When you are considering the construction of a new house or adding an extension of any significance to your existing home it is almost inevitable that you will require the services of an architect. The architect is an essential member of the team of professionals who will be involved in the project and because their involvement begins at the very outset, it will be the key to a successful conclusion. This is because it is the architect who, through the drawings that he or she produces, translates the ideas of a property developer or home owner about the construction that they wish to be built into a working model on which the builders and all other involved tradesmen can base their work.
The Architect’s Work
As we have already stated, the architect is involved in a building project from the outset. The first stage of the architect’s involvement will be in the planning process, consequent upon which the drawings of the planned project will be produced. This is only the start of the architect’s work, however, because his involvement will continue throughout the whole of the project, right through to completion. The architect will need to be aware of local and national regulations that affect the building, will need to be aware of any environmental regulations and should be able to liaise easily with all the other professionals involved during his oversight of the project. He needs also to be aware of financial factors, with the ultimate aim to be to produce a design that matches the developer or house owner’s requirements for the most economical price.
Once a detailed design for the building project has been prepared a builder will need to be engaged to carry out the proposed works if this has not already been arranged. An experienced local architect will be able to provide useful input into the issue of which particular building contractor should be engaged for a particular type of project. Certain architects work as part of a construction team but most architects with any experience will have worked alongside independent builders and formed an idea of the quality of their work and their working practices. In that sense, the architect is in an ideal position to advise on the selection of the builders.
Because building projects can be quite fluid, requiring the submission of amended plans and drawings throughout the process, the continuing involvement of the architect is essential if everything is to run smoothly.
In addition to producing the drawings for the project, which are almost always produced using computer assisted design software, the architect will also prepare any planning application that has to go before the local authority and a Plan of Work. The latter is a document that sets out the planned phases of the project and provides for staged payments upon satisfactory completion of each of them. The architect will be responsible for assessing whether the stages have been completed satisfactorily and for signing them off, thereby releasing staged payments to the builder and any associated tradesmen. This process is carried out in close conjunction with the developer or house owner who will be responsible for releasing the payments.
Selecting an Architect
The most effective way of selecting an architect is through the recommendations of friends, family or acquaintances who have had reason to employ their own architect in the past. In the case of builders and developers, it is likely that they will already be well informed about the qualities of local architects and will be able to choose one from their list of preferred providers. The architects fees should be negotiated and agreed in advance, as should the timing f payments. Architects are professional persons who are required to carry out their role to a reasonable professional standard, affording protection to those employing them against shoddy work on what may be an extremely important and expensive building project.