Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some questions that regularly come our way.
The answers are relatively generalised, so if you would like more information, please let us know.
What services does an architect provide?
An architect’s role through an individual project can take on many forms, depending on what the client needs. However, typically an architect can provide assistance through a project from start to finish. It can start from helping to find a suitable property to build on, to high level feasibility concepts, developing the design to a point where scope and budget are aligned, then producing documents for consenting, tendering, and building. Along the way we arrange regular client design review meetings, lead and coordinate the work by other consultants, and then ultimately help to see the project through construction to ensure that what gets built is in accordance with the drawings.
What principally drives us is the desire to help a client get the best value for their money, and to get something they love for a long time.
This could be achieved by identifying options never considered, introducing new innovations and ways to ensure the finished product can stand the test of time and adapt to different ways of inhabitation over time.
What are clients responsible for?
As much or as little as they like! Each project's process is tailored to our client’s needs, interests and available time. Some clients are builders, so they like to contribute to the constructability of the house. Some clients love to be an integral part of the design process, and some prefer to have a limited involvement until it’s all built.
Generally, we like our clients to provide as much info as they can about the project brief and their lifestyle and interests before we begin. Then be involved in regular meetings to discuss design progress and to make decisions as/when they are necessary regarding options we provide for aesthetics, material selections, cost considerations, construction logistics and so on.
What's influences a successful project?
An attribute of a good architect is being able to produce a coherent solution from a complex problem. To accomplish this, clear lines of communication and confidence must be established between architect and client as soon as possible.
Many clients find this difficult when starting out with an architect they haven’t worked with before. This is completely understandable. It’s a big investment in time and money, and a lot is at stake, so naturally there may be some anxiety when commencing.
To ensure clients are put at ease as early in the process as possible, Parkes Architecture typically follows the below process for residential projects. This ensures a project starts right, and therefore has the best chance of finishing successfully.
Introduce / Research
We obtain an overview from our clients of what their general brief is, and where the property is. We undertake initial research into what challenges or restrictions their property / zone will present.
Meet / Advise
We prefer to meet our clients at the project location to discuss the brief in more detail, and to understand the property. Provide on-the-spot insights regarding potential project opportunities and risks. Advise of relevant architectural experience and provide options for going forward.
At this point it is critical that our client’s brief expectations align with their budget. In order to achieve this, before committing to months of paid work, Parkes Architecture often recommends clients consider a commission for initial concept design only – with a view to obtain an estimated cost for the work from a QS or preferred builder. Once this estimated construction cost is received, our clients are in a much better position to make decisions about the future of the project, the extent of the brief, and whether they’d like to continue the journey with us.
From here, the scope of remaining architectural services and the fee for that work can be agreed.
Brief clarity at this point means the design and drawings can be steadily and confidently produced.
The design process is an iterative process, whereby our clients have plenty of opportunity to review, adjust and approve the work as it progresses.
How much does it cost to hire an architect?
This is assessed on a project-by-project basis, depending on the size and complexity of the design or site and the extent of our involvement. Different fee types are as follows, and any given project may have one or more types for various work stages depending on the circumstances.
When the scope of work is known, it’s much easier for us to provide a fixed fee. This is usually broken down into the various stages of work and weighted by the time required for each stage. However, as much as we think the scope is clear, we would typically need to factor in some ‘fat’ in the sum to account for the possibility of unanticipated additional work.
The fee is calculated as a percentage of the estimated construction cost, excl GST. The fee scales up for the size and therefore additional work required for designing and documenting a larger project. Economies of scale can still apply which can affect the percentage, however – eg. a small extension, which requires detailed consideration and coordination around an existing building will require more time in relation to the size of the project and therefore require a larger percentage fee than a new house.
We would typically only suggest percentage fees for work which follows the confirmation of the construction cost, based on a client-approved design which has received a cost estimate from a QS or builder.
Ideal for open-ended architectural services scope. Oftentimes this is best suited to when a client only has a general idea of what they want, and so it is difficult to forecast the amount of time required to arrive at an approved solution. This is best suited to the initial concept design stage, for managing consent submissions and for our contract administration & observation services throughout construction.
A less typical fee format which we are offering – clients pay a fixed rate ahead of time per month. For clients who have multiple projects or require a long-term partnership with an architect, this can be a very cost-effective way to engage our services.
Subscription fees can be something that developers, builders, other designers & consultants or homeowners can benefit from, depending on their circumstances.
We have multiple subscription packages and rates available for a variety of services.
How do we stay on budget?
Embarking on a home project with the assistance of an architect is an exciting journey. However, managing your budget effectively is crucial to ensure the financial feasibility of your vision.
Our best advice is to start with a realistic budget, which the architect can provide some high-level direction on, and run cost checks along the way. Below are some other tips.
Set clear project goals
Know what you need out of a brief and stick to it, within reason.
Be open about your desired outcomes, your realistic (not optimistic) budget, functional requirements, and aesthetic preferences. By clearly defining your objectives, we can tailor the design to meet your expectations while considering your budgetary constraints.
Be open to alternatives
Consider the value of an out-of-the-box solution we may provide.
The early concept stages present fantastic opportunities to quickly and cheaply test various design solutions. We often recommend quality over quantity.
Review and reconsider as you go
Keep tabs on cost and be prepared to value engineer.
Staying flexible with ideas and ways to achieve the desired outcome with regular cost checks along the way will help you to avoid surprise budget blow-outs.
Consider staging work
If you don’t wish to compromise on the design, stage into separate projects.
We can help you work through the logistics of a staged build to suit your priorities.
Allow us to help you find the right builder, and the right process to do so.
We can run the tendering process and manage contract negotiations.
Manage your risk
Contingency funds are a very pertinent safety measure, which we recommend to all clients. Unfortunately, the majority of construction projects will inevitably experience some form of unforeseen costs, risks, events, or changes in scope that cannot be reasonably anticipated. Keeping a sum aside provides peace of mind, should cost- cutting through various design compromises not be possible.