Why choose a Building Designer over the other alternative?
The term ‘Architect’ is reserved by legislation for those persons who are registered with the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. In many cases, Building Designers offer a similar range of services to Architects. To confuse issues, Architects can operate as Building Designers but not the other way around. Building Designers are required to be registered with the Building Practioners Board as registered practitioners in accordance with the Victorian Building Act 1993. Building Designers also are required to have a minimum professional indemnity insurance of $1 million. Registered Building Practitioners are required to adhere to certain standards including performing work in a competent manner and to a professional level.
Typically Architects charge 10 -15% of the construction cost and for an additional fee can often incorporate tendering for the building process and project management. The more your house costs to build, the more your plans will cost.
Drafting businesses are ideal if you have a straightforward project, know exactly what you want and are keen to minimise cost but are happy to do a bit of homework. Liaison with other consultants such as structural engineers, geotechnical engineers, bushfire assessors and energy consultants will be necessary and dealing with town planning issues and your building inspector.
Building Designers and Architects have training in design, an in-depth knowledge of the building industry and can work with you to find cost effective solutions for your design needs. Qualifications are no guarantee of quality. Ultimately the most important thing is knowing what you want from the service, and choosing someone that suits your project. What may be ‘good’ design to one person may be absolutely awful to another. (in the eye of the beholder) A vast majority of all homes are designed by Building Designers. Value for money is the key objective to meet the client’s objectives.
Why choose Belgraphik Building Design?
Unlike firms who charge an hourly rate or a price based on percentages of the construction costs, at Belgraphik we provide a fixed price for our services before we proceed with your design. As prices can vary depending on the complexity of the design, it is not possible to be specific on pricing details until we have ascertained your particular requirements. This is why we offer a free ½ hour consultation in our office to have preliminary discussions regarding your project and then we will be able to give you a written estimate of our fees.
At this stage we should be able to advise of any other consultants (i.e. Soil report, bushfire assessment etc.) that may be required to be engaged to obtain your council and/or building permits. It is very important for us to check all your details against your local Council Guidelines, Zoning & Overlays to ensure the viability of your project and if a Town Planning permit will be required. Belgraphik staff has extensive experience of the town planning application process and can lead you through every step of the way.
How do I choose a Building Designer that suits me?
We obtain a large portion of our clients through ‘word of mouth’, so check with family, friends or local builders as to whether they can recommend a firm that satisfied their needs & expectations.
It is not essential that your designer is located in the same vicinity or municipality where you project is located, however if you expect any issues with your particular council, it would be best if the firm that you choose had some experience with that region.
It is a good idea to check whether the designer is a member of an industry body such as the BDAV. Always ask for proof of registration as a building practitioner with the building commission. The building surveyor without your designer’s registration number cannot approve your plans.
The highest price doesn’t necessarily mean the best. Analyse your quotes to ensure that the scope of services that are to be provided are similar in nature when making your comparison of quotes.
Always ensure that you enter into a written contract that sets out the terms & conditions regarding payments, timelines & details the precise nature of the scope of services to be provided. A written contract properly detailing the rights & obligations of both parties reduces the potential for any disputes that may arise.
If town-planning approval is required, ensure the designer explains the pitfalls that sometimes occur in making application for planning approval. Planning issues have become more complex and time-consuming and neighbours objections are regrettably commonplace. This can be very frustrating (unless you have been forewarned) particularly when lengthy delays and negotiations occur.
Be sure to choose a designer that you can work with. There is a lot of work ahead and both parties need to be totally honest and upfront in your relationship about all expectations.
Try to be realistic with pricing expectations and understand that to do things exactly how you want them, much time, thought and possibly money will be required.
If you don’t have the budget to complete all of the things on your wish list properly, consider rather than skimping on items, approach the project in stages. This will mean that you will get what you want and the quality of the project has not been compromised.
Where do you start?
Before commencing any drawings, one of our experienced design consultants will discuss in detail your design brief, your needs list and your wish list. For best results be prepared to share a bit about yourself and your family, the way you live and work. There will be many questions our designers will ask to ensure the results of the meeting suit your needs exactly. We are designing for you, not your best friend or your neighbours.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We find that many people find it difficult to read plans and elevations, but are uncomfortable admitting this. It is a great opportunity for the designer to explain the thought processes and reasoning behind the choices proposed.
The design is the single most important element in creating a building, whether it is a new home or a renovation. Building design is a complex task that is best entrusted to a professional. It is not simply a matter of ‘drawing a set of plans’. Every building project is unique and has its own complexities. It is the task of the designer to understand these complexities and maximise the potential of the site.
Try not to be too set in your idea of what the end result will be before you start. It is the designer’s job to push some ideas that you may not have anticipated. Allow yourself some time to think over them and consider them thoroughly..