Taking the first steps towards making your dream home a reality can seem daunting. Starting a new build or renovation project is an exciting time but there’s lots of hard work before you actually ‘break ground’.
Your architect will be responsible for your building’s design but they can also be involved throughout the whole project. They may step into a project management and administrative role as well as continue their scope to include interior and landscape design. So, choosing an architect is a serious business. It requires research and preferably recommendations. You can use the NZIA ‘Find an Architect’ or the ADNZ 'Find a Designer' tools to research architects in your region. We recommend you make a shortlist of those whose work you like, and then get in touch to start to discuss your project. Explain your main objectives and find out about their fees and range of services as well as how payments and budgets are managed.
Once you’ve chosen who you want to work with you’ll need to start having more complex conversations in order to properly brief your architect. Before the drawings, specifications and plans, you’ll need to work with your architect to define, in writing, your wants and needs and their exact involvement in your upcoming project - this is called the brief. This blog provides you with an outline on how to prepare when it comes to briefing your architect. And, you can download our free 5-step planning template to help you get started.
Before meeting with your architect you’ll need to have a good idea of what you want to achieve. It’s important that you’re really clear on your objectives so it’s worth doing some research. This will help ensure that your architect will match your style and deliver what you want.
You should consider the following:
Decide what type of house/project you want to undertake - e.g. Is this a new build or the renovation of an old villa? What are your motivations for embarking on this project?
Style and design - This will be unique to you but you may not know exactly what you want off the top off your head. The building guide provides a list of different house styles to help you.
Gather examples of what you like - This can be online or simply by taking snaps of houses you like when you’re out and about. Sites like Pinterest are useful for both research and as an online scrapbook.
The kinds of fittings you imagine in your home - Gather examples, brochures and imagery from wherever you can to start to build up a picture of how your new home could look.
Measure up - Use your existing space or the homes of friends and family to measure up what sort of space you’d require.
Understand what your wants and needs are for your home both now and in the future - Consider how you live in your home and how that could change in the years to come. Think about if you’d like open-plan living space vs closed off areas and separate rooms, indoor-outdoor flow, play spaces for children, home office etc. Also, understand if you have any non-negotiables for your project so you can clearly articulate them when it comes to briefing your architect.
Now that you know what you want it’s time to meet with your architect and get the project off the ground.
Like all design processes, working with an architect always starts with a brief. This is a vital document, and your wish list, that’ll contain the main details of your project with a clear idea of building specifications like:
Number of rooms and what type they are - how many bathrooms, bedrooms etc
Form and aesthetics - e.g. modern glass design or traditional overhangs and verandas
Unique to your site - property access, environmental influences and the existing character of the street/location
Light description - where do you want the main natural light source to flow through your property?
Energy efficiency - windows and doors specification, water and heating systems
Functionality requirements - what the rooms and spaces will be used for e.g home office or guest spaces, privacy and storage needs
Technology - audiovisual, home theatre, lighting, security needs.
Material choices - e.g. brick, tile, wood, stone
Create a priority list from the research you’ve done on your wants and needs and this will ensure you’ll be able to manage your ideas against your budget. Then you’ll know where you’re able to compromise if necessary.
Your brief should preferably always be in writing so you’ll have it as a reference. However, if there's any reason that you can’t do this then you can request for your architect to reverse brief back to you in writing following your face to face meetings.
All projects have a budget. You’ll need to have a clear view on what this is at the briefing stage and you’ll want to be keeping a close eye on how your money is spent each step of the way. To ensure you know where your architect budget is being allocated, request a staged proposal outlining the fees and costs at each stage of your build including:
Your architect will outline their services to you and you should expect your brief to evolve over time. Once you’ve decided how you’re going to work together you will sign an Agreement for Architect’s Services that outlines the scope of work and services, how the fees and costs are charged and any special considerations.
Download our easy 5-step Planning Template to help you start planning and preparing your project brief for your architect today.