1. 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.
2. DO YOU ONLY DESIGN MODERN (OR CLASSICAL) BUILDINGS?
We design buildings according to the client’s requirements. Whilst we predominantly have a contemporary outlook, we are also proficient in classical styles.
3. DO YOU ONLY DESIGN RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS?
Nico van der Meulen Architects has a background in commercial and industrial buildings, and still does some of these on a regular basis. Several of these can be seen in our portfolio.
4. 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 seamlessly flow together.
5. Do you do additions and alterations?
Yes, we do many additions and alterations.
6. Do you have a minimum size building you’ll design?
Our minimum fee is R100 000.
7. Why do you charge a deposit to see new clients?
We charge a consultation fee to keep the more serious people involved with Nico as he spends a lot of time with the client, giving invaluable expert advice and ideas.
8. Is your fee structure based on a percentage of the building cost or per square metre?
To simplify the fees, we charge a fee per square metre.
9. How long does the process take?
This usually 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. 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 or Cape Town, we attend site meetings once a month. We charge an hourly rate for this, as set out in our fee structure.
11. What is the difference between a contractor and a project manager?
A contractor enters into a contract with you to build the property 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. He can also act 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.
12. Do you do interior design?
Yes. We have an interior design company called “M Square Lifestyle Design” which specialises in interior architecture. They will quote you on whatever element you want them to design.
13. Tell us about the interior retail shop?
We have an association with M Square Lifestyle Necessities in Illovo Square, the shop supplies furniture and interior accessories. Most of the products are unique to South Africa, as the store directly imports small quantities of exclusive furniture and accessories from around the world.
14. Do you only design in South Africa?
No, our offices are based in South Africa, but we are an international design firm.
We have projects all over the world and deal with many international clients.