Q&A IN THE TIMES OF CORONA-19.
We are currently in extremely unusual times, where it often feels like we are placing our lives on hold.
However, does this include putting on hold your dreams of carrying out a new-build, extension, or renovation? Depending on your own individual situation this may not be necessary.
This Q&A article aims to demystify the current situation in the world of COVID-19, and to provide you with the tools for making informed decisions.
This is general advice specific to private residential projects in the state of Victoria. And, we recommend that you obtain your own individual financial advice before proceeding with any project, along with legal advice before signing a building contract.
A brief guide to help you understand our language
Brief – Your wish list
Client – That’s you
Consultant – A person who is consulted for paid expert advice, i.e. structural engineer, surveyor etc. We can advise you on the appointment of your consultants, from our trusted team.
Contingency sum – A sum of money included in a building contract or preserved outside it for costs (if necessary), for things unforeseen at the time that the building contract price was calculated. Contingency sums are highly recommended and we can assist you in establishing a recommended amount, which is normally calculated on a percentage.
Design Contingency Sum – A sum of money allowed in your project’s budget to cover the cost of matters that are unknown or unresolved at the time your budget is established. Your design contingency will typically be proportionally high early in the design stages and reduces as the design develops. Design Contingency Sums are highly recommended, and we can assist you in establishing an amount, typically calculated on a percentage.
What is value management?
In architect’s speak value management is an effective tool for helping us to help you. It assists you to understand the real implications of your requirements (otherwise known as the design brief).
Value management shares the decision-making. It empowers you to make
critical decisions when it comes to your home’s design and budget.
Some days I feel like I am a lawyer, as I am constantly dealing with legal issues to protect my clients. These rang from planning requirements, building permit issues, to administrating a construction contract on site between the owner and builder.
Planning requires skills in understanding the legislations and rescode, which assists in the town planning negotiation stage with planners and neighbours. It makes it a lot easier to stand your ground when you know what your talking about and you have received an unreasonable objection. It also commands a greater respect from the planners.
For all my projects I recommend the engagement of a cost consultant, otherwise known as a quantity surveyor. Cost consultants specialise in estimating construction costs in advance. Engaging a cost consultant is fundamental to effective cost management, particularly through the design and documentation stages of your projects. Cost consultant significantly decreases the likelihood of cost overruns that could lead to project delays and/or abortive documentation costs. It is highly recommended that the appointed cost consultant is
Bad design does cost.
Some further thoughts to my earlier posting on the bad design costs.
Good design can provide significant value to both the owner and user; however, there are often greater costs occurred due to bad design. On the initial investment made good design pays back over a long period of time, whilst with bad design the negative effect can be immediate and can continue over its life cycle. It can mean a home may need refurbishment or replacing before it was originally planned. This can imposes unwanted costs on the owner and users.
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 Jake Bellucci via flickr
People dream about their ideal homes.
And to turn people’s dreams in to reality, one needs to build a level of trust with their clients. It is such a huge responsibility. You are not only managing their cost of works budget you are also managing their expectations. There is so much emotion invested when it comes to residential designs; as you are often dealing with people’s dreams.
I love working with residential clients
My first love has always been residential architecture. I have always been fascinated by houses. From the days of growing up on farm – where I would visit the local homesteads – to now seeing the houses entered in the annual Architecture Awards.
I have always been intrigued by how people live. I think this is part of the reason I have spent so much time overseas. When visiting a foreign country my preference has always been to stay in someone’s home rather than a hotel. Thankfully I have lots of friends in amazing places. This fascination of how people live translates to my love of designing homes.
I also adore working with private clients. It is much more personal. I enjoy the process of understanding how a client lives and what they want to achieve with their new home. No two clients are the same. Read more…