Why and How You Should Engage With an Architect
Author: PUJA (B) Academy Sdn Bhd
For most families, building a home may be their largest expenditure. In Brunei, the option of designing and building a custom house is the generally preferred method. On the other hand, watching your old home being renovated and transforming before your eyes can be just as exciting as constructing your very own, new house.In these situations, the architect plays one of the most crucial role in ensuring a fulfilling outcome.With the structuring of his plan, the Architect will dictate the ultimate appearance and function of your home, as well as the financial cost and emotional toll involved in its construction.
Before appointing a Registered Architect it is necessary for one to understand the range of services an Architect has to provide. In Brunei, it is a law to appoint a Registered Architect to accompany you through the series of processes. Architects can provide a comprehensive list of services – and these services are often broken into several phases. On a standard level, their services throughout the whole process of building (or re-building) or renovating usually include Schematic Design, Design Development, Government Approvals, Construction Documentation, Tendering and Construction Administration. They will even appoint qualified people such as Registered Civil & Structural Engineers, Mechanical & Electrical Engineers, and Quantity Surveyors on your behalf. For Registered Architects, it is their job to understand the process involved in the design and the construction of your home.
There are many benefits of hiring a Registered Architect, and your experience of these benefits will depend largely on the services they fulfill for you, as well as your relationship with each other. What we will be discussing here are only some of the major advantages you could be enjoying.
Firstly, by hiring a Registered Architect, you, as the owner, now have an agent who is contractually responsible for keeping an eye on the contractor and workmanship throughout the entire project. But there is definitely more to it than that; when it comes to dealing with the contractors, an Architect is also capable of providing the following advantages to the clients:
- Recommending qualified contractors to cater to the job.
- Employing recognized contracts which favor owners over the contractor.
- More detailed plans and specifications, as well as the provision of clear guidance to contractors and clients. With the presence of architects, it will be easier for contractors to understand what they are tendering for. On the other hand, you, as a result, will also have a higher certainty in what you are getting.
- An Architect also handles the tough aspects of contract negotiations on your behalf – allowing you to maintain a friendly, cooperative relationship with your contractor.
- Your interests will surely be protected! Unlike other parties, Registered Architects are covered with Professional Indemnity Insurance which helps to prevent dissatisfied clients from suffering financial loss.
You will also be given the satisfaction of having better designs in your construction work. Qualified and well-experienced architects often produce more interesting and creative design work and features; such as a highly functional floor plan, good natural lighting and ventilation, good integration with the site, and many other aspects. Other design benefits also include:
- The Architect’s knowledgeability in the detailing and methods of construction. This makes it easier for you to consider new trends in design concepts, such as Minimalism and going Green
- Lesser risk in design errors, which is common with inexperienced designers or draught persons.
- A Registered Architect will also come up with well written design specifications, and this ensures that all materials and workmanship conform to or exceed the industry standards.
However, it is also important for you to know that appointing an Architect may also have its downside. But with careful selection, the risks of these problems can be minimized.
In doing so, finding the right Architect that can tailor to your vision and demands is key. Architects are generally artistic in nature, and are drawn to the field for their love of design. But they also come with a diverse range of strengths, backgrounds and interests. Some are energy and green building enthusiasts, some are more focused on the engineering and construction side of the entire process, and some are planning and organizational experts. Of course, it is rare to find all these qualities in a single individual, which is why you should look for an Architect that best suits your needs. For instance, if the job is simple and your design is ready, you may seek for a more practical minded and project management based Architect to ensure your intentions are built correctly. If, on the other hand, you are looking for an inspired design, you will want to hire a more artistic designer. However, when it comes to design and creativity, you should bear in mind that like any designer or artist, Architects also have their own sense of style – and this may not exactly fit yours. In terms of budgeting and finances, it is also essential to take note that architecture is a commercial business. Therefore, Architects may charge a wide range of fees dependent on their services, track record and size of the project.
On top of that, don’t be afraid to ask your potential Architects questions. Some useful questions which will help you to make up your mind are:
- Can I see some examples of your work?
- How would you approach this project?
- What are some of the largest obstacles on a project such as this?
- How do you charge, and what are your fees?
- How long will this project take for design, building approval and construction?
- Can you give me referrals for contractors or Clients that you have worked with?
Finally, the relationship between the Client and Architect is very personal, and sometimes it involves discussing your habits, your hobbies and your tastes. So if you want the choice to be right, you need to make sure that it suits your situation, your budget and you.
If you are living in Brunei and you are looking for a Registered Architect, you may start your search by going through the country’s list of recommended and suitably qualified professionals to undertake your commission – which you can find by visiting the Ministry of Development’s Website (http://www.mod.gov.bn).