As architects, we see many clients who decide to approach a builder directly with very limited information. Of course, contractors do their best to give accurate prices, but with all the inherent unknowns of construction, adding the unknowns of design expectation can baffle clients with a wide range of costs. Can you imagine buying a car and expecting one fixed price without defining the number of doors, the class of vehicle, the level of interior finish? Let alone how it looks and feels? Some clients, after asking builders to price for ‘a rear extension with a new kitchen,’ come to us for help understanding what to do next.
Clients do realise that architects can help design them a tailored home. But what they don’t always appreciate is how much help we can offer at executing the ideas into reality. For us, partnering with a builder happens to be a great way of achieving a fantastic outcome and within a fixed budget.
On a recent project in South London, a client with Planning Approval for a side and rear extension came to us bewildered. They had a fixed budget for the project and couldn’t be certain whether they could improve their home within these means. We suggested that they break down their project budget into fees for various consultants, VAT and some contingency in order to understand just what they had left for the construction. We then did some quick sketching and approached a builder with whom we had a good relationship for their initial thoughts on whether this construction budget was realistic. The result was that the clients knew what their money would get them from the beginning and that they could rely on their architect and builder to work as a team to deliver their project.
We take pride in the quality of our design. But we know that without the feedback from a good builder, designs can either be unaffordable or unachievable. When clients hire an architect to help them execute a design, they are insuring themselves against uncertainties which can cause problems on site, increase costs, and ultimately put the design in jeopardy. Teaming up with a builder from the early stages of a project requires more communication between client, builder and ourselves, but certainly yields better results.
Collective Works (www.collectiveworks.net) are an architecture and design studio built on transparency, collaboration and communication. The studio is led by three partners with extensive experience at international practices who take a leading role in each of our projects. They work with enthusiasm across social and commercial projects and allow clients to become collaborators in the creative process. They believe that great design takes passion, intelligence and personal commitment.