A solid working relationship is first and foremost.
I build relationships with my clients long before they sign a contract with me. That's why learning about you, your project, and your budget is fundamental.
Here’s a run-down of how I work.
next step - arranging a meeting
During this meeting, we’ll discuss your vision for the project in terms of not only a brief (list of desired spaces) but also look/feel and the financial components that make up the overall project brief.
Because we live in the real world and generally funds have a limit, much of this conversation will purely revolve around budget in order to give you some realistic construction figures for the home you desire before making any further commitments.
It’s very much a two-way street, you need to like and trust me as much as I like and trust you. I’ll be honest with you as to whether or not I’m available and interested in your project before we get too far.
If after this meeting we are both keen to take the next step, I will send you a copy of the KMA Project Information Package.
the KMA Project Information Package
This informative document gives you a run down of the full design and documentation process, my fees, deliverables and project milestones. In this document I also provide you with a simple project readiness checklist and questions to assist in preparing your design/project brief including expected building costs, external consultants required (eg. Town planner, structural engineer) and time frames for the design and build.
THE DESIGN + DOCUMENTATION PROCESS
During the pre-design stage, we’ll confirm the brief as outlined in the project planning package. These may have changed slightly and that’s ok, it’s all part of the process. I’ll visit the site and analysis its topography, vegetation, aspect and outlook. If the project requires a survey I’ll get that underway or if the project is a renovation, I’ll commence with a measure up of the existing. This stage is all about gathering information about you, your family and lifestyle but also in regards to council and site-specific requirements relating to how the house will occupy the land.
I’ll ask a lot of questions to assist me in what you are looking to achieve as an end result. Some clients are also very visual, so I’ll also help you with setting up a virtual (Pinterest or Houzz ideabook) or physical scrapbook to collate your thoughts. This helps me as much as it helps you in consolidating the ideas you may have for the project as I can see the subconscious patterns emerging by the images you’re drawn to.
2. Sketch Design
This is where we start the design process proper. Following on from the initial information gathered in the pre-design stage I’ll visit the site, develop concepts, discuss planning layouts and options based on your brief and budget. I’ll work up sketches and diagrams and present you with my concept based on our discussion.
My job is to interpret your brief and turn that into a design concept that works not only in a pragmatic sense and sits comfortably within its landscape, but also evokes a sense of delight for you.
Sketch Design Project Cost Check
Using costing information from current and past projects of a similar nature and scale, I’ll give you an indication of build costs for the concept presented.
3. Design Development
Based on the concept we arrive at within sketch design, I’ll keep layering more information such as materials and finishes. This is the stage where we also go into more detail of the interiors such as kitchen and bathroom details. I will put forward selections for all elements of the project inside and out.
At the end of this stage you’ll have a pretty clear picture of what the end product will look and feel like.
Design Development Project Cost Check
Now that we have more information on the materials and a clearer idea of the desired layout, I’ll engage the services of an independent cost estimator to prepare a cost check of the design presented.
4. Construction Documentation
This is where I translate the previous stages into a set of drawings and schedules suitable for building approval, tender and construction in conjunction with the consultant's drawings (for example structural engineer).
Think of it as the ‘how to price and build this project’ manual. I don’t leave things open for interpretation or let the builder decide on fittings or finishes. Everything is coded and detailed so that we know when the prices come back in, it’s for what has been documented and not what the builder thinks you may want.
Construction Documentation Project Cost Check
During the tender period the independent cost estimator will be called upon again to provide a more detailed estimate which can be used as a cross check against the builder’s quotes received during the tendering process.
Putting the project out to three invited builders to quote on is generally what most clients choose to do. I have a list of builders I have used in the past but I’m also willing to work with your recommendations if they meet my criteria. Once tenders are back and an initial review has taken place, I’ll help you make a decision to narrow it down to your preferred builder (not always the cheapest) and undertake further conversations to ensure everything has been included and identify any cost savings that you could take advantage of.
There are other ways to select a builder such as choosing and working with one from the initial sketch design phase. This is a great way to get real-time feedback on the design plus allows the builder to familiarise themselves with the project so they can hit the ground running when construction starts.
6. Contract Administration or
construction phase services
Once a builder has been selected and the building approval has been issued the project will start on site. If you’re local we’ll set up some regular site meetings or if you’re interstate or overseas I’ll keep you updated via meeting minutes and regular phone calls or virtual catchups. If there are any variations or queries by you or the builder they will be discussed and an outcome determined between the three parties if and when they arise.
I never switch off just because the drawings are done, during this stage I’ll work closely with you and the builder to identify and take advantage of any aspects where we can improve the cost, design or built outcome via additional details or methodology. At the end of the build just prior to handover we’ll walk around the project together and conduct a defects inspection, identifying any issues or omissions that the builder will need to complete prior to you taking possession. Once addressed, then the place is all yours.
How long does the process take?
To be clear I don’t design ‘floor plans’, that’s not what working with an architect is all about. The design process is holistic and complex with your brief and budget at the forefront which is why it can take many months to design and document. When I design, I’m not only thinking about the relationship between spaces in a floor plan sense, but I’m also considering the overall scale and form of the building, the materials, finishes, and how it relates to the site, and most importantly how you want to live.
Pushing around rectangles on paper is not a thoughtful design. Designing a floor plan first then working out how it looks in elevation (or vice versa) is also not a good design process. Designing with no consideration or respect for its location, aspect or orientation is also not good design.
Custom-designed homes are just that, fully custom-designed and built from start to finish to your specific requirements to suit your site and your budget.
Generally, a new home will take anything from 18 months to 3 years to complete from initial discussions to you moving into a finished home. The construction period alone for a new home takes 9-12 months depending on the site (access and topography) and the complexity of the design. Don’t forget obtaining town planning approvals, coordination of consultants, and the tendering process. I admit this is a long time and that won't suit everyone, but rushing the process isn’t in your best interest in the long run. If you're lucky you may shave weeks or months off the overall process but in doing so you run the risk of missing a great opportunity or having to live with a hastily made decision. I always suggest to my clients to take the time to understand the concept/drawings. Mentally walk through how you’ll use the space and definitely sleep on it before giving feedback.
How do you keep the project budget on track?
In the very initial stage I’ll base the overall size of my design by a realistic square meter rate based on past experience of local projects of a similar size and nature. This is rough but it forms the framework to get further costing from. Once we have resolved sketch design I’ll engage a building estimator to obtain a preliminary costing. This process is then repeated at various stages and is then used as a cost check against the builders quotes. This process is included as part of my service.
How are your fees calculated & what does it include?
My fees are based on a percentage of the construction budget which are then spread out across the six project stages. If you’d like more info or would like to chat about your project please get in touch.