1. The Professionals
In Ireland the title ‘Architect’ is protected under the Building Control Act 2007. Qualified Architects have typically completed five years college study plus two years of professional practice, followed by professional exams admitting them to membership of the architects registration body, the RIAI. Annual registration renewal requires completion of regular CPD to ensure currency of knowledge and skills. Architects are typically educated in Law, Planning, Environmental Sciences and History insofar as it applies to the buildings, however the main focus of their skills is in the design of buildings for clients. Only registered Architects can provide accredited ‘certification’ of the work on completion, which is required for bank funding and future sale of your property.
2. The Brief
The ‘brief’ for a project is crucial for a successful outcome and therefore it deserves significant time and effort to get right. It is useful to begin the process of drafted your brief even before engaging an Architect. Your brief should concisely list your priorities for your project, with the essential elements highlighted. Your priorities may be a focus on the garden ,a focus on the kitchen or integrating the living spaces. The brief should help to guide the design process so that the initial priorities are maintained through to final execution.
Your Architect can help to develop your brief further, with you, at the beginning of the process to ensure that the project outcome meets your expectations.
3. Design Ideas
The design of buildings is a process. The direction of the process will be guided by the ‘brief’ priorities and the constraints & opportunities of your site. If you have design ideas, or have seen images of concepts you like, it is useful to gather this material as clippings or sketches for your initial briefing with your Architect. In this way the design process can be guided by your original vision. Your Architect can work with you to customise your vision to your site, taking into account your brief priorities. Remember to involve all of the family in this process, particularly where the design of main living spaces or bedrooms are involved.
4. The Budget
The brief and vision for your project must be reflected by a suitable budget. Construction and land costs vary across the country, so the location of your project will be a factor in it’s final cost. Your Architect can advise on typical budget costs for new build houses and house extensions in various locations at your initial consultation. Your Architect can also work with a Quantity Surveyor or directly with approved Contractors at an early stage in the design process to ensure that the design solutions under consideration are within your budget.
They can then tailor any adjustments required to reflect the priorities of your brief. It is important that the Client is closely involved in this decision-making. Your Architect can often save you significant money on construction costs through an effective Tender process with reliable contractors.
5. Space vs Finishes
The design of buildings is about enclosure of space for use by people. How the space is enclosed is governed by the required technical performance of the building envelope, the project budget and design choices. There are a myriad of design choices involved in designing even a simple building, from the roof shape, to wall finishes, to windows, to floor tiles and fixtures selection. It is important that the long-term design choices which govern the size, proportions and enclosure of the space are the primary focus, because these are the decisions which will continue to have impact in 50 years time, when the tiles and kitchen cabinets are no longer fashionable !
Good communication is essential between a Client and their Architect. The Architect’s role is to tease out your vision for the project, develop designs which meet your objectives and guide you through the construction process. Throughout this process it is essential that there is open communication to inform and direct the progress of the project and to help with decision-making. It is a good idea to establish review milestones at the beginning of the project to maintain the momentum, and ensure continuous dialogue.
7. Added Value
The Architect’s role in a project varies from Brief Interpreter, to Designer, to Project Manager during the construction stage. The essential quality carried through these roles is the Architect as ‘problem solver’. The realisation of any construction project is a balance between the objectives of the project brief, the constraints of the budget, the opportunities of the site and the vision of the client. This is often a complex puzzle to solve, which requires a particular mind-set and a particular training. The Architect can bring added-value to this process by helping you to understand the consequences of design choices and helping you to focus on your project objectives. You should work closely with your Architect to make informed decisions at the earliest possible stages of the design process. In this way you can achieve a high degree of cost-certainty and design clarity before construction work commences.
Planning your next project? Get in touch with CBA Architects Cork today!