and layout you are after but a visually appealing design as well.

There is a lot of misconception that architects are expensive and that they can take up a lot of your initial budget but this is not the case. Whilst there are a large amount of architects out there you can rest assured that there is definitely an architect for every budget. Are you comparing like for like? Although an architect may be more expensive than say a draftsperson, you need to be looking at what you are actually getting as a service and also as an end product. Architecturally designed homes account for a small percentage of all homes in Australia, so if your house is different to your typical cookie cutter home then you can rest assured that the value of your home will increase more over time.

So what is the process if I am thinking of using an architect?

1. Generally speaking when you meet with a few architects for the first time it will be a meet and greet where you talk about your needs, wants and goals for your build or renovation. The architect will ask you a number of questions to better understand your needs and look you are going for to come up with a more detailed scope. From here they will be able to put forward their fee proposal.

2. Once you have selected an architect to engage they will get to work and generally come up with 2-3 concepts based on your brief. The concepts are merely a snapshot of the look you are going for and also the layout.

3. Once you decide on a concept you are happy with, the architect will get to work creating more detailed drawings together with a schedule of finishes which includes the exact materials, colours and quantities being used for construction.

4. After you and the architect are happy with the final design it is time to submit to council for approval. Depending on the type of build or renovation you are undertaking you may need to have a pre DA meeting before submitting your documents.

5. When your plans are approved it is time to tender out your project to a number of builders. When receiving your quotes from the builders it is essential to look at what is included and excluded from their quote so you can compare like for like and make a more informed decision.

6. After you have selected a builder and the construction has started, the architect will generally allow for a number of site visits during the build to ensure it is going according to the detailed documentation. Things can and generally will go wrong and a good architect and builder will be able to trouble shoot together and make decisions on the spot.

7. Once construction has finished you will then have a period of time when the builder generally fixes any defects from the build. You will then receive all of your compliance certificates such as waterproofing, glazing, electrical, plumbing etc.

There is a lot of information to digest and choosing an architect, builder or any other consultant doesn't have to be daunting. Get in touch with us today if you need some assistance with your new build or renovation.

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