Written by Architect Alex English
50 years ago things were so different to what we see now. On a Saturday morning you would roll on down to your local shops to do your weekly shopping. First you would visit the green grocer, the butcher’s shop, across to the bakery, duck into the deli and exit via the newsagency.
Fast forward to today and you will find those 4 different shops and more are now combined into one giant supermarket. A one stop shop to make your shopping experience an express visit is the go, where quality is no longer the driving force, but the price and price only is the consideration.
Well, today’s residential building industry is no different. Giant corporations with the all too familiar ‘design and construct’ label splattered across the hoarding of every corner block are constructing houses, units, and apartments in sub-divisions to the maximum degree. This is a building model with little thought or sensitivity to the environment and low cost price tags dangling the carrot inside the coffin with the chippy and nails waiting along side.
When you ask yourself “Do I really need an architect?”, you should first ask yourself “What sort of home do I want?”.
If you are pursuing an out of the box, mass produced product with an appealing price tag, then you can skip directly past your local Architectural Practice and slide into your project builder office for a pre-boxed home ready to be slapped on your site ASAP.
However, if it is a custom solution you seek, something that responds to your requirements, the environment and surrounding factors, then maybe a quick chat with an Architect may be up your alley. I like to use the analogy of purchasing clothing; is it mass produced, cheap fabric, Kmart type clothing that generally fits okay which you are happy to put up with for the price? This is your project home in a nutshell!
Whereas the architect is a professional tailor, designing you custom clothing that fits like a glove. A tailor who understands the newest materials and techniques used in their industry and the importance of comfort. Sure, it will certainly cost more, at least initially, but you will be rest assured knowing you’ve purchased a quality product that will not begin wearing holes in the near future.
In Australia, to be called an Architect doesn’t just involve finishing your university degree(s), buying a few pens and a laptop. There is a layered approach to an Architect’s registration that forces them to gain experience in a diverse range of skills, resulting in a refined professional who will be ready and able to attack your project with confidence, emotion, intuition, sensitivity and care. This is another important factor to consider when selecting your team. Experience!
A common misconception with architects is that they are only employed on large scale projects. From my experience, it is with the small projects that an architect’s involvement really dominates.
Keep in mind, architects are essentially specialists in design, possessing the ability to maximise opportunities and limit restrictions. The incorporation of clever design, sustainable principles and a well administered contract can save a whole bunch out of your budget. Don’t forget the life cycle cost reductions due to passive conditioning and increased resale value. After-all, there’s a reason why realtors utilise the term ‘Architect Designed’. That’s money directly back into your pocket! I personally have been involved in a number of small, technical renovations, both as an Architect and a Plumber, and can confidently say the results speak for themselves with very happy Clients.
Now, I can understand why Architect curious people can be a little apprehensive when it comes to engaging an Architect. Their initial thought is “this is going to be expensive”, and honestly, they are not wrong, (depending on who you engage). However, it is important to consider the value that an Architect brings to a project. Quality, detail and duty of care are just some factors that I personally take extremely seriously. I have been called onto projects that were initially designed incorrectly, and the cost outlay to rectify the attempted shortcut has outrun what it would have cost to engage an Architect in the first place. Imagine the attitude adjustment those clients went through!
So “Do I really need an Architect?”
Everybody will throw you a different answer of experience that their Mum’s brother’s cousin’s friend had. So I’ll just lay it out for you to do with it what you will. In my humble opinion it is the combination of a quality Architect, competent team of consultants and a conscientious Builder that produces the ultimate package.
By incorporating and utilizing a select team with a strong chemistry, you are able to capitalise on creative, innovative, theoretical and practical qualities. This is where the magic happens! Once these qualities bond together the project is able to adopt a limitless type of approach, to produce superb, breathtaking outcomes.
If you would like to learn more please feel free to get in touch.