If you build it - get an architect
Many people still see architects as an unnecessary luxury, but Abigail Larkin believes you should consider architects not only a necessity but an asset.
All building works require various approvals, whether through Complying Development or through Local Council’s Development Application process, which in itself can be complicated. For example, in parts of Turramurra, the zoning has changed from Residential to Environmental - many properties now lie in a Bushfire Zone or a Biodiversity Region which can add a level of complexity to planning approvals.
So, you need someone who can help draw up plans; should that be a draftsperson, building designer, or architect? Here’s a rundown of what each one does.
Designers may have done similar courses as draftspeople but may generally be more experienced (or may have studied architecture but not completed
qualifications to be registered).
Architects must study a minimum five year university degree, log several post-grad years worth of hours, complete more exams, be formally registered with Board of Architects in their state, earn yearly continuing professional development points (further study and industry engagement), and have Professional Indemnity Insurance to be legally called an architect or use terms such as architectural designer.
Architects are generally more experienced with complex design solutions and navigating the minefield of compliance and they have a higher level of design and construction experience and legal responsibility. Architects are the only professionals who can administer building contracts (draftspeople/designers cannot legally do so).
Most people just go with an HIA contract that is designed by builders for builders. This may not have the cover you need which can become a huge issue since most problems will occur during the building process.
Having your architect onsite during construction will help ensure the design is
adhered to and you’re getting what you paid for. The architect acts as your agent. An architect is qualified to see you right through the building process; they can use measures within the contract to avoid issues, certify progress claims or variations charged by the builder, and inspect the works; they have the power under the contract to do so. They are skilled in maximising opportunities for your site, budget and taste.
A reputable builder won’t mind being held to account and will often prefer the collaborative process to get the best result for the client.
Architects aren’t necessarily expensive, especially smaller firms who are not charging percentage costs. Renovating can be expensive and you want to get the most value out of the experience: start with a good design, then have someone guide you through the process - from concept sketches to completion.
In Australia, there are no restrictions on who can draw up plans for a house. In NSW, there are no licensing requirements for designers, so levels of experience and qualifications can vary widely. You just have to look at the many houses being built with cookie-cutter styles.
Do your research and build your dream without any nightmares.
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