Choosing between an architect, building designer or draftsman will often be determined by the scale of your project and the type of work being undertaken, and relevant government planning requirements. Employing an architect, or choosing to go with a building designer or draftsman can be a personal preference, but in some instances you may not have a choice.
So why hire an architect if I'm not required to?
1. In some instances, employing an architect may be essential, as a building designer or draftsman may not have the advanced qualifications needed to undertake certain projects.
It may be compulsory to employ an architect and even an engineer to meet certain aspects of planning approval.
This will vary from country to country, and from state to state.
Contact your relevant municipality to establish this before planning any major renovation.
2. Architects are professionals who have undergone many years of formal training and have subsequent industry experience.
Bigger projects may require the input of an architect to oversee the entire project from start to finish, that is, employing them to provide a ‘full service’.
3. Aside from the obvious design benefits of employing an architect, he or she will have the qualifications, knowledge and experience to professionally plan and execute your project.
Once your budget is established, and your finances are in order, planning is the next essential component of renovating.
"Careful, considerate planning is crucial to the success of any renovation project, regardless of the scale of the project. It will save time, stress and money."
4. Architects offer a range of services, which are worth investigating to establish whether they can be incorporated into your planning.
Engaging an architect for individual parts of the project, rather than employing their full service, is a way of ensuring you get help with the professional aspects of the project you require, while reducing your costs.
An architect for instance may not however be required for smaller projects, but can still be engaged for the purposes of design.
Meet with a few different architects and have them explain the process involved and the estimated costs.
Which brings me to my number one piece of advice for every renovator and for every aspect of every renovation project:
"Do your homework. Investigate everyone involved in your project."
Check everyone's credentials, be they architects, lawyers, accountants or building contractors.
Ask for testimonials, inspect past projects.
Meet them, see whether you can imagine having a good working relationship with them that will endure in good times and bad.
You will be working with these people for a significant amount of time, often at substantial expense. Your renovation requires you to invest your hard-earned money - do your homework.
5. If you choose the option of using a building designer or draftsperson, you may be required to deal directly with local government bodies and their respective planning schemes.
You must know what you are doing, especially in areas with heritage listed homes. If this sounds too stressful, then employing an architect may be the way to go.
6. It may seem like another unnecessary cost, but in fact an architect’s experience and ability to oversee a renovation can make an important and ultimately cost saving contribution to your project.
I enlisted the help of a draftsman on my last project, however in hindsight, given the scale and expense of the project, I believe it would have been more beneficial to have contracted an architect to oversee to project.
Given the large scale of the project, I often felt overwhelmed and I was forced to make decisions often on the spot, without much forethought or planning.
Some of these decisions cost me a significant amount of money, not to mention stress - employing an architect in this case would have eased the stress and saved us money.
Whatever you do, if you're new to renovating, don't go it alone.
Unless you really know your stuff and have done lots of renovating in the past, I think it is essential to engage the services of an architect, building designer, draftsman and even a project manager - unless your project is purely cosmetic.
Just find someone who is clear about what you aim to achieve and who you are confident of being able to work with.
You may choose to employ an architect from the outset, before formulating your own ideas about how the final product should look.
Personally, before engaging the services of anyone, I like to do a great deal of groundwork myself. This way I can establish in my mind a clear vision of what I am trying to achieve.
It depends how involved you wish to be in the project, whether you have specific design ideas or whether you want your architect to present ideas and designs to you.
Renovating with love,