Understanding the architectural process.
The process from vague ideas through to three dimensional reality is a highly creative and exciting process, but can be confusing if you have no prior experience. The basic steps are described below, and we will guide and help you to navigate your way through:
1. Information gathering
Once engaged, we will discuss your requirements to establish a brief for the project and determine how we can best assist.
Initial meetings are to define and develop your needs clearly. What are your expectations? What do you like and dislike? How do you see your building being used now? And in the future? Time, quality and cost are key issues to consider and will shape the design that we develop.
We will also start to gather information on your construction site. Depending on the requirements of the project this might include the Certificate of Title, drainage plans, zoning and town planning information. We will also visit the site, take photographs and can organise to have the site surveyed on your behalf for its contours and boundaries.
2. Concept Development
This is the stage when things start to get exciting! It's our first opportunity to put our initial thoughts in front of you for your feedback. Typically at this stage you will be presented with a floor plan and some images that help you get a sense not only of the layout, but also the look and style of what is proposed.
At this stage, it's still early days and the point of concept drawings is to encourage discussion - to help you articulate what you do and don't like - and might even result in a complete change of direction. This is all part of the process - it's important to remember that at this point it's not about being in total agreement on every detail, but to get a strong sense of whether we are heading in the right direction and have listened to what you've talked about up to this point.
3. Developed Designs
This is the third phase of the project - used for more complex projects but is not always necessary on smaller projects. When you have agreed on a concept we will further test the ideas and refine the details to shape the final design of your building.
At this stage your budget will be discussed again and your priorities set in terms of cost, time and quality. It is likely that a Quantity Surveyor will be asked to make an independent cost estimate. It is often very difficult to predict the final cost of a project, particularly if it involves renovation work rather than new building. However a range of plus or minus 10% of the estimate is not unusual. In some instances, a sum will be allowed for items such as kitchen appliances, light fittings and soft furnishings, so it is important that the required quality of these items is discussed.
At the end of the stage, we will generally provide floor plans, elevations and cut-through section drawings as well as 3-D CAD drawings (even a "fly-through").
4. Consents and Working Drawings
During this stage we will advance the documentation to a point where a building consent application and construction can proceed.
There may also be a need for a Resource Consent (planning consent), in this instance the complexity of the project will dictate the degree of detail required in the plans - it is preferable to apply for Resource Consent as early as posssible in this stage.
At the end of the stage, we submit the project for Building Consent with the local authority, to confirm that the project meets the requirements of the relevant codes and standards.
The information supplied will include construction drawings and details, specification of materials and workmanship, engineering and services details, and reports required for building consents. Depending on complexity, specialist consultants may be required for some elements, such as structural engineering, services design, etc.
The level of detail will also allow a construction contractor to assess, cost and construct the project.
Our role does not end when the drawings are completed. We are fully trained to manage the entire building process, from design through the tendering and contract process, to observe the construction phase and approving payments to the builder.
6. Procurement - Selecting a building contractor
We will discuss the methods available in selecting a building contractor, this may involve a competitive tender to a number of contractors, negotiation with one or more, or some other method. Following selection we will prepare Building Contracts for the construction work, to get construction underway.
7. Contract Administration
During construction, we can provide regular observation and meetings to review progress and quality of works, and can manage the contractural and financial transactions involved. At completion, we undertake a final check and certify the works complete.
The degree to which we observe the building process will depend on the scope and complexity of your project. While a small simple project might only require occasional site visits, more complex projects where risk of non-compliance is higher, are likely to require more frequent visits.
8. Fee Structure
Our fee structure is based on the type of services required and how well defined they are at the outset. Our preference is to agree a Lump Sum Fee Basis, however sometimes it is more appropriate to use a Time Charge Fee Basis, or a Percentage Fee Basis, or a combination of these.
Each commission is unique, and we tailor our services accordingly.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your project, and how we may be able to best assist with the realisation.