About the Architect


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What does an architect do? How to find and hire an architect? How to work with and get the most of your architect? What are their fees? These are some of the common queries that Dalia Sadany addresses in this article about the architect which also includes tips and useful illustrative diagrams.

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About the Architect

  1. 1. 26 Dalia speaks SEPTEMBER 2011 27 In this article I will discuss the most important key player of your team ” The ARCHITECT ” Even if you are working within a tight budget, it does not make good economical sense to cut corners on designer’s fees , I recommend you hire a good professional aware designer. Since talented professionals will help you avoid costly mistakes and can assure that the home you build is ideally suited for the way you live and in every possible means within your desired budget. What is an Architect? The most basic definition of an architect is a professional who is qualified to design and provide advice both aesthetic and technical - on built objects in our public and private projects. But this definition barely scratches the surface of an architects role. Architects serve as trusted advisors, their role is holistic, blending diverse requirements and disciplines in a creative process, architect to get a builder/ tract home as organized but gives the best value for while serving the public interest and your end result, you use an architect so money. This is accomplished, in part, by addressing health and safety matters. that dreams can be visualized, created eliminating useless and poorly planned THE ARCHITECT and built. An architect brings many spaces, and by specifying materials and An Architect is an individual experienced creative and innovative ideas to the table. verifying building costs. in architectural design process and Not just following trends but creating construction, they are licensed them around you and your home. They To do this, they coordinate the services professionals in designing buildings, and have the ability to help you see things of the different engineers (civil, they have a university degree in that field, about a home or your way of living that electrical, sanitary etc) to ensure that "Dalia Sadany Ask Magazines design consultant, Cheif Designer & Founder of and have completed lengthy internships you may never have considered before. the design works and is buildable. Dezines Architecture & Interiors, Managing Director & Partner of Divine Contracting for years, in all diversified branches from Your home is your sanctuary, private They prepare a comprehensive set design to construction detailed studies retreat and castle; its the architects’ job of design/ construction drawings is dewelling into the world of Architecture, Interior Design and Contracting." to site execution of work. This diversity to bring it to fruition. and supplement it with well written means that architects can see possibilities specifications, BOQs which are the and find solutions to all needs. Perhaps, it would be best to describe tender documentation required to In the previous article we discussed how to start planning building your dream home, so by now you have the plot architects as conductors who orchestrate execute the work. The construction of land, done your preliminary financial assessment of approximately how much you are willing to invest in your Architects do not just draft up house and takes the lead in coordinating all drawings and specifications produced project and on the threshold of the most relevant stage which is teaming up your crew. plans for the contractor to build. An instruments, reconciling all engineering by the Architect should illustrate exactly architect works with you. They try to forms for a building or other structure, the building the Client expects. We also discussed thoroughly the following three methods of going about turning your dream home into reality understand your needs and collaborate mastering the sense of awareness for any and explained the pros and cons of each method. with you to create a design or vision of off-key note , into a perfect harmonious These set of drawings will be very your project/ home. You dont go to an symphony of an inhabited sculpture . technical and include very detailed A. You act as your own architect and contractor plans, elevations and sections. They B. You act as your own architect and hire a professional contractor What service do Architects provide? will be dimensioned to indicate the C. You hire both the architect and contractor Architects work closely with owners to size, height, depth, etc. Also included make sure that the project design meets are callouts pointing to drawing details their needs, is functional, economical that communicate to the contractor So I will elaborate on the third choice where you have chosen to follow my motto of hiring "pros to do pro jobs" and safe ,They can even assist with site the different assemblies required. It and hire both the architect and contractor. selection at first .Architects are involved is important to note, that the more from the earliest stages of a building information provided in these drawings To my knowledge the differentiation of the different role players in any project is not very knowledgeable to project, which starts with developing to the contractor the more detailed he everyone , and immense mix-ups occur to owners in the process of fulfilling their dream project whether a multi- ideas with the client, establishing budgets, has to present his bid accurately. This in million dollar project or a personal residential property that is why I would start this trip by emphasizing the roles of assessing the needs of the building. One turn reduces the possibility of change key players in the execution of any building as well as the criteria to choosing and handling these role players and of the most important benefits of having orders which requests to increase their the elaborate channels and methods of contracting to reach the ultimate goal of perfection in executing any job. an architect is space planning. Good fees, because of information that was not space planning not only helps one feel included in the first place. ASK SEPTEMBER 2011
  2. 2. 28 Dalia speaks SEPTEMBER 2011 29 Part of your costs for your project will • Check out online directories, for the websites be the design fees and naturally you of Architects. would be worried about the architect • Check out specialized magazines for you end up working with. That actually information’s about architecture. is a key point to consider, the "working • Check out a literature as in a portfolio that relationship" you develop with your describes the firms qualifications and architect not only for design purposes, experience. but also because he or she will be your representative throughout the project. After you have prepared your short list of possible architects, you You will be working with them for a good need to follow these procedures. deal of time so having rapport and good communication is a vital key point. 1. Call prospective architects. Find out whether they would be interested in your project. Talking to your architect enables you to 2. Meet with several prospective architects. verbalize your needs and desires for your 3. Confirm that the architect you are meeting project. It helps the architect understand is the person who will actually work on your where you are coming from and to project. respond appropriately. Your home is a 4. Determine your architects design philosophy. very personal and private part of your 5. Ask how long the project will take. life, bringing in an architect to become 6. Discuss fees and anticipated construction part of this process requires a relationship costs. built on trust. Remember that when you 7. Ask for references from past clients. Find work with the right architect, its a home out how past clients feel about their new you are designing and not just a house home. 8. Visit at least one project by your prospective Therefore its advisable to make a short list architect. Ask the owners about any of Architects via the following channels; problems that may have been encountered In addition to producing technical 5- Using software packages such as during the design and construction of the drawings, the architect should also Computer Aided Design (CAD) to project. provide rendered drawings, whether present drawings, as well as colored • Ask friends, neighbors, and co-workers 9. Interview prospective architects at their changes. To prevent confusion, always during the design phase and site plans or elevations, as well as 3D illustrated presentations and /or 3D max about their architects. offices, if possible. go through your architect inspections during the construction colored drawings of the project showing presentations • Also check with contractors you might know 10. Plan to spend at least one hour on your phase. The fee structures are typically the design and the materials used for 6- Producing detailed workings drawings about the best architects they have worked first meeting with a prospective architect. These tips will help you work with your based on a percentage of construction presentation and client approval. with to find the names of architects who architect as you plan your building or value, a visit rate or a fixed lump sum and quantity specifications(BOQs) designed projects similar to the one you plan. remodeling project. fee. Combinations of these structures 7- Specifying the nature and quality of How to work with an Architect? They also help you find the right materials required Provide your architect with as much are also common. Generally, architects contractor, work closely with them 8- Preparing tender applications and information as possible, invite them to 1. Explain your needs and desires in detail. use a fixed fee for The first component on site, guides the Client though the presentations (i.e. all the necessary 2. Listen to your architects ideas. ;the phase of the work that they have see the site or send them digital photos, building and design processes, and acts 3. Ask how long the project will take. the most control over, such as the documents for tenders) discuss your proposed construction 4. Discuss fees. preparation of design, and use a fixed as the Clients agent or representative 9- Preparing drawings and documents budget (remain open minded to an 5. Unless you already know your preferred with the Contractor during construction for permits approval architects comments regarding your rate for the second component which is style, ask your architect to guide you to maintain the design and quality 10- Helping choosing the appropriate budget), clarify if you have a preferred through all different styles until you discover the phases that are less predictable, like of your project and be your advocate contractor ,and negotiating with him style, mention your preferences for your preferrance. site supervision. Generally the architect throughout the entire process, ensuring 11- Project managing and co- a sustainable home, etc. The more 6. Agree on a construction budget. or their representative makes one visit that works are carried out to specific coordinating the work of contractors information you provide, the better able 7. Review your architects detail drawings. per week unless there is a problem and standards and, above all, ensuring that 12- Regular site visits to check on they are to develop their designs. When These will include specific information their presence is requested on site. the building is sustainable, functional progress, ensuring that the project is ranging from cabinet knobs to plumbing your “Avant projet “ is done and your and aesthetically pleasing. fixtures. Request changes if needed When you sit with your Architect you running on time and to budget architects calculates the approximate 8. With your architects guidance, choose a 13- Resolving problems and issues that budgeting for your project and it exceeds can have an approximate idea at first of building contractor. From my extensive experience in the field, arise during construction how much you were willing to invest, the construction cost in a very simple 9. Allow your architect to negotiate a contract stay alert and make sure your agreement 14- Supplying any altered drawings discuss with your architect alternative with the contractor. method, you calculate your built up with your architect , abides him to the during the construction process construction methods, maybe , using 10. Keep talking and listening. area, multiply it by the number of floors following points; 15- Acting as the owner representative alternative feasible materials or ask your add to it an extra floor which is the cost in matters of dispute with contractor architect for ideas. Remember you are not just of the foundations and then multiply it 1- Can assist in site selection Basically controlling a project from constructing a building you by the factor cost per meter squared for 2- Discussing the objectives, start to finish concrete and brick work, which is usually Keep the lines of communication are building A HOME . requirements and budget of a project open. Falling back on my experience a very well known fixed figure that 3- Consulting with other professionals How to choose an Architect? where I play the role of an Architect How to Pay an Architect? only varies according to market cost of about the design Selecting an architect probably is not in some projects and the contractor in Architect fees in Egypt are generally cement, iron, bricks and other building 4- Preparing and presenting feasibility an easy task for anyone considering a others immense problems occur when split into two components by phase – materials at the time. reports and design proposals to the client; remodel or new custom home design. you go straight to the contractor for preparing the project design documents ASK SEPTEMBER 2011
  3. 3. 30 Dalia speaks SEPTEMBER 2011 31 To give you an approximate margin The design phase and its for calculating the Architects fees, here is a simple rule; components A- Fixed fees are usually based on an a To simplify matters for you I have decided projects allocated construction cost to present the Architects design & and can range between 10 to 15 % of supervision responsibilities as well as the new construction of residential projects drawings you are expecting to receive depending on the cost, size and in your design package in the following my numerous interviews with clients, I What you complexity of the project. Renovation two diagrams. have raised a talent in knowing exactly projects typically command higher who runs the show in the design decision percentages, as high as 15-22%. Since The Architect is definitely the process and eventually skillfully divert B- As for the fixed rate per visit, this is usually calculated as in the range of 1 my focus to zones and aspects that interest the dominant party for example if it’s the wife more attention is given to need to do master key player, now you basically have a thorough idea of his definition, his/her role ,how to deal and pay him/ to 2% per visit of his fixed fees for the design phase. practicality of zones used by her such as kitchens, storage areas and service and know in her, in the next article we will discuss the contractor as well as several ways of calculating the contractor’s fees the design quarters as well as the mere beauty and Some Architects have a lump sum figure in addition to several methods of the comfort as a whole, but when the for the design phase “ a quota “, and this of contracting that you can tackle. husband is the one in lead , I stress on phase course depends on several variables, the comfort and functionality of zones such You can reach me at my email project’s size , the complexity of the design as home offices, living rooms and of askdalia@ask.com requested, the portfolio of the Architect course entertainment rooms as well as whether he /she is a reputable , well known budgeting. So make sure you choose a designer or a relatively young aspiring one. Smart Architect. 1-As we clarified earlier an Architect is a professional individual trained Tips; and experienced to design your 1- Make sure you question about the Architects fees when you meet him /her house in the best possible means, 2- Make sure all means of payments are but don’t ever forget that it’s your clarified in your contract with the architects home and should mirror you as well whether the installments are date of work as reflect your needs and style ,so delivery or phase related. you should be involved closely in 3- Question your Architect about any extra the design process fees for any alterations you request due to your change of mind in any aspect. 2-Make sure that you have a clear 4- As for inevitable alterations during the execution phase due to mistakes in design vision of how many zones you need prior to the design phase , so that it or lack of necessary data in his drawings that are not a contractor’s fault in construction Design is clarified to your architect prior to and were not obvious to the contractor to doing the actual design phase , take question before the start of work are all Last but not least I will finalize this article your time to decide on these factors alterations free of charge . by discussing what you need to do and and make sure you discuss them 5- In case you want a preliminary presentation know to get your aspired design and with your family for enlightening from your short listed Architect before participation what drawings you expect to receive in deciding to sign up with him, there is a retainer to be paid at first as fees for the work your package from your Architect. he/she will perform on this presentation 3- Most of the professional Architects that if you decide on signing up with will be To me the biggest perk to designing your would have some sort of a thorough inclusive in his fees. own house, is that you have the absolute questionnaire for you to fill in freedom to design EXACTLY what you on your own , or with them that want. You get to dream it all out to the answers most of the inquisitions Hints finest detail, you get to customize your about your life style, preferences, Trust me a good smart Architect is more house to fulfill all yours and your family’s favorite aspects as in style, zoning like a psychiatrist , he will be able in your requests. It time to fall back on every etc . so make sure you discuss all first visit to read your mind , understand desire you had or came across in a home departments of that questionnaire if your life style, detect your preferences, and carve all together to form a visual available thoroughly for elimination and sense who is the decision maker. In representation of you and your taste. of confusion and TAKE YOUR TIME. ASK SEPTEMBER 2011