Building a property is no doubt a complex as well as expensive journey for most of us. There are many players pivotal to its successful production.
Having been a builder for more than 20 years, I’ve heard numerous tales of property gone wrong. Tales often involve ineffective builders, financial and scheduling blowouts.
In most cases such distress and turmoil could have been avoided. One way to avoid this is to set in place robust, documented controls. This includes a Preliminary Services Agreement (PSA).
The Housing Institute of Australia (HIA) recently reported that: “new home building in Australia had reached an all-time record level of 220,000 buildings being commenced in 2015”. This is likely to have a significant impact on future building standards and policy.
One of the key players is the architect.
The architect should align with your needs. As one of the first property development stages, the hiring of an industry-compliant, innovative architect should equate to a happy client and a happy outcome. But this isn’t always the case.
I recently had a client that had recruited an architect friend of theirs to complete the final design. The problem was, to build it was almost double the value of what they’d accounted for.
Not surprisingly, the client was considerably distressed. They were seeking a construction miracle via a third party, which is where I became involved.
As a builder we identified significant cost savings. Despite our best efforts to renegotiate, the project stalled in a ‘Mexican standoff’.
As later pointed out by a legal advisor, if the client had insisted on a PSA or other formal agreement with the architect, design copyright and other change barriers could have been mitigated.
Needless to say, the friendship between the client and the architect fizzled out along with the client’s future spending capabilities.
How to handpick the right architect
In this case the client was reminded of the old adage that you should never mix business with pleasure.
Here are some other ways to ensure you’re choosing the best architect:
– Seek recommendations from others who have recently used an architect . Clarify whether the architect remained collaborative and constructive throughout the entire process.
– Meet with a few architects before making your final decision. By comparing prices and processes you will deepen your understanding of what a best-practice architect has on offer.
– Immediately establish the architect’s whole involvement in your project. This includes the corresponding billing process and any latent extra costs such as additional roles and design amendments.
– Clearly define how much money you have for the project.
Formalise an agreement where the architect is obligated to comply with your budget. And alert you of potential blowouts.
Building a property really doesn’t have to include a tale of all gone wrong. You shouldn’t have to butt heads with any of your production support crew including the architect.
Establish pragmatic written contracts with the right construction personnel.
If you do this right at the beginning your construction project will likely be a positive experience from start to finish.