Designing Your Dream Home – Many people will, at some time, contemplate employing a professional to design their dream house or business.
A dream home in Mooikloof.
Let me explain the process:
Firstly, it is about deciding who you choose to design: Do you need a Professional Architect (PR. Arch) or a Professional Architectural Technologist (Senior or Junior), or a Professional Architectural Draughtsperson?
Each of these professionals work on different levels of design/ draughting. Professional Architects usually study for five or six years, with two years practical training, and need to pass an examination before being duly registered.
The other categories have a varied background, from three to four years university or technical university to in-house training at architectural offices.
Having decided on the level of competence required, a professional in that category needs to be identified. Each professional decides on the fee they charge: The South African Council for the Architectural Profession has recently published a new guide to fees after a lull of many years: https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.sacapsa.com/resource/collection/7E4759E1-870D-4483-A3F9-8020ADDFFD2A/43591_07-08_NationalGovernment_1_.pdf
However, this is a guide only, and design professionals can set their own fees.
We operate differently from other practices in that our fees are based on the area under roof, not cost. This means the client knows exactly what their fee is going to be from the outset and does not need to wait for the tenders to establish the final architectural fee.
The way we conduct new enquiries is to set up a meeting, either in person or digitally via Skype/ Zoom, etc. We work through a brief with the prospective Client, and at the same time present our work which gives them a good insight into our high level of design.
At the end of the meeting, we produce a printed brief and contract, detailing their requirements, and an estimate of the design plan fees and other relevant costs.
(One thing to remember about luxury homes is that any estimate depends on many variables)
Once appointed, we start researching, such as acquiring a copy of the zoning certificate, surveyor general’s diagram of the property, building lines, private estate architectural guidelines, if applicable, etc.
In certain instances, we consult with Town Planners regarding rezoning, expected town planning controls in the event of a rezoning, and whether a rezoning is expected to be opposed or supported by the local authority.
When we have received all the required information, we confirm with our Client the feasibility of the project and under what conditions.
If our client agrees, we proceed with the first sketch designs. These are explorations of the layout of the building, taking into consideration the brief, orientation, views, entrance, fall of land, existing trees, etc. Once we are satisfied that we have reached a feasible and sensible solution, we present it to our Client for their perusal and input.
A typical sketch plan
Thereafter our Clients’ feedback, input, and comments are incorporated into the design and again presented to them for approval. Occasionally there are several iterations before the final layout is agreed upon.
On approval of the layout, we proceed to define the 3D appearance of the building, developing the concept to create a well-proportioned building. Again, we go through an approval process with our Client, often changing aspects of the design several times until all parties are happy.
Two iterations of the same building.
At this stage, many private estates require the submission of plans for the first stage of scrutiny and approval.
When both our Client and design team are confident that we have a good product, we proceed with the working drawings. We ensure that the structure can be built from our drawings and that all information the Quantity Surveyor, Builder, and Structural Engineer may require are indicated on the plan. We also need to ensure the plans comply with the National Building Regulations and any supplementary information required by the local authorities.
Because we work globally, and our designs are detailed and sometimes complex, we need to supply enough information to ensure projects run smoothly.
During the working drawing stage, we meet with Structural Engineers and obtain quotes to do the structural design, as well as any other required Consultants. Due to the large expanses of glass we use, we need to employ professional Energy Consultants on all our projects to confirm we comply with the energy regulations. We also discuss interior design with our clients to establish what they require, and if they want to proceed with interior design by M Square Lifestyle Design, our interior design company.
A typical Floorplan: Sheet 1 of around 18 sheets.
Our specifications are detailed to make sure that the work gets built to the high standards our clients expect and include approximately 80xA4 documents and 3xAO sheets of standard details.
For the construction phase, we recommend the appointment of a competent Project Manager to act as Principal Agent in terms of the building contract. They manage the appointment of Contractors, Sub-Contractors, and Consultants, as well as the financial and programming aspects of the contract, which can become quite complex. Usually, the appointed company includes Quantity Surveyors who help to establish a budget and specifications to meet the desired final cost.
A finished building: On this project, we drew nearly 2000 sections to build the steel forms.
On completion of the working drawings, we go out to tender to qualified Builders, including Consultants’ drawings, while also submitting the plans to private estates, if required, and then to the local authority for approval.
We attend to any changes or clarifications required by either the private estate or the local authorities, and on approval, the appointment of vetted Contractors in conjunction with the Project Managers.
Once the plans are approved and the tenders are received, the Project Manager adjudicates the tenders and makes recommendations to our Client regarding the appointment of the Contractor.
When the Contractor is chosen, many selected and nominated Sub-Contractors also need to be appointed. Quotes are obtained by the Project Manager, adjudicated, and considered.
During the construction period, we are often asked for amendments by our Clients and more details by Consultants or Contractors.
We often assist the Project Managers or Principal Agents to draw up defects lists, which are issued to the Contractor for rectification during the construction period and before our Clients take occupation.
Interior design and furniture by M Square Lifestyle Design. (Victoria residence)