Magnificent pieces of architecture like the Sydney Opera House often give the impression that architectural services are limited to the very rich. Contrary to what many think, a lot of architects offer their services for affordable residential and commercial projects. Once you decide that you need an architect’s help, now you have to consider finding the right architect for you. Here is a checklist of what to look at when hiring an architect in Australia.
Australia takes the use of the title “architect” seriously because building designers can be fined for breaching the Architects Act by posing as an architect.
To legally call themselves professional architects, the candidate must be registered with the governing architecture board in their state or territory. Registration then requires a degree in architecture from an accredited university and coverage by liability insurance.
Hire an architect from a firm that guarantees all their architects are licensed professionals. Should you take it upon yourself to hire an individual architect, though, contact your state’s governing architecture board to double check your candidate’s credentials.
Most architects specialise in a specific type of building project. For example, one architect could specialise in building houses from scratch, while another might specialise in conserving historic sites. Some prefer to focus on design, while others give a more hands-on approach to the construction process. They may even specialise in a field outside of mainstream architectural practice. So it is important to be sure your architect specialises in the type of project you need to be done.
Portfolio, Work History, and References
Check your architect’s project history to see concrete examples of what they’ve done before. Every architect has their own style, and the closer their style is to yours, the more likely they can help you.
If at all possible, ask your architect for references, and then contact these references. Find out how their experience was working with your candidate architect. Did the architect listen to their specifications? Did you work with the actual architect and not their assistant? Was the project completed on time and within budget? Your architect will be collaborating with you beyond the design stage and throughout the construction process, so you need to hire an architect you can trust.
Does your architect charge at a percentage of the project cost, or do they charge at an hourly rate? Perhaps they charge a fixed fee? What is included in the quote? Knowing how your architect charges will aid not only in planning your budget but also in writing your contract.
Discuss the phases of your project, no matter how small it might be. A good architect should be able to give you realistic expectations of when you can start your project and how long it will take to finish. Whether you’re expanding an existing home or building a high-rise structure, your architect should help you plan your milestones and properly monitor whether or not your construction is running on schedule.
When your architect helps you set expectations, be sure they are factoring in their availability. Ask how your architect schedules their time when your architect will be available for you and when someone else will be managing your project. You want an architect who actually has time for you.