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No point building castles in the air by Ann Pilmer (an extract from The Age)

Wish lists are just the start. Renovators have to budget for unexpected costs.

What’s on your renovation wish list –  a new kitchen and bedroom, extra living space, an en suite, outdoor kitchen, cellar and a home theatre?

Whatever your budget, rethink it or stretch it. Fees and hidden costs such as GST will eat up a fifth or as much as a third for smaller projects.

Sole practitioners, architects Jane Cameron and Christopher Hewson, say they frequently have to disillusion new clients about the real cost of renovating.

Bronwyn Pratt in her renovated Albert Park house. Even with knowledge of the industry, she says she was taken aback by the hidden costs. Photo: Ken Irwin

Bronwyn Pratt in her renovated Albert Park house. Even with knowledge of the industry, she says she was taken aback by the hidden costs. Photo: Ken Irwin

”We live in a cut-price world,” says Mr Hewson. ”People can buy at a discount online and they see short cuts and DIY projects on reality shows, or a glossy picture in a magazine, and they think all this is easy to achieve. They don’t understand that costs can’t be readily pruned in real life and can’t be extended to professional services.”

In archispeak it’s about the cost of works versus the overall budget. Read more…


The Cost of Bad Design

“Most project managers are hired to achieve a balance between time, cost and quality. Unfortunately, I have often seen how easy it is to measure the time and the cost and to forget about the quality. But quality is essential if the client is to achieve good value. It’s much easier to measure quality with the tools that are now available. These tools need to become accepted as an integral part of the project manager’s trade.” An extract from The Cost of Bad Design – a CABE Publication


image by Tax Credit via flickr

image by Tax Credit via flickr

It has come to my attention that my approach to budgets may be different to the majority of architects.

This is where my point of difference lays. Firstly, I discuss with the client what they would like to achieve. As you can suspect a lot of client’s needs and aspirations far exceed their budgets; so I then work closely with the client to see what can be achieved within their budget.

I suspect a lot of architects establish the client’s brief then announce the estimated cost; which normally exceeds the client’s budget. This results in the architect not being engaged.

Clients have budgets and it is important to keep within these budgets. The last thing you want on a project is for the client’s dreams to be turned into a nightmare with costs exceeding their budgets. It is the architect’s role to keep the project within the Cost of Works budget; and it is important to have contingencies to prevent overruns of costs. It is vital to communicate clearly to the client when an added item or a design change will affect their budget; then they can make a considered decision on whether they want to proceed with this. Life is too short to have the unnecessary burden of debt.


image by Images_of_Money via flickr

image by Images_of_Money via flickr

A Quantity Surveyor – why do I need one of those?

I always recommend the appointment of a Quantity Surveyor for my client’s projects.

Quantity Surveyors specialise in appropriately estimating construction costs of your project in advance.  Architects are not expert in this skill.

Engaging a quantity surveyor is fundamental to effective cost management of your project, particularly through the design and documentation stages of our service.

Not engaging a cost consultant significantly increases the likelihood of cost overruns that could lead to project delays and/or costs associated with re-documentation.


image by Save by Images_of_Money via flickr

image by Save by Images_of_Money via flickr

Engaging an architect for your new home can be the best investment you can make.

Architects can help you achieve your needs, aspirations and visions for your project. We can also add value through good design and sound construction.

Undertaking a building project, whether a new build, extension or a renovation, can be a daunting experience.

When you engage an architect you are employing someone who has undertaken seven years of architectural training – no other building professional is trained in design and construction to such a level of expertise.

Do you consider it a good investment? Would you trust your project to anyone else?


image by billaday via flickr

image by billaday via flickr

Do you understand your project budget and cost of works budget?

If you are thinking of carrying out a new build, renovation or extension it is important to understand the difference between the two above terms, and to make adequate allowances in your budget.

The Cost of Works is exclusive of GST and is defined as the final cost of all work designed, specified or scheduled by the architect, including all work designed, specified and/or scheduled by specialist consultants coordinated by the architect, including:

  • •the final adjusted contract price (excluding GST) in accordance with any building contract,

  •  •plus the equivalent final cost (excluding GST) of any work or items supplied to the building contractor by the client (as if provided by the building contractor under the building contract),

  • •along with the final cost (excluding GST) of any part of the project provided under a contract other than the building contract.
  • At the beginning of your project we can derive a preliminary assessment of the indicative Cost of Works. Read more…


Architect’s fees – how do they charge?

How do architects charge fees?

There are several different methods that architects use for charging fees. 

Percentage fees

This is a very common method of charging fees. The architect charges a percentage of the cost of the building (usually the cost on completion). Read more…


image by billaday via flickr

image by billaday via flickr

Extras – otherwise known as building variations

It is usual practice for the project design to be finalised and agreed before tenders are obtained or a building contract is signed. The advantage of this is that the owner knows what they are entitled to expect; contractors know what they are to provide and a lump-sum price can be set. Read more…


image by Tax Credits via flickr

The following is a client note that is published by the Australian Institute of Architects.

One of the critical aspects of the architectural process is the management and understanding of the project cost. Any architectural process includes the key parameters of scope, time, quality and cost. Building more, in less time and with better quality will result in increased cost. Similarly, to reduce cost, one or more of the other key parameters will need to be modified.

Read more…


Image by 401K 2012 via Flickr

Image by 401K 2012 via Flickr

Value for Money – how do I achieve it?

Are Architects good value for money? Architects are professional problem-solvers. Their experience and insight can help stretch what can be achieved within your budget and add value to your project. They can suggest new ways of utilising space and light, enrich the palette of materials, finishes or fittings, find a builder at the right price, and propose design solutions that will reduce your overall running costs whilst maximising the energy efficiency of your project. At a fraction of the cost of your project, an architect’s fees will prove a sound investment.

If you’d like to discuss your project, please contact me for an obligation free consultation.