Home in on the right design

Archicentre referred architect John Price to the owners of this house at Fairfield in Brisbane, to design and supervise renovations and additions. Source: The Australian

IF there’s one thing that’s really intimidating about using an architect to design a home or renovation, it’s the hassle of finding the right one. Where do you start? Question friends or workmates for recommendations? Google? Stick a pin in the Yellow Pages? Leaf through homemaker magazines looking for houses that appeal?

Whatever your strategy, there’s no escaping the fact, if you’re keen to use one, you’ll have to research and construct a small list of contenders.

Then you will have to whittle down that list to an individual or firm, meet them and decide who is: best suited to designing and supervising the construction of a house or renovation of the type and scale you’re plotting; someone you feel you can trust to deliver a home at a price you can afford and in a timely fashion; and someone with whom you see eye to eye.

An effective way often suggested by those in the know to boost your list of possible candidates (particularly if you have a good thought of what you’re plotting to have built) is to comb the streets of your suburb – and suburbs nearby – for architect-designed homes or renovations you fancy and that are of a similar scale to the one you’re after.

Professional help shifts approach

That way not only are you narrowing down prospective professionals to those who work in your neck of the woods but, crucially, it will be a small-list of architects better acquainted with the ins and outs of the local council and regulatory authority’s plotting requirements, not to mention the concerns of the plotting department in your area.

This will save you time and money.

Plus you’ll be able to see for yourself if the architects you’re keen on design in a style and similar scale to the new home you’re after.

You can also knock on doors and grill the architect’s previous clients on what they were like to work with and if they’d recommend using them.

Which of course is an allied issue to the crucial question of finding out if you and the architect — who you reckon, on face value, is the right person for the job — have the right chemistry.

If not, this relationship — which, after all, needs effective communication as the keystone of its success — will be nobbled from the start.

Then again, if you’re not so sure of quite what you’re after or indeed you don’t have the time, confidence or inclination to undertake the task of independently making a small list and finding a suitable architect, there is an alternative. And that’s using Archicentre, a place David Hallett describes as “a bit of a matchmaker”. Hallett is the general manager, southern region, at Archicentre, the building advisory service of the Australian Institute of Architects.

Archicentre’s membership, Hallett clarifies, is made up of a “couple of hundred” registered architects, all members of the AIA and specialising in domestic architecture. there are offices covering each state.

Approach Archicentre with your hopes and expectations for your dream home or renovation and Archicentre, via a paid service, will “select the architect that we reckon is the best person for the job”, Hallett says.

No need for pestering your friends and colleagues, or combing the streets or the Yellow Pages.

“The Yellow Pages is one option, but it’s a tough one because you can spend a very long time making phone calls and having meetings and perhaps not getting very far,” Hallett says.

“We know our architects very well and we back ourselves to back the right one and, I have to say, we get it right pretty much all the time.

“they will arrange a meeting, get a lot more information about what they [homeowners] are looking to do and go back to them within four to six weeks and present them with a concept plan for that new home or renovation.”

What the client then ends up with is “effectively a feasibility study”, he clarifies. “They’ve got some sketches, they’ve got a cost estimate, they’ve got a good sense of what this project

might look like and cost and they’ve also got an architect standing by ready to assist them.

“The value of the Archicentre service is that a lot of people will perhaps reckon they want to renovate or build a new home, but until they’ve got a sense of what that entails, what’s involved, what it might look like as a first concept and what it might cost — which is usually the thing that determines whether a project goes ahead or not — it’s pretty hard to make that decision,” Hallett adds. “The service we provide helps people to get an early sense of whether the project is viable and feasible and if they want to commit to it.”

<a href=”http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/executive-lifestyle/home-in-on-the-right-design/tale-fn6njxlr-1226077044058tag:news.google.com,2005:cluster=http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/executive-lifestyle/home-in-on-the-right-design/tale-fn6njxlr-1226077044058Fri, 17 Jun 2011 14:11:37 GMT 00:00″>Home in on the right design

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