First of all, be really sure about your choice of architect as you
will have a lengthy relationship with this particular individual
involving substantial sums of money. Be sure you can trust him or
her and that they are willing to listen with great care to all your
ideas and requirements.
Ideally, formulate your design brief before meeting with your
architect and be realistic about your budget or other constraints
that might exist. This will enable the architect to assess your
project realistically and put forward appropriate design proposals,
which will help you make suitable choices.
Your initial brief need not be very extensive but at least contain
information regarding broad principles such as the overall size and
theme of the structure; define features you want to achieve and key
functional or special inter-relationships. If you already own a
stand point out specific views or areas of the site that you would
like to utilize.
Be realistic and honest about your budget from the start. The
relationship between you and your architect should be one of mutual
trust and by being dishonest about your budget might only lengthen
the design process thus in the end costing you more in architects’
fees to get to a viable solution or you might end up with a house
design that is beyond your budget limits and you would not be able
to complete the project.
Try not to impress a specific style or theme or personalize the
design to much to your own individualistic needs. These themes are
often short lived trends in property markets and certainly put a
date stamp on a property and you might have difficulty or not get
the best resale value when it comes to the selling of the house. A
good style is one that is unique but has longevity and remains
The design of the house does not only have to do with the aesthetics
and physical proportions of the building but also, and perhaps even
more so, how it flows or functions. Your home must work visually and
physically. It is imperative to consider aspects that cannot be seen
on the plan, such as the various uses for the different living
spaces, the movement through the areas without bumping into
furniture or doors that might open onto unsightly areas of the home,
the provision of light and ventilation for the various rooms and
security of the building.
When consulting your architect for the first time, remember to try
and keep and open mind, the first session with this professional
will largely consist of discussion and questions about your
requirements and ideas of you house and site and which take
priority. During the session the architect might present you with
suggestions, ideas or solutions that might sound pleasing to you at
first, but might make sense later on in the planning stage.
When negotiating fees with your architect, you might have a choice
to use only a part of his or her service or a ‘full service’. If
your budget does not allow the service of the architect, he or she
might be willing to provide you with advice and ideas on a hourly
basis. The services of an architect is not rigid and most will be
willing to taper services to suit you needs or budget.
A full architectural service includes: consultation, design and
sketch plans, working drawings for local council approval,
construction drawings, obtaining approval from the council, sourcing
and appointing contractors and site management.
Written by JB, architect & founder of
dreamhouses. Reproductions of
this article are encouraged but must include a link pointing to