The design and building process comprises seven stages common to all architectural firms. They are:
We begin by listening to your specific wants and needs. We generally do this initial consultation for no obligation to us or the client. This brief should be seen as something which can and will evolve. The more information we have, the better. We might talk about the project’s proposed budget and timing, and indicate which other parties might need to be involved. From there, we ask for a contract agreement for architect services that covers cost, services provided and fees. Once engaged, we assemble all relevant data about the construction site. This might include the Certificate of Title, drainage plans, and zoning and town planning information. Issues with regard to existing planting, water courses and soil type may also be addressed. We meet the client at the site and gain more information about its idiosyncrasies such as weather effects, driveways, noise, sewerage services and neighbours.
The conceptis what we do without the client seeing. The brief is analysed and a site analysis prepared. We prepare a feasibility report and concept drawings then report to the client on any design constraints. We might draw a floor plan and two or three perspective sketches to show alternative solutions. This is another opportunity to develop the project.
We prepare a preliminary sketch design, which reflects your brief, any physical or council restrictions on the site and your budget. The more information provided, the closer we will be to a solution at this stage. We assess the financial viability of the design to budget and, if requested, call in a quantity surveyor to give an independent cost estimate. Predicting the final cost of a project, particularly if it involves renovation work rather than new building, can be difficult. Layers of information are added at each part of the process. We discuss the sketch and give the client time – as much as they need – to get back to us with minor changes.
At this stage, we address any issues arising from the preliminary sketch and develop the design to a stage from which detailed design and specifications can be prepared. This design details how the building might be put together and will be presented with dimensions on floor plans, elevations, perspective sketches of interior and exterior, and a preliminary schedule of material and finishes. We can also revise the cost estimate and report on resource consent issues.
The detailed design is based on an approved developed design. These “working drawings” are created so the builder can submit a contract price or tender to build and we can apply for building consent. We prepare extra construction and finishing details – like windows, kitchen, bathrooms – schedules and drawings and specifications.
A number of building contractors are usually invited to competitively tender for the project – that is to submit their proposed costs and time to carry out the job. Contract documents are drawn up for signing. We strongly advise clients to take the risk out of the procurement and building process by taking advantage of our full service from inception to project completion. We believe this continued involvement, particularly in light of increased government bureaucracy and the leaky house syndrome, significantly reduces the risks and results in a better final product. We recommend clients discuss these risks with us before ending the client-architect relationship.
Contract Administration & Observation
The architect’s role is twofold: observing the construction and administering the contract. Once construction is under way, we visit the site regularly to observe the progress of the works and ensure the design is constructed according to specifications and to its original intent. Among many other tasks, we maintain records, liaise with and co-ordinate consultants, receive and review payment claims from contractors and issue variations to enable the project budget to be maintained. Once construction is complete, we follow up with the building contractor any items that need completing or putting right as determined in the conditions of contract.