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What do you want from an architect?


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@IanR you're describing a situation which simply doesn't exist when you are dealing with the majority of domestic clients looking to build a house.

If you employ a skilled professional to deliver your building, someone who has done it numerous times for numerous clients, then I don't understand why you want to change their information. In my experience the only clients who want the raw data are those who don't want to pay you to do your job and deliver the end product, a large number of self builders have enough knowledge to be dangerous ?

 

There's no potential income stream from protecting cad files, there's just no need for them to be issued in an uncontrolled setting.

If we have a client who wants to send the files to get a visual done, we can provide cad drawings or even our 3d information direct to the consultant, similarly we will provide digital setting out drawings if a contractor is that advanced. But these are controlled situations and professional to professional. Yes all changes to a cad file should be tracked but there's no ability to ensure that if the raw data is released in to the wild...

 

It an interesting discussion and hopefully the op can start to understand why self builders can be a very difficult market to satisfy when the expectations are very different to those who trust the architect to deliver a house rather than a cad file.

 

Leaving it for a client to understand the implications of issuing amended and incorrect drawings which appear to come from a professional is not good practice. We work extremely hard to communicate with our clients about the ins and outs of things, we'd never simply hand over a cad file and leave them to it, we have a duty of care to clients which is amplified when you deal with people who have never used an architect or delivered a house before.

Edited by the_r_sole
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25 minutes ago, ETC said:

I’m trying very hard to understand why a client would want a CAD file. Can someone please explain this to me.

To help with getting quotes, doing the actual building, checking what has been done, layout of services etc.

The same can be done from properly dimensioned paper drawings, but we are now in the 21st century and most data is transferred electronically.

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31 minutes ago, ETC said:

I’m trying very hard to understand why a client would want a CAD file. Can someone please explain this to me.

 

Because the Architect's work is not the finished article. Having the Native CAD files is an advantage for preparing the Regs Drawings, drainage drawings, frame design, further renders to try different options etc. etc. etc.

 

If the client doesn't have these, then they need to return to the architect and pay a premium for the additional work, or get others to start from scratch.

 

28 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

@IanR you're describing a situation which simply doesn't exist when you are dealing with the majority of domestic clients looking to build a house.

 

I was actually just pointing out that not passing on CAD files has nothing to do with copyright or IP, but then you introduced "control" as a reason and I disagree with that also for reasons previously stated.

 

28 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

In my experience the only clients who want the raw data are those who don't want to pay you to do your job and deliver the end product, a large number of self builders have enough knowledge to be dangerous ?

 

Smiley emoji or not, this does hint at you feeling you need to save those self-builders from themselves. Again, not a reason for not handing over CAD files anymore than PDFs or pencil drawings.

 

28 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

then I don't understand why you want to change their information.

 

It's not necessarily about change, although why shouldn't they? it is their house. It could just be about down-stream uses of the drawing that is more easily done with the CAD files than with a PDF. With the architect paid for their work, why should the client need to keep coming back to them for follow on content that could be done more cost effectively elsewhere.

 

28 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

If we have a client who wants to send the files to get a visual done, we can provide cad drawings or even our 3d information direct to the consultant, similarly we will provide digital setting out drawings if a contractor is that advanced. 

 

But why should the client only have the option of you sending the files on to a consultant? Personally, I want to send the file on to who I wish, to get what further work done on it that I wish, without having to cover an admin change or what ever the architect feels it is worth for moving the data around. I may even wish to do that work myself and save some professional fees. Again, you are trying to control what happens after your part of the contract is finished, and that's not for the benefit of the client.

 

28 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

It an interesting discussion and hopefully the op can start to understand why self builders can be a very difficult market to satisfy when the expectations are very different to those who trust the architect to deliver a house rather than a cad file.

 

Maybe you are only interested in supporting turn-key projects, but the OP has no plans on delivering a house, they wish to deliver planning drawings and a couple of 3D renders for £5K. As a package, I feel that's actually reasonable value (as long as it includes working through the planning app), but not if I had to keep coming back and paying a premium for additional renders, building regs drawings, tender drawings, inevitable changes during the build etc. etc.

Edited by IanR
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If you only want to pay for a partial service and take on the rest of the project on your own then that's fine, but there's still no reason to have a cad file, in fact in my experience it's much easier to take a pdf of a planning set and redraw from scratch the building regs drawings.

 

There's a lot more in a cad file than the output, the drawings are only to be used for one specific project, there's no reason that the consultants involved can't get the required information from the architect. You are only paying for the deliverables which are drawings to communicate the design.

In pen and paper days people picked up the phone if there was a request for drawings but no one asked for a shot of the drawing board so they can make their own alterations.

If you buy a kit house with a standard plan, even they won't supply you the raw cad data, but they will release things to the consultants in the process, there's a huge difference between professional relationships and domestic clients.

 

As I say, the only clients who ever request cad files have the sole intention of changing the information, I really don't have any more to say as I've been on this forum long enough to know that some people will never understand (or want to understand) what the role of an architect really is in delivering a house... All we do is draw a pretty picture for the planners and have no idea about construction after all...

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1 hour ago, the_r_sole said:

consultants in the process,

With a self build the consultant is often the self builder though.

 

No one is asking for your laptop and contact list, and car keys.

 

(What do architects drive now that Saab have gone)

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54 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

If you only want to pay for a partial service and take on the rest of the project on your own then that's fine,

 

It's the OP that set the boundaries of the Service. Planning drawings and a few Renderings.

 

55 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

There's a lot more in a cad file than the output, the drawings are only to be used for one specific project, there's no reason that the consultants involved can't get the required information from the architect.

 

We're starting to repeat. Other professionals may not be engaged prior to planning being awarded. The OP's contract will be complete at that time. I won't repeat my prior reasons for why I would benefit from having the CAD files.

 

58 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

You are only paying for the deliverables which are drawings to communicate the design.

 

I'm paying for what ever I have agreed to be paid for. I acknowledged what is typical in the Architectural Industry, and high-lighted the disadvantage this may put the client in, and acknowledged that if the client wants something different from what is typical, this would need to be agreed up front, and if the architect was not willing, then move on to the next.

 

1 hour ago, the_r_sole said:

If you buy a kit house with a standard plan, even they won't supply you the raw cad data, but they will release things to the consultants in the process, 

 

I didn't personally buy a kit house, but I did work very closely with Cullen Timber Design who not only designed a first class bespoke frame for me, but fully collaborated, swapping 3D models every step of the way. It allowed me to overlay their frame with the existing steel portal frame structure, that I had 3D scanned and reversed engineered, in order to ensure the timber frame dove-tailed with the original structure, incorporated the new steels from the SE, that were required to stabilise the original frame and allow the new timber frame to be cut-off site and stick-built onsite without hitting any unforeseen issues.

 

1 hour ago, the_r_sole said:

As I say, the only clients who ever request cad files have the sole intention of changing the information

 

And at the risk of repeating myself, so what? Why would that be a problem to the Architect that has delivered and completed their contract.

 

1 hour ago, the_r_sole said:

some people will never understand (or want to understand) what the role of an architect really is in delivering a house..

 

It's really not a lack of understanding. There are plenty or Architect's who are happy to collaborate with the client and use the CAD data to do so. I personally wouldn't engage one who wasn't, any more than I would engage one that insisted on fixing a price for their service that was related to build cost. The OP asked:

 

Quote

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

 

Self-builders are not a homogeneous bunch, not all our wants will be the same. CAD data being part of the deliverable is high up my wants list.

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I’m afraid that I feel the same way as @the_r_sole. The is absolutely no need for any client to need the CAD file and I would never dream of giving a CAD file to anyone.

 

Why on earth would I - having spent years setting up drawing types, creating line types, text and dimension types not to mention notes and blocks - hand this information to a client so that they can either hand it over to their friendly neighbourhood “plan drawer” to copy and to use as their own data.

 

I was asked once for CAD files and when asked my client said that he wanted them so that if he ever extended the house he would have a CAD file and make doing any future drawing easier!

 

I appreciate that the client may only require a part service (planning) from one person and then get an additional service (building regulations drawings) from another person but the only reason anyone would do this is to potentially reduce the cost of the preparation of the drawings.

 

Having two consultants preparing separate design and construction drawings is in my opinion a very bad idea - mistakes can be made and once made fingers will get pointed and the client is stuck in the middle.

 

I cannot understand why an architect would market him or herself to just do design or planning drawings. In my opinion a continuous service is the best way to go so that the construction drawings follow on once the design has been finalised and planning permission is obtained.

 

I recently met an architect (A) who admitted to me that he didn’t do his own construction drawings. I really was dumbfounded that he had to bring another company in to do the construction drawings. Madness. Why on earth would you throw away the chance to earn money by not being able to do construction drawings?

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@IanR

Because the Architect's work is not the finished article. Having the Native CAD files is an advantage for preparing the Regs Drawings, drainage drawings, frame design, further renders to try different options etc. etc. etc.

 

My question was rhetorical - use the same architect for building regulations drawings as planning drawings. This will remove the need for a CAD file to be given to a client and reduce mistakes and liability issues between all parties. 

 

If the client doesn't have these, then they need to return to the architect and pay a premium for the additional work, or get others to start from scratch.

 

Agree a fee for planning and building control drawings at the start. I really can’t see any advantage - other than cost - for splitting the services but I do see a shed load of problems.

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30 minutes ago, ETC said:

I appreciate that the client may only require a part service (planning) from one person and then get an additional service (building regulations drawings) from another person but the only reason anyone would do this is to potentially reduce the cost of the preparation of the drawings.

 

There can be many reasons the paying client might not want to use an architect for a turn-key solution. They may just want to be more involved with the process, but cost is a fully justifiable reason.

 

Why should the client continue paying any architect's hourly rate, and added premium when they engage outside consultants for content they are comfortable controlling themselves and it is content that does not justify the architect's hour rate.

 

You are more than welcome to set the rules for how you wish to work, but not everyone is going to accept it.

 

30 minutes ago, ETC said:

I recently met an architect (A) who admitted to me that he didn’t do his own construction drawings. I really was dumbfounded that he had to bring another company in to do the construction drawings. Madness. Why on earth would you throw away the chance to earn money by not being able to do construction drawings?

 

20 minutes ago, ETC said:

Agree a fee for planning and building control drawings at the start. I really can’t see any advantage - other than cost - for splitting the services but I do see a shed load of problems.

 

I believe you have have high-lighted my point that the client is at a disadvantage if only the original architect has the CAD files.

Edited by IanR
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The architect's job doesn't finish at planning stage and the design certainly doesn't, it seems bizarre to want to use an architect based on previous work and then only ask them to do the first bit of design, there are hundreds of decisions to be made through building regs, tender and construction phases, for me the magic is in working with consultants and contractors to get the great end product, if you want a drawing service just get a technologist? You won't be getting all the detail anyway so why bother with the expense when you're not going to build the designers vision?

 

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58 minutes ago, the_r_sole said:

The architect's job doesn't finish at planning stage and the design certainly doesn't, 

 

1 hour ago, IanR said:

It's the OP that set the boundaries of the Service. Planning drawings and a few Renderings.

 

...but I agree with you that the Design does not stop at the planning stage. But why should the client need to stay with the original architect to complete the design. Having the CAD file would benefit the client and improve their options. Not having the CAD file only benefits the original architect.

 

The OP seems to want to do just the Planning drawings, and some renders.

 

On 13/01/2022 at 18:48, CharlieKLP said:

I am a qualified architect and I’d like to design houses for self-builders. ...

 

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

 

On 13/01/2022 at 20:31, CharlieKLP said:

I was thinking of charging 5k for a design for planning. ...


I don’t really like doing building regulation work or costing. ...

 

On 13/01/2022 at 21:39, CharlieKLP said:

do you need construction drawings from the architect?

 

On 13/01/2022 at 21:46, CharlieKLP said:

I would always get the customer to employ a surveyor, would someone really employ an architect to survey a site? ...

 

I have to be honest, that's a saleable service.

 

Edited by IanR
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@CharlieKLP
It seem s to me reading through the posts that the answer to your question of what self-builders want in an architect (capital A) I think the answer is quite simple - a first class design or designs within a very specific and often meagre budget, planning approval, building regulations drawings, building control approval and to hold their hand on site and when the sh*t hits the fan all for a fee that you’d pay a plan drawer working with a couple of blunt Rotrings on his kitchen table.

 

But seriously - I think you have a great opportunity for getting involved with the self-build community although I think that you find the experience much more challenging than working in practice.

 

@IanR

In relation professional fees - you get what you pay for - pay peanuts and you get monkeys.

 

There are some very good architects out there who will be more than happy to give you a great design, give you construction drawings and help you on site for a very modest fee. You seem to think that an architect (A) is out to get as much money out of you for a small a service as possible. This is not the case for the majority of us who are very conscientious and who will go above and beyond what they are paid to do. I joined this forum in the hope of helping any self-builder with my skills and have done so successfully over the last few years through PM.

 

I firmly believe that it is a false economy to hire one architect for the design and then take the design to a plan drawer to draw up.

 

Finally - I will never hand over a CAD file to anyone.

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11 hours ago, the_r_sole said:

 

But why could you not do that with formally issued pdf drawings? 

Why wouldn't the builder speak to the architect about what the issue is?

On big jobs when we get queries from site, everyone wants a drawing issued to clarify the queries rather than the base cad files...

 

If, however, the Architect refuses to acknowledge an issue or take responsibility then the client can be left with an unbuildable design. Contractors are left in need of revised plans which are part workable and part not. The part that's not may fairly easily be revised through 3rd party assistance (in our case the helpful designer of "attic trusses to be designed by others") but the lack of a common electronic reference makes this process laborious. I expect you'll point to the official arbitration processes designed to remedy such disputes but in reality, when a project is on hold and your builder has wandered off to other jobs, the most expedient solution is to cut your losses and do the best you can with the little you've got that's useful and that you've paid for. You can probably tell I'm still smarting.

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9 hours ago, Radian said:

...

You can probably tell I'm still smarting.

 

Smarting yes, but sensible it seems.

 

In this case (above), a good dose of Emotional Literacy all round might well have reduced the issue to more manageable proportions. 

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Hmmm, as I see it, the overall discussion on drawing format highlights the various problems in building a house that while attributed to technology here, aren't fundamental technological by nature. Rather they are down to process and human relationship. You can get into multiple problems with paper/fixed issued drawings with version control and distribution as you can with CAD files, although based upon my own experience in the industry, electronic files, if distributed to the wrong entity, can allow for more errors to emerge simply through user ignorance.

 

Self-builders (whatever that actually means or might actually be a pretty much meaningless term anyway) are a breed that ranges from those who have absolutely no technical understanding and struggle to use MS Word to those in the engineering field who are totally comfortable working with CAD files and are well versed in proper version control, distribution, managing comment/amendment input, signing off and redistributing the newly issued versions (although I've known and met plenty of engineers and some architects who are equally sh1t at this and are thus the root cause of building errors - my architect hated me because I used to reject his drawings when they weren't versioned/issued correctly).

 

I do suspect that an architect issuing pdf files does overall reduce risk for a general client and, providing the pdf is exported properly from the design software, can actually be imported into another cad without too much problem (usually). I know that my structural engineers did this even with my architect's hand drawn designs to create the general arrangements and then subsituted their own details as a separate document.

 

While CAD is an amazing tool and an essential requirement for some, I wonder whether your average self-builder* (see note above) who doesn't want to pay more than £5k for the design of their house, will cough up the necessary license fees for the CAD software in the first place. If they don't and instead download some freeware/cheapo design software that says it's compatible with all file formats, the bets have got to be off that something doesn't go wrong with the original raw cad files. I tried numerous cheapo versions before we started our build and experienced problems with just importing and exporting dwg/dxf files, let alone then working on them. I'm pretty literate technically with these things but chose, due to expediency, to leave it all to the professionals I'd engaged to do the work. The only thing I used was a 3d cad package to create and render a basic arrangement for the house in order to do my own bill of materials in order to minimise wastage.

 

I definitely understand why someone would want the cad files from the architect, but it does strike me that if this is demanded this may be driven by a lack of trust and self-protectionism. If that's the case, there's something fundamentally wrong with the relationship in the first place. If the relationship is right, then it should be possible to reach an amicable arrangement that works for all involved.

 

As for the OP, @CharlieKLP, what do you actually mean by 'self-builder' as your target market because I suspect that your target client may not actually be as wishy-washy and generic as this, but rather more specific. I may also have got the wrong sense of it, but it also feels to me like the proposition is a bit akin to providing clients with a product, which is a bit production line based and transactional whereas my sense of an architectural service is to develop a client relationship that in turn yields a home of value - I think these things sit in stark contrast, but again depends on what you want to produce and with whom you want to work.

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1 hour ago, SteamyTea said:

Ok, here is a project.

No commission on it.

Tell us all how you get on.

https://forum.buildhub.org.uk/topic/25153-is-it-possible-to-do-under-£200000/


For budget, all I would do is ask the person what they wanted to spend per m2 (like the other poster) and then design them a ~100m house for 5k to get planning. I’d leave it for them to budget for everything. 
 

I’m sure that would get me some ‘architects know nothing’ stick, but really, a self builder to me means you’re the PM. All I’d be doing otherwise is making a spreadsheet and googling, they could do that themselves and there’s plenty online calculators  for working that out. 
 

In terms of what I’d do, I’d get them to get a site survey, then I’d do a desktop planning search. Then I’d take their brief and do some sketches. Then I’d develop the design with them, then do some 3Ds, the site drawings and I’d probably do the D&A statement too. Then I’d help them through planning and then charge a little extra to discharge the conditions. 
 

Just wondering if that’s what people generally want. I know a few people have said more hand-holding, but I probably wouldn’t have time to do that. I’m still early on in my idea to start a business btw.

Edited by CharlieKLP
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From what you've just said @CharlieKLP, I don't think you understand your target market and the problems they face at all. That's where you need to start. What you've illustrated is probably one of the areas where I and people I know have a problem with many in the architecture field and that is the architect approaching the problem from their perspective and position, and not that of their client.

Edited by SimonD
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our [A|a]rchitect gave us a SketchUp file of the CAD drawings. that way I could zoom in, measure, check, adapt etc to my hearts content without affecting the CAD drawings. seemed like a perfect solution to me. 

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1 minute ago, Thorfun said:

our [A|a]rchitect gave us a SketchUp file of the CAD drawings. that way I could zoom in, measure, check, adapt etc to my hearts content without affecting the CAD drawings. seemed like a perfect solution to me. 

Ooo, I do love a good compromise, warms the cockles of my heart. 

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We could create a 'cartoon' house on an imaginary bit of land. Then those people who have already built, and know many of the varied problems to be overcome, can chip in.

Think of it as a mock exams of what you may have to put up with.

You may find that dealing with self builders, on a tight budget, is not where you want to be doing business.

Similar in my business. Michelin service at kebab shop prices wanted.

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5 minutes ago, Thorfun said:

our [A|a]rchitect gave us a SketchUp file of the CAD drawings. that way I could zoom in, measure, check, adapt etc to my hearts content without affecting the CAD drawings. seemed like a perfect solution to me. 

I though it too obvious to mention that there are several easy to use packages that files can be exported to.

Shows that some practices need to change is they think about technology.

Edited by SteamyTea
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1 minute ago, SteamyTea said:

 

Similar in my business. Michelin service at kebab shop prices wanted.

Isn't that what it's like for everybody in nearly every business, nowadays? People are killing retail by going to the shops then buying from Amazon to save a few pounds. 

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23 minutes ago, SimonD said:

From what you've just said @CharlieKLP, I don't think you understand your target market and the problems they face at all. That's where you need to start. What you've illustrated is probably one of the areas where I and people I know have a problem with many in the architecture field and that is the architect approaching the problem from their perspective and position, and not that of their client.


What problems are you talking about? 
 

I’m not here to solve their problems, I’m here to get them planning on a nice house. Isn’t that the problem.

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