How To Choose An Architect

Dublin architect Simon Hoe talk about working with an architect. How to choose an architect? How much will it cost and when are the fees paid? What information should the client bring to the design process? What happens next?
Architects Services, Extensions, Renovations

How To Choose An Architect?

Can you give any advice about choosing a architect?

  • Qualifications
    "Make sure they are a qualified architect and not just somone who can draw up planning applications - for several reasons. Firstly, so they can advise you on all technical aspects of job and on compliance with all the regulations. Secondly so they will supervise the job during construction and issue a certificate of compliance on completion of construction. Finally, a qualified architect can respond to your needs with creativity and come up with the best solutions."

  • Experience
    "Ask to them bring their portfolio so that you can see photos of projects they've completed. The next stage after that is to see a building they've completed, so you can see the quality of the finish."

  • Do They Listen?
    "Try to establish whether they are going to listen to your needs. The only way for an architect to get a project right is to listen closely to the client's needs."

  • Compatible Styles
    "Interview them to see if you've compatible style. Find out if their style of design appeals to you. If it doesn't, you may run into problems later."

  • Personality
    "Building projects are stressful. Assess whether you will be able to work with the architect on a personal level over a period of several months. It's a good idea to talk to more than one architect before making up your mind."

  • Insurance
    "Make sure they have professional liability insurance."

  • Are They Available During Day
    "If your project is a "nixer" for someone who has a full-time day job, you could run into problems during construction. Inevitably, there'll be issues with the builder or contractual wrangles which have to be sorted out during the day while the builders are on site."

How Much Will It Cost?

How much will the architects fees cost?

"The fees for a full service are generally 10%-12% of the total project budget. So, effectively, the architect and client need to work through at least part of the design process before the project budget and hence the architects fees can be established."

How Much Do Designs Only Cost?

How much do designs only cost?
"Roughly speaking, an architect's work is broken into 3 stages. The first stage is design and planning. The second stage is tender drawing and tendering. The third stage is construction administration. So if a client wants designs and planning only, the fee should be approximately one third of the full service fee."

When Is An Architect Paid

When is an architect paid?
"The common practise is that's there's a stage payment to the architect after each of the 3 main stages are completed i.e. after design and planning, after tendering and after building. I try to bill monthly so that the costs are spread and there's not a big lump payment at the end."

What Should Client Bring To Process?

What Should Client Bring To Process?
"As far as possible, an open mind. It's nice if the client has a central concept - for example they want lots of light or a strong idea about how living space relates to garden."

Say If I Don't Like Designs

Say if I don't like the designs, what then?
"My procedure is first to come up with 2 or 3 alternative sketches. I discuss these in detail with the client - identify which aspects of each design they like or dislike. Then I can come back with refined sketches."

What Happens After Design Process?

What happens after the design process is complete?

"There are three stages of work for an architect. The first stage includes site survey, design and planning application. The second stage is creating tender drawing which include all the information that builders require and tendering the project to a number of builders. The third stage is supervising construction, including advising client on how much to pay builders monthly."

What's Popular in Dublin?

What's popular in Dublin?

"Large rear extensions. The trick with these is to be aware that they can darken the original rooms. The solution is not just to add a "box" to the house but to consider the design of the whole ground floor. For example, light can be brought into the middle of the house through the roof and stairwell."

"Ensuite bathrooms are great (especially when you have three daughters!). They don't have to use much space, but they're very useful."

"Loft conversions. They do offer useful space if the roof is the right size and shape. However, people need to bear in mind that work also needs to be carried out on ground and first floor for compliance with building safety regulations."

Design Likes and Dislikes

Do you have any design likes or dislikes?

"I like traditional architecture and modern design - and I like to see design used to best effect. A good design responds to the clients needs and to the restrictions and opportunities of the site"

"On a design side, I don't like design which replicate another style, for example mock Georgian."

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