We tell you how it is

When we are first approached by prospective clients, we have found that few fully understand what an architect does. Many interview draftspeople and volume builders also, and find it difficult to distinguish between the various levels of expertise and design engagement on offer. Invariably, a large part of our first discussion is devoted to explaining how our services differ from those of other building designers and why there is great value in the cost of on architect.

What follows is the 5th of ten articles that explore the question: why engage an architect? An archive of the series can be accessed here.

5. We tell you how it is


The building industry has a reputation for being filled with sly half-truths and good intentions that go unfulfilled. If you’ve ever had a plumber tell you “I’ll come around tomorrow” and never call back, or a volume builder lure you with promises of rock bottom prices but then reveal the cost of all the hidden extras, you’ll know what we mean.

Building a house is like navigating between submerged rocks in a fast-moving river: almost impossible to do without a guide who knows the river like the back of her hand.

An architect is such a guide.

How much does it cost to build? Should you knock down your house and build new, or is renovating a better option? What planning zone and overlays affect your property? What considerations do you need to make for your neighbours? What advice should you seek from specialist consultants? What are the highest performing appliances and fittings on the market? Where can you source the most environmentally sustainable materials? With which building regulations do you need to comply? What are the standard construction technologies in use in Australia? Once you start on site, how often do you need to pay your builder?

These are just some of the questions you’ll need to consider when renovating or building your house.

Unfortunately, you will at times also find yourself embroiled in adversarial relationships: neighbours who think you’re overdeveloping your land; specialist consultants who don’t meet their deadlines; subcontractors whose work is of substandard quality. Such interactions are even more challenging as the other party is almost certainly more knowledgable about your dispute than you are.

Architects have significant expertise across all phases of the design and construction process. We appreciate the importance of strong creative vision from start to finish; are familiar with town planning and building regulations; understand the work of allied professionals like structural engineers and landscape architects; and can engage meaningfully with the builder during construction. There is no-one better equipped to understand the opportunities and limitations of your site and brief, and to design your house to navigate every requirement.

Image source:

  1. Truth, author’s own image.

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