2. I don’t want to manage my project, but why use a Chartered Architect?
This is a good question, especially if your home alterations are quite small. If you know precisely what you want, have established relations with a local builder, and have management skills to apply to the project you may very well able to go it alone. However, redeveloping their home is something that most people only do once or twice in their lives and represents a very significant investment affecting their most important asset. A live construction project does not offer the opportunity for a learning curve, or it can come at great cost, as anyone who has watched Grand Designs on TV will realise. The process outlined above does not always follow a smooth track – every building project has a large number of stages to go through and at each stage involves input from a range of different human beings. This unfortunately means that things don’t always go to plan. Developing your home is a huge commitment, financially, socially and emotionally. You may be very good at it, or not, either way it makes good TV. However, if you decide you would prefer to have someone manage your project who’s done it before…
Many people only have a sketchy understanding of what an architect does, or assume that we spend most of our time drawing. That would be a nice way to spend the day and it’s true that design flair is a core component of what we do: designing great spaces that add real value to your property and reflect your lifestyle – rather than just providing additional floor space – should be a given for a good architect. However there are two other key elements to the role:
• Problem solving: Every building is to some extent a prototype and good design takes time – interpreting and analysing the client’s requirements, designing, evaluating, and redesigning to come up with a solution that meets the client’s needs (and which may end up not being something that they had initially considered). This process continues right through the project as issues and problems inevitably arise that can knock the job off track.
• Organising: To get from a blank sheet of paper to a completed project on site involves many stages of development and many people, each with their own attributes and priorities (which may not always be yours). As well as being the composer, the architect has a role to play as the conductor, driving and directing everyone involved in the project towards the desired outcome. Only the architect has an overview for the entire project and is in a position to do this, and very often only the architect is wholly on your side. Effective and professional management skills develop over time and require a clear overview of the whole project and detailed knowledge of the construction process. No building project is ‘issue free’, but having a good architect working on your behalf should make the process relatively painless.