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What do you want from an architect?


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I probably wouldn’t be doing site surveys, I think that’s a surveyor’s job. As a sole practitioner I don’t have any money to buy things to measure levels which is quite important. Same with tree surveys, that’s for a specialist. 
 

Mainly I want to know what people want from the architect’s part? Would you be happy with a design that gets planning and some 3Ds for 5k? Assuming you’ve seen my portfolio and references, and I’m contactable and timely.


 

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12 hours ago, saveasteading said:

Anyone who calls themselves an architect with big or small A gets in trouble. Hence 'Architectural' .

 

But the term Engineer is not protected, and neither is Civil Engineer which groundworkers like to call themselves, or Mechanical Engineer etc.  

It does not help in having the public understand what the profession is or does, hence lost of people think Architects design bridges and dams, and power stations etc.

That's all.

I agree with this, as a consulting engineer I hate when you see "Sales Engineer" on a sales rep's email signature, or some random manufacturer who has trained an 18 year old how to quantify and quote roof coverings as a "design engineer". Everyone in the construction industry now is apparently an engineer. I had someone tell me about their son who was an electrical engineer, I asked who he worked for and didn't recognise the name, I asked where the office was and she oh he is just on sites, I discovered he was an electrician, there is nothing wrong with that, but he was not an electrical engineer.

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4 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

I probably wouldn’t be doing site surveys, I think that’s a surveyor’s job. As a sole practitioner I don’t have any money to buy things to measure levels which is quite important. Same with tree surveys, that’s for a specialist. 
 

Mainly I want to know what people want from the architect’s part? Would you be happy with a design that gets planning and some 3Ds for 5k? Assuming you’ve seen my portfolio and references, and I’m contactable and timely.


 

Don't think freelance architect for self-builders is for you, with all due respect. 

 

A self-builder needs that hands on approach that so many of the veteran self-build architects give. Often they can be found on site, boots on, hard hat on, working with self-builder, contractors and builders alike and getting their hands a bit grubby, offering solutions, being part of it all. 

 

£5K - no. Now before you suspect I just think it is too high a price for a package or work and "don't know what goes into it" -  I do all my own architectural design and CAD (I am a consulting engineer so in the right industry to self design and draw in CAD), most of what I/we (the firm) do, is make a building work after an architect has done the plans and elevations so I am well placed to pull together a Tender package - unless you are onto the big Grand Design style house, then I don't think there is 5K in the average self-build, unless you will include the SE calcs, drawings and details in that too. 

 

 

Edited by Carrerahill
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I love these type of threads where people have very skewed views on what an architect does, what they should do and why they're expensive. In all seriousness OP, be very careful and thorough in researching what services you intend to offer, from years of experience I can tell you that self builders are probably the hardest group of clients that you can work for, looking at your questions and replies I would say that you probably don't want to target this type of client at all.

Do a quick search on the forum of people looking for architects or discussing fees etc and you start to understand why, there are many pain points for clients looking to build a house which need careful attention, if I was going out on my own again I would be much more focussed on targeting the right client (yes it's all experience but the amount of social work involved isn't for everyone)

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4 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

As a sole practitioner I don’t have any money to buy things to measure levels which is quite important.

 

For my self-build I bought I got some Leica kit for site levels, already had a Fluke laser measure (+-0.2mm up to 100m) and some other site marking kit. Or find a local topo company that you can use, build up a relationship with them and you will get a decent price.

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19 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

...

I am just curious what people like yourselves want from someone like me.

...

 

  • Emotional intelligence
  • The earned respect of your peers
  • The ability to work well with tradesfolk
  • The habit of listening first
  • Technical flair based on no less than 10 years practice  (20,000 hours: includes postgraduate level study)
  • Clear pricing structure : one that does not refer to percentages of a nebulous value (eg. 'contract value')
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1 hour ago, the_r_sole said:

I love these type of threads where people have very skewed views on what an architect does, what they should do and why they're expensive. In all seriousness OP, be very careful and thorough in researching what services you intend to offer, from years of experience I can tell you that self builders are probably the hardest group of clients that you can work for, looking at your questions and replies I would say that you probably don't want to target this type of client at all.

Do a quick search on the forum of people looking for architects or discussing fees etc and you start to understand why, there are many pain points for clients looking to build a house which need careful attention, if I was going out on my own again I would be much more focussed on targeting the right client (yes it's all experience but the amount of social work involved isn't for everyone)


Yes I’m kind of getting the message that it’s not clear what an architect is to self-builders, and that’s where a lot of people are tripping up. As in, ‘what do you want from your architect? = to be a surveyor’ !

I think you can get it cheaper and more accurate from a surveyor, it’s not lazyness it’s practically.
 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked with self builders for a long time now, I do understand the market and how to design what people want and can build, I know they can be tricky. I think what I’m getting, is as long as I am clear about what I offer, and honest about the price, it should go some way towards sorting out the confusion. 


I don’t know… Maybe 5k is quite high for people to hear upfront but it’s what my firm offers at the moment, and I would include 3Ds and visits. I’ve met self builders who spent 15k and didn’t get plans that worked for planning. I’d say that was expensive and a rip-off, they weren’t even nice houses.


 

 

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6 minutes ago, ToughButterCup said:

 

  • Emotional intelligence
  • The earned respect of your peers
  • The ability to work well with tradesfolk
  • The habit of listening first
  • Technical flair based on no less than 10 years practice  (20,000 hours: includes postgraduate level study)
  • Clear pricing structure : one that does not refer to percentages of a nebulous value (eg. 'contract value')


Lol thanks, 20,000 hours is very precise ?

 

how would you like to be charged, if you don’t mind me asking. 

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The biggest complaint that self-builder have with most Architects/architectural designer is that they have a poor knowledge of modern building systems and costs. It matters as much (if not more IMHO) how the inside looks and works as the outside does.

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18 minutes ago, CharlieKLP said:

that’s where a lot of people are tripping up

Ouch! A lot of people are wrong but you are right?*

 

I have been thinking on this while walking in the sun.

 

This is not the forum where you will meet your clients.

Self-builders do so for very specific reasons.

 

1. Cost saving

2. Control

3. Hands on

4. A dream

 

The first three appeal to people who will take a chance, be immersed in their own project, and be watching detail, quality and cost closely.

 

Almost by default they don't want or need to be hand-held throughout by a single party.

Some will be know-alls that don't take advice. Others will be exploring every aspect and wanting to now why, why, why.

Most will be earnestly striving for a good job at a very cheap price.

 

Your market is therefore to do a simple design (most likely tidying up a provided sketch) and leave, but technicians are doing this already for low fees.

Or to do amazing flights of fancy where budget is irrelevant, and lovely big fees follow, but these clients are not on here.

 

*actually this isn't your fault it is taught at uni. I have come across quite a few who think they are special, almost in inverse proportion to their skill and value.

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18 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

even been on Grand Designs.

Did the windows turn up on time and fit.

Personally, I would keep quiet about that as most of the projects are disasters.

 

And avoid the words eco and sustainable.

Edited by SteamyTea
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Our first architect seemed to think we were joking about the budget and designed a really nice house that would have cost double what we had to spend. Instead of holding his hands up he blamed all the builders for trying to gouge us.

 

We then had a good young architect who was enthuisiastic and was backed up by older hands in the practice. Once we had the design all buttoned up it was passed to an architectural technician who knew a lot of the local trades and had good practical knowledge.

 

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5 minutes ago, Ralph said:

...and had good practical knowledge.

 

Something most architects don't have unfortunately. 

 

One of our projects just now is an apartment complex, architects went and drew a stunning looking building as elevation drawings, some OK looking apartment layouts, but the building could not work, none of the drainage would line up, soil pipes would be dropping into lower floor bedrooms and things, these were no risers, when we told them we needed space for utilities, they said, oh can you not make it work through the fabric of the building... structural columns in the middle of livings rooms and kitchens, clearly didn't understand how a building goes together. 

 

Do not get me wrong, I know some brilliant architects, they produce wonderful buildings, but they could go onto a site and build it themselves, that makes the good ones, ones that understand just how materials work together and go together and the makeup of various details. Either they build their own projects at home, or have a house build of their own under their belt or they go to site a lot and pay close attention. 

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I have used an architect for both my self builds. Both very different builds but the architects were absolutely invaluable in guiding me through the build process. This was the key point for me and their knowledge ensured that I didn't make any expensive mistakes through lack of experience. 

I think the most important part of the project was the research I put into finding the right architect to ensure I got what I wanted. 

Ensure both sides are very clear about budgets and that you find the right balance between architectural features and practicality at a price that is affordable. 

Establishing a good working relationship is critical. The blog below may provide a few answers to the original question in this thread. 

I am a huge fan of architects and architecture. The range of skills required to master this profession is considerable. 

 

 

 

Edited by jonM
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I think you may do better with the sort of schemes you are working on for your current practice.  Perhaps see if you can poach some of the clients you get on OK with.

 

Self builders often don't even know what they want from an architect, or what to reasonably expect.  Looking at the whinging about architects on here should be enough to put you off!

 

We seem to pay architect fees of between 2% and 3% of build cost.  About 1/3 for planning and 2/3 building regs.

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1 hour ago, saveasteading said:

Ouch! A lot of people are wrong but you are right?*

 

I have been thinking on this while walking in the sun.

 

This is not the forum where you will meet your clients.

Self-builders do so for very specific reasons.

 

1. Cost saving

2. Control

3. Hands on

4. A dream

 

The first three appeal to people who will take a chance, be immersed in their own project, and be watching detail, quality and cost closely.

 

Almost by default they don't want or need to be hand-held throughout by a single party.

Some will be know-alls that don't take advice. Others will be exploring every aspect and wanting to now why, why, why.

Most will be earnestly striving for a good job at a very cheap price.

 

Your market is therefore to do a simple design (most likely tidying up a provided sketch) and leave, but technicians are doing this already for low fees.

Or to do amazing flights of fancy where budget is irrelevant, and lovely big fees follow, but these clients are not on here.

 

*actually this isn't your fault it is taught at uni. I have come across quite a few who think they are special, almost in inverse proportion to their skill and value.


Haha no, not my intention to say so. Everyone is entitled to say what they want from an architect, personally I would go to a surveyor for a survey, that’s all I’m saying there.

 

…and no they teach us at university to be professional and promote good design quality. It’s hard for a lot of people to quantify how much value there is in design quality, I do think it matters sorry.

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1 hour ago, CharlieKLP said:


Yes I’m kind of getting the message that it’s not clear what an architect is to self-builders, and that’s where a lot of people are tripping up. As in, ‘what do you want from your architect? = to be a surveyor’ !

I think you can get it cheaper and more accurate from a surveyor, it’s not lazyness it’s practically.
 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked with self builders for a long time now, I do understand the market and how to design what people want and can build, I know they can be tricky. I think what I’m getting, is as long as I am clear about what I offer, and honest about the price, it should go some way towards sorting out the confusion. 


I don’t know… Maybe 5k is quite high for people to hear upfront but it’s what my firm offers at the moment, and I would include 3Ds and visits. I’ve met self builders who spent 15k and didn’t get plans that worked for planning. I’d say that was expensive and a rip-off, they weren’t even nice houses.


 

 

 

Spend a lot of time explaining your process and educating clients - you're completely right, we do have the equipment to survey a site in the office but it's much quicker, more cost effective and more accurate to use a specialist but your job is to explain to people the why's, I've just redone our website to include FAQ's which is the same questions we get over and over again. 

The expectations and opinions of architects on here is very far from the reality (in my experience) but you have to work exceptionally hard to communicate that.

5k is cheap for getting to planning but you need to show why that's the case. Also make friends with a QS who can give you cost plans at design stage, people seem to think that architects can design within a tight budget in an incredibly volatile construction market, at least with professional cost planning you can track some of that as you go... you'll still get tenders which swing massively and the client blaming you for it being over budget but at least you've done as much as possible to mitigate the risks

Edited by the_r_sole
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I am in the middle of self building. I am frame-up and weathertight, and now embarking on first fix.

 

I did employ a part-qualified RIBA architect. She was a qualified Passive-House designer (which is something I would personally always look for in an architect) to do the CAD work and produce the design for planning and the D&A Statement. However, I managed the planning application and process myself and coordinated all the site investigations, etc., myself. And I am now project-managing the build myself entirely alone.

 

My biggest recommendation to any architect from my own experience is NOT to stick to the RIBA steps-of-service. In my personal view, they are too rigid for a one-off small-scale self-builder-led project. Instead and more flexible iterative approach should be used in partnership with the self-builder. 

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7 minutes ago, Dreadnaught said:

I am in the middle of self building. I am frame-up and weathertight, and now embarking on first fix.

 

I did employ a part-qualified RIBA architect. She was a qualified Passive-House designer (which is something I would personally always look for in an architect) to do the CAD work and produce the design for planning and the D&A Statement. However, I managed the planning application and process myself and coordinated all the site investigations, etc., myself. And I am now project-managing the build myself entirely alone.

 

My biggest recommendation to any architect from my own experience is NOT to stick to the RIBA steps-of-service. In my personal view, they are too rigid for a one-off small-scale self-builder-led project. Instead and more flexible iterative approach should be used in partnership with the self-builder. 


Hello, congrats hope it is going well.

 

May I ask where you found the designer, was it a website or word of mouth?

 

I’m not in RIBA as it’s a bit of a rip off, but I think people seem to recognise it more than the ARB. I don’t know if it’s worth spending £250 for a logo on my email or not. People like the little logo though don’t they?!

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We were lucky enough to use the services of someone trained in NZ- where architects are seemingly more broadly trained in engineering and buildability, and not as focused on the money...

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2 hours ago, CharlieKLP said:

Lol thanks, 20,000 hours is very precise ?

...

how would you like to be charged, if you don’t mind me asking. 

 

The number 20,000 hours is a research-based number. Expert status - irrespective of discipline -  is usually achieved within that time  . I'll dig out the reference if you want.

Charge like this (our architect's charging schema

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1 minute ago, ToughButterCup said:

 

The number 20,000 hours is a research-based number. Expert status - irrespective of discipline -  is usually achieved within that time  . I'll dig out the reference if you want.

Charge like this (our architect's charging schema

 

 

That is fantastic Thankyou!

 

the schema is really great, and I wasn’t too bad with the 5k for Design and planning and a topo from others then really, they charge 6k but I imagine they are a bigger practice. They do some nice things, good choice.


no need, I believe you. I think I’ve heard it before in learning the piano.

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“I did employ a part-qualified RIBA architect.”

 

No such thing. It’s like saying that someone is part pregnant - you either are an architect or you’re not. I’m presuming that this confusion is part of the perception of who or what an architect is. The RIBA does not control the registration of architects - the ARB does. I come across this confusion every day where anyone who can draw a straight line is referred to an an architect. Architects are registered with the ARB (in the UK) and can choose to join the RIBA if they so choose.

 

 

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