1. Are you registered as an architect?
Yes, both with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession as well as with the Institute of Architects in both personal capacity and as a corporate member.
2. Do you only design modern (or traditional) buildings.
We design buildings to suit our client’s taste: Personally we have a contemporary outlook, but as can be seen from our portfolio we are proficient in both more traditional “styles” and contemporary buildings.
3. We know your residential buildings, but do you do other buildings as well?
Nico’s background is actually in commercial and industrial buildings and he still does a certain amount of these on a regular basis. If you look at the website you’ll see several other buildings as well.
4. What is the hallmark of your typical residential buildings?
Airy, open plan homes, with almost all habitable rooms facing north, incorporating nature/ landscaping and indoor/ outdoor living areas seamlessly flowing together.
5. Do you do additions and alterations?
Yes, we do many of these and have a proven expertise in this field.
6. Do you have a minimum size building you’ll design?
Our minimum fee is Fifty Thousand Rand.
7. Why do you charge a deposit to see new clients?
All professionals charge for their time, as this is how they make living: Any doctor or lawyer will charge you for a consultation whether you use his advice or not. We charge the deposit to avoid having non-serious clients wasting the architects’ time: The deposit is deducted from the plan fee if you proceed with plans.
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. See “Fee structure” for our current fees.
9. How long does the process take?
Usually, 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. Obviously estate approvals, building line relaxations, sub-divisions, etc., can delay this further. The approval period is used to go out to tender, to enable building to start as soon as the plans are approved.
10. Do you do project management?
No….If you are thinking of formal “Project Administration” we usually recommend a quantity surveyor to handle monthly payments and all the other administration aspects, thus acting as “principal agent”. We visit most of our closer sites at a two weekly interval to monitor quality and resolve any design issues that may crop up. (A lot of good ideas get generated during these meetings!) The frequency of site meetings depend on the speed at which the works are proceeding, the proficiency of the contractor and the paranoia of the owner (wink). If the site is located far from Johannesburg or Cape Town we normally try to attend site meetings once per 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 building for an agreed fee, usually entering into the industry’s standard contract, the so-called JBCC contract. A project manager can operate as either your representative (“ principal agent”) or takes the place of the building contractor, enabling you to build as a owner builder while he acts as your agent and appoint and supervise subcontractors and order materials, etc. There are also project managers who act as principal agents, overseeing the work done by the contractor: These are usually employed on bigger contracts.
12. Do you do interior design?
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. We heard about your interior retail shop?
Yes, we have an association with M Square Lifestyle Necessities in Illovo Square, who supplies furniture and interior accessories. Most of the products are unique to South Africa, as they directly import small quantities of the more exclusive furniture and accessories from around the world, most of which are not stocked by any other store on the African continent.