The Client-Architect Relationship: What Your Architect Wants You to Know - Pt1.

Unless you are a developer, most people will only interact with an architect once, or perhaps twice, in their lives. As this isn’t a regular professional engagement, you may not know what to expect or what is expected from you when working with an architect to build your dream home. We have worked with hundreds of clients and gained a lot of understanding of what it takes to build this successful client-architect relationship. Here we run through part one of our two part series on a number of things that as architects, we wish all our clients knew from the start.

 

  1. Do not be vague.

In essence, our job is taking input from our clients and using our expertise to translate that for you into a design that will give you the best house within your parameters. We cannot do this without your detailed input, otherwise we would just be designing what is the best house according to our desires. Some clients think they are doing us a favour by giving us minimal directives, however that puts us in a difficult position of trying to deduce what you want from the little you have told us, and increases the risk of you not being 100% happy with your house. Not what we want.

Instead we want you to provide us with a lot of information about you, your values, your lifestyle and your tastes. Do you entertain a lot? Do you spend most of your day outdoors? Do you fancy yourself a Masterchef in the kitchen? Do you value alone time curled up in a cosy corner with a book? Do you want an open active family home that encourages everyone to interact? Would you prefer every person to have their own corner of the house as a retreat? Do you prefer to be able to hide everything away at the push of a button for sleek elegant entertaining? Do you have a particular daily routine – for example the first thing you do when waking is have a cup of coffee in the sunshine? Do you have a bunch of children who all play a myriad of sports and need a lot of storage for their equipment? Is this a house you want to live in your whole life, grow old in, and will have changing needs in?

These are just a few examples of questions that can prompt you to reflect on what you want from your home. We want you to give us an insight into who you are and your lives so that we can build the home most suitable for you.

  1. Trust us.

The flip side of point number one, is that once you give us this information you have to take a big step and trust us. Once we are armed with your information, we need you to give us some room to do what we do best. Remember, you have engaged an architect and not just a draftsperson. The difference being that a draftsperson will not design, but will draw up what you tell them to. We encourage your input of course, but the process will not work if you have a fixed idea of what you want already and just want us to draw it up. This will at times require you to be open minded and consider things that you wouldn’t normally. However we have many years’ and projects worth of experience to reassure you that we will design for you the best house possible.

 

  1. Bigger is not always better.

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but still something we encounter regularly. Many people want to build the biggest house that they can afford. The problem with this though, is that people often overextend their finances to build such a large house and in actuality cannot afford it.
Another issue is that if you have a fixed budget but keep incrementally increasing the size of the house, that means costs have to be reduced elsewhere – this generally is seen in a selection of lower quality finishes and fittings.

However, you can build a house that feels spacious without being massive, which means money saved could be used elsewhere (perhaps indulging in that fancy new fridge you have had your eye on, or throwing a bathtub into your house?), it also means less running costs (think less spaces to light, cool, or heat) and our favourite, less time to clean it all. With considered planning you can cut down on dead space, create flexible spaces that serve multi purposes, and make sure your rooms are designed to best utilise the space they have.

 

  1. We are not copycats.

We always ask our clients to bring in some ‘inspiration’, images of other houses that they like, that can help them describe certain styles, ‘feels’, or particular features. This can help the communication process and make sure that we are on the same page about what we are trying to achieve. However, we will never copy another design exactly. If you bring something to us, we will take inspiration from it; some aspects may be similar, but in no way will you be getting a house that is exactly like an image that you have showed to us. Remember, everyone’s needs and lifestyles are 100% unique, so no two houses should be the same. We will try to deduce what it is that makes your example house resonate with you, and instil our own interpretation of that into your new home. This means that it may look a lot less familiar than you originally pictured, as everything in your house will have an impact on each other and does not exist in isolation as “plug in” features. Remember, you hired us to design, not copy.

  1. Working without any budget is dangerous.

Being coy about your budget is our worst nightmare. There is nothing like a waste of time or money if we spend months with you designing your dream home for you to not be able to afford to build it. While you can achieve great outcomes on a range of budgets – we have to use different techniques and accept different concessions depending on your budget. A good approach that client’s often use is to give us two figures, one is an ideal budget of what the client would like the project to come under, and the other is the absolute non-negotiable limit which the project cannot exceed. This gives us room to work with you to decide if there are any features that you would be willing to break your ‘ideal’ budget for. Sometimes the project is designed to be under a budget, and then the client decides that they would be willing to stretch the budget to add in a large al fresco area for example. These things are most beneficial to know up front – that way we can work hard to achieve your design for the most efficient outcome, rather than be blindsided by budget or design changes later on.

 

 

We hope this has been insightful and has armed you with more knowledge to help you get the most out of your relationship with an architect. Watch this space as next week we will wrap up Part 2 of “The Client-Architect Relationship: What Your Architect Wants You to Know”.

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The Future of Housing: Integrated Robotics

Popping up left, right, and centre, are technological innovations so numerous that it is impossible to keep up to date with half of them. These advancements being developed so rapid-fire are almost overwhelming. Every industry is experiencing significant innovation and automation, and the residential industry is no different. Have a look at this ‘FarmBot’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s5GU9SWquQ that does exactly what it sounds like and automates your gardening process to maximise your produce. No longer will your ability to grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs, be limited by a ‘black thumb’. This could make growing your own produce a lot more accessible to the population, reducing our reliance upon food flown halfway around the world, and once the initial capital cost is paid off, could easily reduce family grocery expenses. While this specific product may seem unnecessary for some, it is often these technologies that are the first step in ground breaking developments that lead us to greater, more widely applicable advancements. Take the ‘Farm Bot’ for example, it is a demonstration of a sophisticated amalgamation of the virtual world with the physical world. It is not just a ‘gardening robot’ but technology that is able to take in information from the physical world, assess and respond to that information automatically, altering the technology’s future behaviour according to what the data input was. Of course this can be tweaked by humans as we desire, but the fact that it is able to respond uniquely to the conditions of the physical world without our input is where the great potential lies.

 

This prompts interesting questions about what other automation in housing we will see in the future. Our lives and the way we interact with our houses is constantly changing along with our lifestyles – so what will our future houses look like?

 

We have seen inventive approaches to houses on the rise – for example, the Girasole house that rotates to follow the sun and wind. Perhaps we will see whole glass wall panels that you can set to opaque, and programme different areas to go transparent at different times to create a system of ‘changing windows’ to suit your needs. Who knows what the future holds? One thing is for certain, advancements in technology and robotics will be changing how we live in our houses.

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Is Modular Construction Right for Your New Home?

When designing and building your new home there are a myriad of options and decisions to be made. Within the range of different construction techniques available you would have heard of modular construction, but how can you tell if modular is suitable for your new home? First of all, if you are a little vague on the specific process of modular construction head to our post on How Does Modular Construction Work? to make sure you are aware exactly of what modular construction is.

 

Modular construction can bring a lot of benefits to your project, but it also comes with a unique set of constraints that must be managed. In determining whether modular construction is something that should be considered at the initiation of your project, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

 

Do you have strict time constraints for your project? If so, modular has the ability to reduce construction time compared with an in-situ build. Due to the nature of the off-site construction, modular allows work on the house and site works to be undertaken simultaneously. While a team is working on the modules in the factory, another team is busy preparing the site including earthworks and foundations for the modules to rest upon. Another benefit of the house being built in an off-site factory is the eradication of the impact inclement weather can have on the building timeframe, that is, construction will not be paused waiting for wet weather conditions to pass.

 

Do you have a tight budget? While modular construction in and of itself is not necessarily cheaper than traditional in-situ builds, it is through the nature of the process that provides an opportunity for cost savings. If you are living in an existing house on your current site, you are able to remain within your home for a significant amount of time while your modules are being constructed in the factory. You will only have to vacate the site for a short period of time when demolition and site works are being undertaken and the modules are craned in, compared to potentially spending 12-18 months renting during the process of a traditional on-site build. This means that you will be able to minimise the amount of time out of home, and save on months of rent which adds up to a significant amount of money.

 

If you could benefit from these advantages of modular construction, you need to assess this option from the inception of your project. Not all designs suit modular, so this is not an option you can just consider at the end of your design process. If you are contemplating modular construction this will be explored during the initial design stages to see if it is compatible with your design and site requirements. For instance, your site needs to be accessible via crane, if this is not possible then that immediately rules out modular construction as a viable option. For more information on additional benefits, or additional constraints get in touch with us for a chat!

 

 

Has this piqued your curiosity on modular construction? Are you interested in what a modular house looks like? Have a look at our Hamilton Hill modular house here: http://ecohabit.com.au/project/ecohabit-modular-house/

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