1. Do you only design in South Africa?
No, our offices are based in South Africa, but we are an international company and have designed all over the world.
2. Do you do interior design?
Yes. We have an interior design company called “M Square Lifestyle Design” which specializes in interior architecture. They will quote you on whatever element you want them to design.
3. Do you do additions and alterations?
Yes, we have done many additions and alterations.
4. Do you only design modern (or traditional) buildings?
We design buildings according to the client’s requirements. Whilst we predominantly have a contemporary outlook, we are also proficient in both traditional styles and contemporary buildings.
6. What is the hallmark of your typical residential buildings?
Most of our designs are airy, open plan homes that have habitable rooms facing the north. We also incorporate nature/ landscaping and ensure the indoor/ outdoor living areas flow together seamlessly.
7. Do you do project management?
No. However in terms of project administration, we usually recommend a quantity surveyor to handle monthly payments and all the other administration aspects, thus acting as a “principal agent”. We visit most of our closer sites every two weeks to monitor quality and resolve any design issues that may crop up, in fact a lot of good ideas often arise from these meetings. The frequency of site meetings depends on the speed at which the work is proceeding and the proficiency of the contractor. If the site is located far away from Johannesburg, we attend site meetings once a month. We charge an hourly rate for this, as set out in our fee structure.
8. What is the difference between a contractor and a project manager?
A contractor enters into a contract with you to build for an agreed fee, usually entering into the JBBC contract, which is the industry’s standard contract. A project manager can operate as either your representative (principal agent) or building contractor, enabling you to build whilst he acts as your agent by appointing and supervising subcontractors, and ordering materials. There are also project managers who act as principal agents, overseeing the work done by the contractor: They are usually employed on bigger contracts.
9. How long does the process take?
It nomally takes roughly three and a half months, depending on the size of the building and the clients’ input/ response time. Council approval depends on the different councils, but can vary between two weeks and several months. Factors such as estate approvals, building line relaxations, sub-divisions, etc can delay this further. The approval period is used to go out to tender, this enables construction to start as soon as the plans are approved.
10. Are you registered?
Yes, Nico van der Meulen Architects as a corporation is registered with both the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) as well as the South Africa Institute of Architects (SAIA). Nico van der Meulen, owner and founder of the architectural firm, is also registered with both in a personal capacity.
11. Why do you charge a deposit to see new clients?
All professionals charge for their time, as this is how they make a living: Any doctor or lawyer will charge you for a consultation whether you use his advice or not. We charge the deposit to avoid people that waste the architect’s time. The deposit is deducted from the plan fee if the client proceeds.
12. Is your fee structure based on a percentage of the building cost or per square meter?
To simplify the fees, we charge a fee per square meter.