Do I need a designer?
This depends on many factors – including the size and scope of your project, location and materials – and changes from year to year, but as a smaller practice we can help you figure out how to get the best out of your project, regardless of its size, and whether our services will be needed later on. As with most designers, we can offer one-off consultations and these can be incredibly useful, especially if the project is not immediate. We can give you guidance on many aspects of your project from design and potential cost, through to planning and construction. In a short space of time you can gain an enormous amount of valuable information which will help you realise your project, all of which we can provide at the very outset.
How much will it cost?
Our fees will vary depending on the location and complexity of the project and level of service expected by the client. Some architects will charge you on the basis of a total project cost, others on a fixed price lump sum, but we choose to base our fees on a time charge basis. How much or how little you commission our practice is up to you – from an initial design discussion through to the final delivery of the project on site. Clients often appoint a designer who is known to them or who has been recommended, or whose work they admire. This can be a sound initial response, but a more structured process of selection is desirable where matching requirements with the range of skills and services available, and that is the recommendation of our main professional body, Architectural Designers New Zealand (ADNZ) – see http://www.adnz.org.nz/find.
How do I choose a designer?
You can create a shortlist and call each firm, based on your research. Describe your project and ask if they are available to accommodate it. If so, request information that outlines the firm’s qualifications and experience, which should be briefly covered in their website, as is ours. Ask to see a portfolio of work, or to visit finished buildings. Above all, talk to your intended designer – it’s important you are compatible. Your designer must convince you both of their creativity and their ability to get things done. We believe firmly in our abilities, and will offer you a service we think fits your needs, but you will never be pressured to appoint our practice.
How do I prepare a ‘design brief’?
The quality of your brief is a key factor for the success of your project. It is your initial tool for clearly describing the requirements and functions of your building and proposed methods of operation and management. We can help you establish a final brief, but you should try to build a basic one based on your goals first. We will want to know your aims and your budget and will also be interested in your design style. Are you looking for a design in keeping with the existing building? Do you want a contemporary one? Are there specific sustainable or ecological principles upon which you would like to base your design? We would like to know the reasons for your embarking on this building project. What are the intended activities? What are your overall expectations and what do you hope to achieve? Finally, every project needs an authority, someone who can make decisions about the designs, costs and day-to-day matters when the project is underway. At the initial meetings, we will listen carefully to your intentions and help you create a final brief, addressing not only design aesthetics, but also the function of the building. Timings and budgets for your project will be defined at an early stage and only after you have approved initial sketches will the ideas be developed further.
How do I appoint my designer?
A good working relationship between designer and client is crucial to the success of any project. We can discuss and agree on the scope and cost of architectural services before the project begins and ensure the agreement is in writing. To help clients who are embarking on smaller building projects, the organisation Architectural Designers New Zealand, provides its members with an properly designed and drafted agreement for services.
How do I keep track of design work in progress?
We can, if you require, monitor the builder’s work in terms of meeting the standards required, finishing on time and not exceeding the contract figure.
What happens if there is a dispute?
It is an unfortunate fact that disputes do arise in a small number of contracts. The ADNZ can offer advice to both clients and members in the event of any disagreement, and fully recommend that mediation is the first goal in any dispute.
Who owns the actual drawn designs?
Under the Copyright Act 1994, the copyright of design work is held by the designer that draws up any work. That Act shows that use of such plans and designs by a client cannot be prevented by the copyright owner where the terms of the contract have been met and all fees fully paid.