Before You Hire an Architect

Things to Know Before You Hire an Architect in Nigeria

If you intend to carry out a building project, you need to hire an architect at some point. This is pertinent so you can achieve your goal. Architects are building professionals saddled with the responsibilities of planning, designing, and overseeing the construction of buildings.

If you hire one, you are ensuring you get the best out of your project. They carry a wealth of experience relating to their craft which, in most cases, clients know nothing about. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you have spent a lot, yet the result seems insufficient.

You need to hire an architect to help you with all stages of the project. Before you hire an architect, there are a lot of factors you have to consider. Besides those factors, you as the client have a role to play to ensure the time spent during the communication is worthwhile. Walk with me while I explain some of these factors and tips below.

Before You Hire an Architect, Read This!

He is an Expert

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I know a lot of clients who have few design traits in them. That is a good thing as you will understand concepts faster. However, this trait does not put you in parity with your architect. To hire an architect, it takes a certain level of open-mindedness.

The assumption you are willing to learn from his/her experience ensures a smooth conversation. Don’t get me wrong though. Clients should know what they want. Architects just help you actualize it amidst a series of professional advice.

A Considerable Amount of Time is Involved

I get it that time waits for no man. Everyone is in a haste to get things done. Be advised that designs, construction and all its links TAKE TIME!

From the design process to approval to construction, it is a time-consuming process. I mean, it involves a considerable amount of time. If you intend to hit the ground running, then you need a head start. It is not advisable to be in a haste. Take your time, be sure everything is in order.

There are variations in every stage of the design. Some because of clients’ demands, others unforeseen. The bottom line is, they happen. Clients need to be patient. However, be rest assured that the well-planned time constraints result in excellent finished work.

It Involves Teamwork Sometimes

This is another tip you need to know before you set out to hire an architect. No man is an island of knowledge, hence we have various professionals in the built environment. An architect alone does not make up the design team.

Be able to streamline your questions and learn to be patient as regards getting feedback. We need more minds and hands. An architect is not responsible for your structural drawings, electrical drawings, mechanical drawings, and a bill of quantity. Hence teamwork is evident.

More Tips 

Choice of Design

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Before you ring up that architect, make sure you have a choice of design/property ready in mind. Architects are consultants and can also help you make choices. However, as a client, you have the first say on what you want. Discuss with friends and family on what type of property to build before consulting an architect.

Honestly, it is not an architect that would decide for you if you want a residential property or a commercial property. Getting an estimate is a lot of work and is design-dependent, hence it should not be a factor in choosing a property.

However, an architect can tell you the feasibility of your project. “No, you can’t have a 4 bedroom bungalow here because of space constraints, make it a 3 bedroom bungalow instead“. That is the consultation they can give you as regards this topic.

Previous Designs

hire an architect

I have had clients asking me to send designs of previous works (most times they specify the design they want). This may be the norm, but it is not proper. I know clients want to see how an architect thinks, which is clear in their designs. However, an architect by definition is someone who creates.

By this, I mean you should have the trust that he/she can provide whatever space plan you need. That said, seeing previous designs from architects may not help you achieve your goal. 99 times out a 100, you end up getting a new design with no input from the samples sent.

This is so because every design is unique to the client. I love spacious bedrooms, you may prefer something compact. This would not reflect in previous designs the architect may have done. Also, previous designs may not have all your requirements. Designs shouldn’t be shopped. Prepare a brief and send to your architect. That is the best way to go. 10 times out of 10, they will prepare a unique 3 bedroom bungalow design.

Some clients expect architects to have a sample design of all building types. This is a wrong notion. All architects prepare designs based on the clients’ brief. We do not prepare designs for fun, we prepare them on request.

Estimates

Some clients ring up an architect and ask for estimates to erect a property. If you do not present drawings, there would be an error margin of about 30% more or less in the cost estimate. Such information will not be useful. Estimates for construction are design-dependent and cannot be determined without design drawings.

Do not ask an architect to give you estimates if you do not have design drawings. If you have design drawings, be prepared to pay for the estimates. These estimates are prepared by a quantity surveyor and are not for free, except during a turnkey project. In a turnkey project, consultation fees would have been paid.

From the articles, Cost of building a Duplex, and Cost of building a Bungalow, you will have knowledge on cost estimates for these types of structures. That is all the information you need until you are ready to start your own project.

Design Costs

If you intend to hire an architect, it means you are ready to kick start your project. Having your design drawings is the first area of negotiation. There is no need for negotiating supervision fees, residency fees, etc when the design drawings have not been finalized. Some clients are quick to jump the gun. Your design drawings are your number one priority. Negotiate for that first before anything else.

After negotiation, only an advanced payment issued can kick-start the design. This is mandatory except otherwise agreed. I have had clients ask me to prepare drawings saying they would pay after it is completed. That is not how it works. This is a service niche, hence commitment ensures there is a contract between both parties.

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These are some tips to know before you try to hire an architect. Architects are professionals, hence need to treated as such. These tips would help to ensure a smooth and productive conversation. We would update these tips as new trends evolve.

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