It may be counterintuitive but getting a building designed during the lockdown period is a very good idea. Architects are also not allowed to open their businesses and building sites are mostly closed and they have far more time on their hands to design, ponder on a solution and tinker with a plan than they usually would.
New bush lodge: Steel and glass near Hoedspruit by Nico van der Meulen Architects.
Steel and glass Bush lodge, Hoedspruit, by Nico van der Meulen Architects
Instead of seeing clients, builders, and reps from suppliers they can sit and think about the design and fine-tune the plans.
Clients also have more time to spend studying and understanding the design presented to them. This may lead to designs that are better suited to their needs.
Concrete, steel and glass house in Tampa, Florida by Nico van der Meulen Architects
Professional home office. The Concrete House, Bedfordview, by Nico van der Meulen Architects.
Another point to consider is whether the design suits the new reality post-COVID-19. Working from home may become the new norm. So, a proper study/ home office may be a “must-have”, as well as a gym to exercise at home.
Home gym. The Concrete House, Bedfordview, by Nico van der Meulen Architects.
Kid’s study, The Concrete House by Nico van der Meulen Architects.
An area for children to play safely or do homework may also become necessary. After school activities (or even school itself) may not be possible for a long time to come.
The other result of the lockdown may be the availability of builders and materials post lockdown. Many of the small builders who could not weather the extended lockdown period may have gone out of business, while the ones managed to survive are going to be remarkably busy trying to catch up on projects that were delayed. Manufacturers were also in lockdown, and can only partly re-open, which results in a shortage of building materials.
This, together with the weak currency may cause an artificial situation where there will be too much work for the remaining builders and a sharp increase in building costs. The usual result is that everyone who has a bakkie and a wheelbarrow is instantly a builder, with disastrous consequences to the owner of the building. This was the situation in 1981-2 when there was a sudden growth spurt in the economy.
Tampa House by Nico van der Meulen Architects. Plants are used for solar control.
Those who foresee this and have their design completed and ready to start once the builders can open may be in the fortunate position that they can enter a contract before the melee ensues. Now builders are wary of the economy for the foreseeable future and are pricing projects soberly. We are currently going out to tender on several buildings, intending to start building as soon as possible. We are also finishing off several other plans in preparation to submit as soon as the local authorities re-open.
Steel, glass, and concrete used in a renovation at the Vaalriver by Nico van der Meulen Architects