How do you value good design?
Here we discuss how architecture is costed and how clients are able to procure the most suitable architectural services for their project. Here we aim to respond to common questions which we are often asked when talking about new commissions.
In simple terms how do architects charge for their time?
We estimate how much time it will take to meet the client and understand what they are looking for, consider the client’s brief carefully, work through a number of solutions and gauge the most appropriate options for further exploration. The next stage is to develop our initial design ideas and convey these thoughts to our client.
This is just the first step, but key in getting the rest of the process right. The client is about to invest in our services, and it is essential we get the basics right before spending more time.
For each stage of the process we consider how much time to allocate depending on the complexity of the project. Too little time and it might be poorly judged, too much time will be unduly expensive for the client. It is always a balance, and we often – almost always underestimating the time we want to spend to get the best result. But we always stick to our original proposal, unless the client decides to change the brief and start down a new route.
What does that cost compare with?
In some cases the fee relates to the likely construction cost of the end result. Often a smaller project will take the same time to consider and work through as a much bigger project, and even more if the client is hoping to work within a tight budget. The difficulty is that it might be difficult to reconcile the fee in relation to a small complicated scheme, but at the same time it cannot be rushed.
If a client is trying to choose between two architectural practices what should they think about when deciding who to work with?
You should choose the architect you feel is ‘right’ for you. This may not necessarily be the cheapest offer. Saving a few hundred pounds at the beginning is a false economy if your investment does not give you the result you wanted.
What do you think when a new client says “another practice has quoted half the fee that you have quoted!”
We always think – have they considered your requirements carefully? There is always someone who can do a job for less money but it is a bit like choosing a restaurant – McDonalds will certainly cost less than Roux Fine Dining, they are certainly not offering the same end product or dining experience.
If you think you know what you would like and you just need a drawing service to develop your ideas to submit with a planning application on your behalf then you probably do not need to go to the trouble and expense of engaging an architect. There are a number of CAD bureaux who can provide this service for a few hundred pounds; or these days you can even download an app and do it yourself.
If a client is looking at previous projects completed by an architect, how can they judge good design?
It is one thing to look at photographs, another to actually visit and satisfy yourself about how a built project feels. Ideally you want to see a project that was finished two or three years ago – most completed work looks great when newly finished, but only good quality construction stands up to the test of time. You need to ask yourself – how will I feel if the doors start to fall off the kitchen cupboards in a year’s time or if the wood flooring which was laid in a rush starts to bow?
The skills of a good architect are invaluable
However, if your needs are complex and you find it difficult to envisage quite how to achieve your ideas or you are anxious about design approach, cost implications or the type of construction best suited to your needs then the assistance of a good architect will be invaluable. A good architect will be able to guide you through the process and may be able to help you see a simpler solution which could create enjoyable spaces for the future.