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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. For more, read Part 2 of “The Client-Architect Relationship: What Your Architect Wants You to Know”.