16 Aug

What is it like to work with an architect for the design of your house? What does it really mean? Before hiring an architect for your project, here’s what you need to know.

1. You will meet your architect and work on a project brief.

It is important you meet your architect before hiring them. You need to be able to trust them and communicate properly. Together, you will work on a project brief. What is an architectural project brief ? It comprises of your requirements and preferences for the project. How many rooms do you need, the type of finishes, what are the other specifications you’ll want in your house. Your project brief will also give you an indication of the area of your house and a preliminary budget.

2. Quotation

The architect will then offer you a quotation for you to approve. How much do the services of an architect cost? Usually, architects work on a percentage of the contract value of your project. The contract value refers to your whole budget for the house. Let’s say you have a budget of Rs 6 million for your house. The architect works on a percentage of this value. This percentage varies from architect to architect and also depends on the complexity of project and the involvement of the architect. 

3. Preliminary Drawings & Design Development Drawings

 Once you approve the quote, the architect will visit the site, then start working on the preliminary drawings. Those are the concepts and sketches of how you’d like your house to be. You meet with the architect, you share ideas on the drawings, you express your feelings and changes are made accordingly. This stage is known as the Design Development Drawings. 

4. Structural & MEP Engineer’s Drawings

 Architects and engineers work together to agree on certain elements of the design and drawings are changed accordingly. Your architect will also advise you on the need for other professionals if required, like Interior Designer, Landscape architect etc. 

5. Drawings for BLUP

 These are the set of drawings made for the online application for the Building and Land Use Permit. These are the drawings with the final design. Site plan, location plan, floor plans, sections and elevations with all necessary information clearly shown on the drawings are to be submitted. 3D images can also be produced to share with the client. At this stage, the design is frozen and final. 

6. Approval of Drawings

 Once the drawings are approved, construction can begin. The tender process will involve a Quantity Surveyor for the preparation of the Tender Documents. A Quantity Surveyor is the person who calculates the amount of materials needed for the construction and the of all this.  The Client may also choose to do a direct appointment of Contractors. In that case quotations will be requested from them and negotiations will be done directly prior to their appointment. In normal circumstances the Quantity Surveyor prepares a Tender Appraisal Report prior to the selection of a Contractor.  

7. Construction Drawings

 The architect then issues construction drawings. Those are the same approved drawings with one major exception: All dimensions are clearly written to ease and improve the construction period. Detailed drawings are also issued such as the schedule of openings, details of bin area, gate, boundary walls and so on. 

8. Construction Period

 The architect visits regularly the site, attends site and coordination meetings and supervises the progress of work. He makes the liaison between the contractor and the client. He also makes sure that construction is being strictly executed as per approved drawings. 

9. Certificate of Practical Completion / Taking Over

 Once the construction is finished, the architect does a site visit and issues a snagging list. Until all the items on the snag list have not been cleared, the construction is not complete yet. Once all items have been de-snagged, the architect issues a certificate of Practical Completion. The architect has a decennial liability which applies to design issues. This means that during ten years after practical completion, if there is any issue (excluding structural issues) with the house, the architect is accountable to remedy the situation. Hence, a Professional Indemnity Insurance is mandatory for all practising architects. Before applying for an Occupation Certificate from the local authorities, a Clearance Certificate is issued by the architect stating that the house has been built as per approved drawings. 

10. Occupation Certificate

 This application is done online. An officer from the District Council or Municipality then makes a site visit to counter check if the building is as per approved plans. If the plans concur, the officer will issue the Occupation Certificate. 

11. Certificate of Final Completion & Defects Liability Period

 This certificate is issued one year after the practical completion also known as the Defects and Liability Period. All final snags are completed, this is also the end of the Defects Liability Period. Before issuing the Final Completion, the architect along with all the other consultants produce as-made drawings to the client. These are the drawings made after a survey of the existing building. During construction, some dimensions might slightly differ, some changes may have been made, and this is why as-made drawings are issued. 

12. Final Account & Closure

The Quantity Surveyor submits the Final Account to the Client to confirm that all payments have been settled and that the Contractor is not entitled to any additional payment. The Contractor also signs an undertaking that all claims have been settled.

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