A road race not a relay…
Why employ an Architect during the construction phase?
Getting the right team together for your project is vital, and having them around you when you need them is imperative. Despite advice conveniently breaking a project into distinct stages the build process doesn’t work like the 4x100m relay. It’s not possible to breeze through one stage with professionals passing the baton to the next professional, their work done. To continue with the Olympic analogy, the process is more comparable to a cycling road race with the lead swapping back and forth through the race as conditions and tactics dictate to bring the best out of every racer.
The architect and their team are the people who know the design and documents, and having them actively engaged thought the construction phase ensures your dream home becomes a reality. Moving a concept off the page and into a solid structure is fraught with misconception and best fix solutions meaning a vital detail can be lost, affecting the whole design concept.
All good contractors that I have worked with are happy to have the architect around. They appreciate the collaborative approach and the ability to discuss the ramifications of a change. Yes, they are skilled enough to interpret the drawings but by having access to the author and working with them costly oversights can be avoided. As the architect knows the history and reason behind decisions, appropriate substitutions can be made quickly and effectively based on original design principles, rather than just cost or time considerations. This is even more important where subcontractors are employed, who often may never see the design on paper.
Most builders will have experience of meeting building regulations and increasingly there are contractors with experience in Passivhaus principles. Though it is not common for them to have the time to keep up to date with the details and minutiae of these standards, or have the contacts to ensure the most appropriate product is used in the right area. As registered architects in a chartered practice, each of Eco Design Consultants Architects are required to ensure that they are abreast of all the latest changes just to maintain their registration. They must undertake ongoing training every year, submitting records to the Architects Registration Board.
So if the architect is the design champion, why is it that that they are often left back in the office? Sadly, it is generally related to the perception of saving money, with individuals opting to “call if there is a problem.” Once a problem is identified a solution will be found but options are already likely to be limited by the time the call is made. You are not paying twice if the architect and contractor are both there, one is the designer and the other the builder, their roles are separate and distinct. There is no overlap, only collaboration and the confidence that your design will be built.
It will cost a bit more if you have an architect overseeing the building work, but having them present will give you the peace of mind to know that they are ensuring that your design is realised, that as professional problem solvers they will own the problem bringing solutions and work with the builder to avoid pitfalls and prevent short cuts. They will help you through the planning process, dealing with building control and certifications processes, to ensure that your project is legal and achieves the environmental standards that you requested.
If you’d like to discuss this in more detail feel free to give us a call.