A Guide to Understanding the Role of an Architect

The role of an architect is extremely varied and largely depends on the client an architect is working with. When it comes to hiring an architect to re-design your home, how much they cost, and the benefits associated with hiring an architect, are not the same as if you were hiring an architect to landscape a garden.

There are many options available to you when you want to re-design your home and change things up a little. In fact, it is not just an architect you will need; many different professionals play a role here, including interior designers and building designers.

1: What Is an Architect?

Becoming an architect is no easy process – it is a profession which only accepts the best of the best
and students spend years in university followed by years of practical experience before they can call
themselves architects. Before a would-be architect can practice the trade, they are required to sit
examinations further to their education and experience; it is not a profession or a job you can just
walk into.

An architect is tasked with all aspects of designing a building, including the setting of a commercially
viable budget in addition to drawing up plans. In a way, architects are consultants who are skilled
and knowledgeable to help you with all aspects of putting together a new build, from the initial idea
all the way through the building process and beyond and can even provide consultation and help
with the legal side of things.

2: Why Hire an Architect?

You wouldn’t represent yourself in court, so why would you try and build your own home? In the
housing market’s current state, houses are often being sold more and more on their unique designs;
location alone is no longer the major selling point and boring, typical old-fashioned-style houses are
not selling as well as their more modern counterparts, which have often been specially designed for
an individual client.

An architect can also see the project in a way you cannot. An architect can best use the land your
home will be built on to best use its resources, take advantage of any scenic views, energy usage,
and even make the best use of the sunlight and accommodate all these considerations into the
build’s final design.

By hiring an architect, you are also providing yourself with a high level of protection. In Australia, an
architect is a regulated professional whose work is held up to very high legal standards. In addition
to this, an architect’s work is a piece of copyrighted ‘art’ and cannot be copied by somebody else –
what is cooler and more impressive than having a truly unique house which cannot be found
anywhere else?

3: Choosing an Architect

There are many things you need to consider when it comes to choosing an architect, and we are
going to look at all of these individually. It is not an easy process and it can take several months, and in some cases years, to find the right architect to build your dream home. Here are three things to
keep in mind:

  1. Cost: An architect’s cost will depend on a number of factors, including experience, reputation, your job and its requirements, and how in-demand your chosen architect is. Building a house is not a cheap job and you will need to make sure you are paying the right price for an architect – at the end of the day, they are professionals and you should not skimp out and choose the cheapest one. As the saying goes; you get what you pay for.
  2. Design Style: It is your dream home and you should not settle for anything less than what you have been fantasising about. Each architect will have a different design and style, so you will need to find an architect who is able to deliver-up on your dreams and help you curate the right design for your home. The design process is long – sketches and designs take a long time and it is a very back-and-forth process of ironing out the finer details. Then, when you have a basic idea, these need to be developed into detailed drawings and computer- rendered imagery.
  3. Hourly Rates vs Fixed-Fee vs Percentage: Each architect has their own preferred method of being paid. Some charge by the hour, some charge for a fixed-fee project, and some charge a percentage fee of the project’s end-value. When deciding on an architect, you need to get this out of the way as early as possible, so you can come to an agreement on payment and avoid being stung by any surprises later down the line. Any work which is completed outside the scope of any agreement(s) made between yourself and your architect will likely cost more money, so be clear about exactly what you want before you sign anything.

Choosing an architect to build your dream home is not an easy task. Prior to entering any agreements and committing to a single architect, make sure you have covered all bases and discussed everything there is to discuss. When you are happy with your chosen architect and his or her individual style, make sure to cross-reference and check their qualifications to ensure that you are working with a certified, regulated architect – there are many scammers out there and everything is not always as it seems.

Before you meet with your chosen architect to discuss the niceties of the project, make sure you have prepared a clear and non-ambiguous brief which your architect can use to get an idea of your project. Be straight-up, concise, and clear about your desires and expectations, as this will avoid any disputes and ensure that the end-project is exactly what you envisioned. Keep track of all meetings and discussions you have had with your architect, so you can refer back further down the line should things not go as expected. Most importantly, have fun. Watching your dream home being built is an exhilarating experience over which you have ultimate control… make the most of it!

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