Rara + Blog = rar-og = Rarog
Rarog = is Slavic for 'Fiery Demon', depicted as a falcon,
and since Rara has a common bird theme, we thought it was only too fitting
and since Rara has a common bird theme, we thought it was only too fitting
I feel like I’ve mentioned this before, but let’s talk about clinical depression … I mean, clinical minimalism.
Again, and I’ve said this before, we’re living in a consumeristic society.
WE HAVE STUFF
So why do we always aim for minimalism in our homes?
Maybe the Scandinavians and Japanese are having a positive influence, sadly not with our shopping addictions.
One of my favourite clients, Rachel, came up to me the other week saying, “I just want my home to be comfortable to live in”. She got it right. She doesn’t care what other people think; she cares about how comfortable and convenient it is to function in her own home. And yes, Rachel should know; she’s built multiple houses now, and I’m fortunate enough to work with her on their final home.
So we had to employ a different design approach to designing in the details.
This is Rachel's House. Yeah, we have an awesome team at Rara.
Here are 6 tips on things you should consider to have a comfortable but pretend minimalist home. (6 is all you get. Want more? Hire an architect).
2. Dumping Ground
It’s not a mud room, it’s not a storage cupboard. Think of it as a walk-in closet situated near the entry, with a section for each family member. Each section has shelves for shoes, hanging space for coats and a deep drawer for a bag or some such. It’s great for an on-the-go family who may need to occasionally shovel everything into said closet because an unexpected guest rolled up.
3. Don’t forget your ELECTRIC toothbrush
Where does your hair dryer live when you’re not using it? Is it near a power point? Is the power point near the mirror? Is the powerpoint behind the mirror, which you need to keep open to have it plugged in… need I go on?
Same applies with your electric toothbrush … put a powerpoint in your mirror cabinet. If you don’t have a mirror cabinet, where are you going to store the electric toothbrush? Apply the same thinking to your valued kitchen appliances.
4. Curtain Call
Along with the furniture, curtains are too often an after-thought.
“Oh, we’re not going to have window furnishings” or “We’ll just have block out blinds”
This is messy... as soon as you realise there is a sun, you’ll race off to Ikea to grab cheap blinds. There’s no room for a pelmet, or it interferes with the way the windows open. After-thought curtains get tangled in with the furniture too. Even if you’re not sure you can afford it, have a discussion about it with your architect (if you don’t have an architect, great! Gimmy a call).
Perfect huh? but without a curtain rod, there'll be a whole section covered in grubby handprints.
5. Study … cos we all need to get smarterThey’re in nearly every house. The hallowed study. Why? Because they boost property value. But even if you don’t work from home, study or have children in school, think of the functional benefit. It’s a place to keep a computer and watch your illegal downloads, a place to keep the keys and bills, a place to store your outdated will kits, which is close enough to pull out whenever the kids are rowdy, but also, and I bet you didn’t think of this, a place to keep the giant NBN box, modem and answering machine (assuming you still have one of those). These days, they function best when part of the main living space, within easy reach and … can have the door conveniently shut to give the illusion of a Zen minimalistic lifestyle.
6. Stream ‘til you scream on that big ‘ol screen
Tv’s are getting bigger and smarter ever day. DO NOT think you’re being clever by building it into a niche in the wall. DO NOT build a cupboard around it that’s exactly the same size and DO run an extra large conduit through the wall big enough for a power plug (plus cables already there) that reaches down to the entertainment unit. That way, as things change, you just chuck your new plug down the hole… like Alice.
Speaking of the entertainment unit, think of how this operates when you’re watching something or using the device stored within. I once designed a compact unit with plenty of space for a DVD player and a couple of other devices, but had no idea my client owned an Xbox … which didn’t fit. A mistake I won’t make again.
OMG. This. Just this fabulous B&O Tv and this room.
So, you’re a property investor?
… which means you want to save a bunch of money on the stuff buyers won’t see, then chuck in the bucks where you’ll get all the bang right?
Ok, I’m going to give you some advice about why an architect gives you bang.
And I’m not just sayin’ that cos I’m an architect or because I’m tellin’ you what you wanna hear. I’m saying this because I do this every day, and no one even realises.
We SAVE YOU MONEY!
Yep, and it’s not because we feel guilty that we’re flogging you with our fees, which, by the way, we’re not. It’s because we’re your appointed representative in the project. So, just like hiring a lawyer and expecting them to make sure they’ll get you the best settlement, we make sure the builder and the consultants don’t take you for a ride.
Eg. 1. A client of mine had a commercial project on a basement level in a building and required disabled access. The 2 options were to install a stair lift for wheelchairs or to go the whole hog and install a lift in the loading dock. The costs, logistics and awkwardness put me off, so I found another solution for my client; to the building surveyor’s satisfaction, we got special permission from the adjoining tenant to use their lift ONLY when required by a disabled person. They accepted, and I saved my client more than $40k.
Eg. 2. We ran over the structural engineering design for a simple rear extension we designed. There was a large window right up near the corner. The structural engineer had decided that the window needed its own column, while the corner already had 2 columns. When we looked into it, they agreed it was overkill and removed the extra unnecessary column. So we saved that client a couple of thousand in that column alone, not to mention the other reductions we made.
We ADD VALUE!
This is my opinion, and there are a couple of organisations currently hard at work trying to prove this; nevertheless, I don’t think you’ll have to search hard to believe me. People often can’t justify hiring a custom designer for something they want made, especially a whole house – which, I can’t for the life of me understand why you would opt out of having your own designer/ advocate/ educator/ friend/ supporter around for the biggest investment of your life, but anyway, I digress –what happens when you sell a ‘custom made something’? people go nuts – everyone wants to run around town telling their friends their home is a one of a kind.
This is my favourite Frank Lloyd Wright building - Robie House. Isn't it just smashing?
Eg. 2. A client of mine purchased their inner-city Edwardian, hired us to design an extension and renovation. Our redesign involved reconfiguration to improve light, add storage and, well, essentially, upgrade the building into a family home. Upon completion, the house was valued and, at the time of the valuation, the property was worth 140% of what the client had invested in 2.5 years. So in this instance, the client was ahead right when she started – By hiring an architect, the client didn’t over-capitalise, she managed to raise the profile of the property so much that it absorbed her investment.
Get this, the two properties mentioned above are a kilometre apart. Both have 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a walk in closet, a single garage and a small deck. Both are on a separate title, both had adjoining properties, equal distances to local amenities and neither are on a main road.
Why is that? It’s because people know the value an architect adds to a property – whether or not they want to pay for one.
We make it WORK BETTER!
Simply put, architects are lifestyle experts. We know how space works, how to use it, when it’s wasted and how to put it to best use. Seems like a no-brainer right?
When people shop for property, they examine it on the basis of how it will specifically suit their quirks, or at least, how they can adapt the property to suit their quirks. Even if a house is smaller than its equivalent counterpart, if it’s well, and smartly designed, it can pack a punch, attracting buyers who can visualise the property meeting all of their day to day needs.
You’ll SELL FASTER!
Again – my opinion here – but seriously, compare the following;
That cute little cookie cutter goes up for sale with little point of difference, there are two or three others in the suburb just like it, so, there’s no real sense of urgency, the buyer knows that if this one sells, they’ll pick up the same one down the track when they’re ready, and cross their fingers for an economic downturn.
That house you’ve driven past, always wondering what it looks like inside .. then rock up to the inspection and realise 100 other people wondered exactly the same thing.
Ya reckon the unique town attraction is gonna sit on the market? I think not. Same applies to your investment. If you commission your development to be architecturally designed, you could potentially have the property sold off before you’ve started building. Why? Because people know a good thing when they see it, and they won’t want to miss out. They will want a piece of that pie that no one else can get. You know this as an investor – SUPPLY AND DEMAND. So, apply the same rule to what you build.
I recently attended a stage show with a friend of mine who's a professional critic. I thought it was great, but she didn't like the show, so i asked her, "What are you going to write?". She said, "I can't say anything negative, because the industry is so small that we'll never be invited to critique a show again".
I reflected on how this mentality affected the architecture industry. It occurred to me that the same thing happens with us all the time too. We're always talking about what's great, then mindlessly use these ideas to death, even when those particular products, details, finishes or styles no longer make any sense.
Instead, i'm going to write a blog post about WHAT NOT TO DO:
Black kitchens have been all the rage for about 2 years now. Please stop. It's just a fad. In a few years time, everyone will be wondering "what were they thinking?". You can easily see all the grease stains on them and it's difficult to see what you're working on because your surroundings are too dark.
Also avoid all white kitchens - equally impossible to conceal dirt and muck, plus the surfaces are more susceptible to permanent stains.
Same same - An aunt of mine loved baby pink. she thought it was soothing, and, even though it was appropriate in a couple of the rooms in the house, I thought it was odd when this colour made its way onto the ceiling of the black marbled bathroom, and even worse, into the 6-year-old boys bedroom - and this boy liked racing cars to boot. I love exploring with different colours throughout the home. It's an excellent way to characterise each space - the library can be a muddy grey-brown, the kitchen can be a mustard, the dining room, a pale teal and the bedrooms can be a warm cream - or anything you like ... the colour in the room motivates and inspires you for the different activity you're about to do there, so have a think about what mood you'd like to be in when you're there and pick a colour that emulates that mood.
Feature walls: People, feature walls are out. don't even think about it. Nuf said.
Built in fridges - are the next big thing in kitchens. It also means, they stay put if you decide to move or sell up. When choosing your built in fridge, make sure it's a brand that is good enough to last long (with a warranty to match) as well as size appropriate for the home. Family homes might need a double door fridge, etc. consider the direction the door opens to - so that the open side is facing toward the kitchen. Also, note that you probably won't be able to get a water function, but may still need it to be plumbed in if there is an ice-cube function.
Microwaves - these convenient little fellas are on their way out - we're all now doing steam ovens because, while they take a tad longer to do the same job, they don't kill the nutrients or risk giving you cancer. You'll need to find another machine to make your pop-corn.
Built in coffee machines - anyone I know who's had enough money to install one of these has thrown their hands in the air in frustration the moment their swanky, 4 times the price coffee machine was superceded by the next fun machine. It's just not worth it. Don't do it!
Pantry - We all need pantries, i'm not suggesting we do away with them, but don't choose to have a 600 deep cupboard full of shelves for all your herbs and spices. Everything that gets put on the back of that shelf will never see the light of day again. Instead, have a pull out pantry, a series of drawers, or a narrow cupboard (300- 400mm deep). In saying that, it's always a great idea to pop a light in there, and also to make room for the unsightly microwave (you don't want your friends to know you're giving them cancer). Now, Butler's pantries... do you live in the country where it takes 2 hours to get to the nearest grocery store? are you worried WW3 will break out and we'll have no food for 6 months? if the answer to those is 'no', then you do not need a butler's pantry ... unless you have a butler and need somewhere for him to sleep.
Waterfall edge - the tacky name says it all.
Maximum porcelain - This is indeed one of my favourite products. The team at Maximum are great to work with, they have an exceptional range of patterns, and of course, look brilliant. I don't even need to try selling the stuff... but wait. This is a porcelain tile - a giant one yes, but a porcelain tile after all. Do not use this as a bench top. It'll crack. It was never intended for that. This is a tile. Put it on your walls or floors. That's it. There are loads of other similiar products suited to benchtops - Dekton for one. or, better still, why don't you go with timber? it'll be warmer to the touch and much more hard wearing. you'll never have to get a guy out to fix a crack, that's for sure.
Joinery: if you have sliding doors (which are sometimes acceptable, but rarely) DO NOT put the drawer stack in the middle. you'll need to open the wardrobe all the way just to grab a pair of socks. You'll realise i'm commenting from experience; unfortunately, i didn't have the luxury of designing this one.
Carpet: nothing wrong with carpet, but just pick the right one. While there have been dramatic improvements to them, synthetic carpets are a nightmare for the growing asthma population. In fact, these are so bad that, if you were 'doin' the house up' to sell, the synthetic carpet could be your downfall (aside from not having hired us). also, drop a match on the floor and there'll be a melted plastic patch there forever. Wool is the best and not that much dearer, especially since we live in a country that produces so much of it. Also, if you have a cat, steer clear of woven carpets and go toward cut pile. cats claws will pull the weave out of the carpet. Be careful of specifying carpets to high traffic areas (especially if you're ignoring me and sticking to a synthetic carpet) because you will see wear marks quite quickly.
Euro Laundries: How neat, you've decided to ignore what your nan told you and take the leap into having a Euro laundry. awesome. just put a slot in for the vacuum and the iron board ... seems obvious right ... ?
Bedrooms: Why do you need so much room to sleep? I did a survey a couple of years ago about what room size people thought to be acceptable. I was astonished to learn that most people thought 4x5m was acceptable. Why? did you want to have a kitchen in your bedroom too? so you can never come out again?
island walls - these look great (not really even that great) in display homes. But that's because people don't live in display homes (PS. stop getting your great ideas from display homes - look at real estate, at photos of homes that are lived in). There's never enough room for bedside tables to fit without them being in the traffic path ... unless your room is 5.5-6m wide.
The following stages are, for budget intents and purposes, non essential ... at least that's what people are led to believe; especially by a builder who doesn't want someone holding them to account.
It's understandable since the next 3 stages are proportionally dearer than those discussed in part 2, but one should understand, having a paid professional who's there to represent the client can ultimately dig them out of some deep holes.
This stage involves a little more than which bathroom tiles and what paint colour to choose. Some examples of what architects will consider include where the lighting goes to highlight room features - that includes the colour, shape and strength of the light; the tile layout on the wall to make sure the lines match up with other elements - that includes what happens when the tiles come together in corners; and which window furnishings will be installed, ensuring there's enough space and structural support to mount them. Architects will ask pertinent questions that clients won't likely consider until, well, it's too late. Then try having the discussion with the kitchen manufacturer during install to change. It's not fun or cheap.
Oversights like this look like mistakes when complete, and, will be too late to fix.
This stage is called 'Contract Documentation' because the drawings documented are used as part of the contract. Often, clients end up in arguments with their builder because of a disagreement about what they believed was or wasn't included in the project. Clients neglect to read fine print (and often don't have detailed documents confirming inclusions) to back them up.
These drawings show what quality of finish, colour, even how many coats of paint are required. If a builder doesn't do everything in the contract drawings, then they're in breach. SIMPLE. Thanks to these drawings, we've been able to request a complete kitchen to be replaced because the laminate wasn't what was specified. Try doing that without the contract drawings. The builder will just say "that's what i quoted". Sure, these mayn't be 'savings', but what about when the architect's specified floorboards aren't installed according to the manufacturer's instructions, then 6 months later, they start popping up, and the manufacturer refuses to replace under warranty because they weren't installed correctly?
If the architect isn't around for this stage, the builder will 'guide' the client. This is risky - the builder is often motivated by how quickly and cheaply they can finish the job. The final outcome has a tendency to look just like 'that investment property' instead of having the finesse the client expected on their pinterest board.
Step 2: The Design Process
The stages involved in designing your home are:
After discussing the client brief, the architect will usually conduct a site measure, then move on to preparing a schematic design. The first design is really there to facilitate a discussion - it will never be perfect. Perfect usually happens by the 3rd iteration.
This drawing is similiar to the Domain liftouts, showing a colourful plan of a house along with some accompanying photos to better define the intent behind the concept.
This stage takes your concept plan to the next level - the architect prepares the external elevations as well as a couple of 3D images. Again, perfect happens at about iteration 2.
TOWN PLANNING PERMIT
Often, clients confuse the different permits required for their project.
Town Planning Permits are carried out by Council's Statutory Planning Department. Council's goal with a planning permit is to ensure that all the developments remain a consistency with that area's identity or character. In other words, Council is involved in how the proposal impacts the street and the neighbourhood.
The applicant does NOT need to be a registered building practitioner or architect. The owner must, however, give consent (If someone purchases a property with a 3 month settlement and hopes to lodge a permit during the settlement, this is ok provided they obtain a signed document from the current owner).
A town planning permit is not strictly required for ALL projects. This depends on the zoning of their building, as well as the overlays (if any) that affect the site or area. A Heritage Overlay is the most known, but there are around 50 different overlays that cover all sorts of issues. One thing to look out for are the "Schedules to an overlay" or "Schedules to a zone". For example, a property might be in a standard 'Neighbourhood Development Zone'. This zone is generally the same across all Victorian Councils with minor variations. In this instance, the proposed design might have a minimum 40% garden area according to that zone. The Schedule, however, is an addendum to that zone, which may ask for a minimum 50% garden area on the property. The schedule overrides general zoning rules.
The Architect's town planning submission will address these schedules in the report as well as in the town planning drawings.
After the drawings are completed and submitted, Council may request to advertise the project to neighbours. If the project meets all of the rules stated in the planning scheme (often referred to by Professionals as Clause 54/55 OR ResCode), then clients have nothing to worry about if a sour neighbour places an objection. I have read the funniest objections from angry neighbours. One was from a woman who lived a few streets away and her complaint was that she believed the proposed building was ugly and didn't want to see it when walking her dog. Council will generally dismiss these objections, but that doesn't mean they can't take it further to VCAT. We often recommend that clients try to please their neighbours or settle things amicably. For example, if a building is overshadowing a neighbour's house, offer to pay for a skylight. Sometimes, neighbours will object and even go to VCAT to delay a project because they have plans to sell their own property or carry out their own renovation. I would try to suss this information out.
The whole Council process tends to take 6-12 months. The more detailed and informed the planning submission, the faster. At Rara, because we complete planning permit applications so frequently, we know what Councils will generally accept or deny. We also know what information they'll ask for, so make sure to include this in the initial application. A single query from Council could delay the process by 2 months. A minor change can delay the process by up to 6 months.
We also take it upon ourselves to chase them up, discuss the planner's intention, especially with what they call 'Conditions'. A planning Permit may eventually be granted, but with conditions. Sometimes the conditions are so drastic that the design needs to be drastically changed.
This is the other main permit that most people will confuse with the planning permit.
Unlike a planning permit, almost ALL projects require a building permit - even a backyard deck.
Building permits today are carried out by private building surveyors. The building surveyor will still lodge an application (on the client's behalf) to the Building Department at Council, but generally, Council's Building Department no longer deals with the public. The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) provides licences to building surveyors (and builders) and resolves disputes.
Many builders have their preferred building surveyors, and will recommend organising the building permit instead of letting the architect carry it out. This is generally fine if the house is less custom designed, but harder for the architect to control if taken out of their hands at this point.
A warning for the wise - i've experienced some 'suspicious' builders who insist on using a particular building surveyor - to the point that they convince the client to fire the original building surveyor to hire theirs. This suggests to me that the builder may intend on cutting corners they know their surveyor will overlook.
The Building Surveyor's job is to grant a building permit for the drawings, allowing the building work to commence. during construction, a building surveyor will also inspect the site at important check points to authorise the work as being consistent with the permits.
The building surveyor has a lot of power - they are hard to fire and, at their command, request newly built walls to be demolished, or even worse, put an access ban on the construction site. my advice would be to always be respectful, honour their requests, and use a recommended surveyor. Surveyors can be suspicious of an unknown builder or dodgy client, so can really comb through paperwork and demand many additional documents. some building permits have taken a year to get because our building surveyor didn't trust the builder, so he wanted the documentation to be especially detailed.
More in the next blog post :)
After some recent discussions on a Facebook group called "Building, Renovating and DIY Forum" about what next to discuss, it became quickly apparent that there's an interest in learning more about the process of building... well actually, the bit before the building part. So i'm going to give you a guide through this process, what you can expect, and what you should look out for when undergoing this process.
I've broken this up to multiple blog posts to keep the articles short enough and to avoid information overload.
Feel free to comment or ask questions.
Step 1: Choosing your Architect
Architect vs Draftsperson
There are many articles on the subject of whether one should use a draftsperson or an architect. Unfortunately, most of these are written by folks trying to place the draftsperson on an equal footing and inevitably end up undermining the gained skills of the architect in the process. Let's set this straight.
a) An architect has completed 5 years of training to learn HOW to design - this includes how to respond to challenging briefs, history, construction law, construction methodology and environmental impacts. In contrast, a draftsperson has spent 2 years in training and is taught how to draw, not how to design.
b) An architect manages the whole project. After designing the building, their job is to make sure the builder knows how to build it and, that after it's built, it stays standing. The architect finds the engineers and organises all the permits for the job, then goes on to make sure the builder has everything they need during the build. A draftsperson will draw your house, hand it over to the client and, well, they then have to figure out the rest. Sometimes, clients justify their choice for a draftsperson because of the lower fees. Often, during the permits stages, there is a need to make changes to the drawings to meet compliance. Clients should factor in that they will often pay the draftsperson double, if not triple the quoted fee for making these changes, not to mention having to wait in line because the draftsman is busy for the next 3 weeks.
c) like a lawyer, architects have a code of conduct and an Act. Like a lawyer, we have to meet stringent requirements to be registered, pay insurance and registration fees, as well as maintain professional development training. Why does this matter? Because as architects, we take on the responsibility of what gets built. While draftspeople also need to be registered, their obligations and indemnity is lower. This point highlights how seriously architects take their client's projects.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked when speaking with a potential client is, "Have you worked in my Council before?". I'm here to explain that it doesn't matter. All architects registered with the Architect's Registration Board of Victoria (ARBV) are qualified to work in any Council jurisdiction. Also, the planning scheme guidelines are very similiar, and any responsible architect SHOULD conduct a council pre-application meeting before they lodge, so you have nothing to worry about. While all architects are qualified to do all jobs, they tend to drift into particular niches - medical centres, shopping centres, houses, skyscrapers and offices generally won't all be mastered by one architect (except for the huge firms).
Instead, what i would ask an architect is, 'how many projects have you done in my budget range?'. If you have a high end budget, you want to make sure that the architect understands what you expect in terms of the detail, and if you have a low end budget, then you want to know that what they design is indeed realistic and not crazily over. The same applies to any particulars of your project - how many medical centres/ subdivisions/ owner-builder/ 3+ storey, etc.
Circle peg for the circle hole
When you interview your architect, make sure you get along. Unlike the structural engineer (for example), your architect will determine how you live, where you keep your socks and what you look at when having breakfast - if you all don't see eye-to-eye, then find someone else - there are plenty of great architects, but the whole process will be frustrated if your architect thinks there needs to be a banquette and all you want are dining chairs, or if your architect keeps choosing black finishes (Guilty) but you want daisies and melon walls.
I may get in trouble by my fellow architects if i am too specific - many architects charge differently.
The spoken rule of thumb is that architects charge around 10% of the total construction cost.
This is an old rule and architects are constantly confronted by baffled clients who had this expectation. In the past few decades, architects are slowly being asked to produce more and more. You will all know this if you have access to the original hand drawn architect drawings completed in the 70's. The whole house could be drawn in 2 or 3 pages. Architects back then charged 10% of the construction cost. Famous ones a little more.
Today, a contract package includes about 40+ pages of contract drawings, 2-500 pages of specifications, engineers documents as well as the planning permit drawings, which now require several 3d drawings and multiple revisions to cater to the quickly changing construction laws. Architect's fees should be sitting around 14-15% for jobs between $400k-$1.2m. The percentage then rises as the job gets smaller, and drops as the job gets bigger. Typically, the same hours of work is involved in a $250k job as with a $700k job.
If you happen to have two adjoining properties and your total spend is greater than $1.6m, expect to be quoted for 2 separate $800k jobs, since these will involve separate permits and drawings.
This percentage is then divided by the various stages (see future blog post regarding stages) and often billed monthly based on how much of that stage was completed. It's all a bit confusing. Even more so when the cost estimate of the job creeps up and subsequently the fee gets adjusted to reflect the new budget.
Some architects charge hourly, especially if the job is small or the final outcome not entirely known. Expect hourly rates to be in the area of $200 per hour.
Some architects, like my practice (www.raraarchitecture.com.au), charge a fixed fee. So clients know how much they need to budget for the architect from the start of the project - this is often important because architects fees tend to be paid off before the construction loan has been approved by the bank. Of course, if there is a change in the scope, the client will need to pay for the extra time spent making adjustments. In our office, the fixed fee also includes responding to Council, consultants and the building surveyor (who grants the building permit). Look out for sneaky architects who only quote up to lodgement (to Council or building surveyor), then charge hourly to address these responses - often the hourly fees paid addressing responses exceeds the original fee. Also, check the wording of what's included in the lodgement packages - more of that in a future blog post.
There's often a question of "who owns the drawings if..."
Ultimately, the architect always owns the copyright of your home design. You're then given permission to use that copyright one time for the site it was designed for in exchange for an agreed fee.
So let's say, half way through the building permit a client decided not to go ahead with the build and due to their changed circumstances, decided not to pay the invoice due to their architect, but they have a Council planning permit that their architect completed (and that the client paid for) which might boost the sale of the house. In this instance, the client's copyright license is revoked until ALL unpaid invoices are paid in full.
If the client completed a stage that was paid for in full but then decided to carry out the rest of the project with a draftsperson (a choice i would never encourage), they may do so as long as they get a 'release', which is just a letter from the architect, confirming that they have indeed paid in full and retain an express license to use this design. Some architects find terminating the contract midway through the project disruptive to their workflow, especially if it's a small practice or it's a large project, so they may have a termination clause involving a termination fee to be paid to the architect. Most architects I know, however, won't have this.
Cart before the horse
Moments after signing the agreement, i'm often asked "when do i get to choose my carpet and tiles?" as the client waves their phone with a Pinterest page at me. clients shouldn't be offended if the architect avoids entertaining them. There are many steps (and many months) involved in the project. Everything will happen in the necessary time - the architect will address what is required at that stage - otherwise, the architect will spend hours listening to requests that aren't relevant to one stage, then have to listen to them all over again at the future stage.
The future post will run through stages and what's included.
PS. there are a so many fads these days - often clients will have 1 choice at the beginning of the project and completely change their mind by the time construction commences.
Ok, i trust this covers the main questions people have when looking for an architect. Look out for Step 2 - Stages coming soon.
Hi there, ok let's do a sun lesson one-o-one.
There are many misconceptions concerning room orientations, glazing, eaves and north facing properties, so let's get a few things straight.
1. If you're BUYING A NEW HOME, no doubt you've come across "North-facing block" as part of the agent's sales pitch. Darlin' forget it! A North facing block is the worst orientation you want for your home.
Because, the space you spend most of your time in - aka, the open plan living/ dining / kitchen i'm going to design for you is located at the back of the house and is south facing, subsequently, always in shade - especially if you have a pergola or covered deck. Meanwhile, your front rooms - i.e. master bedroom or study will sizzle during summer. You want a south facing block. you also want your bedrooms to face south or west - this will mean they're extra warm from the afternoon sun during winter and not the other way round. Yes, your home's facade will be in constant shade, but that just means it'll look extra scary on Halloween.
2. We all want the outside to come in to the house, especially if the back garden looks great, but that doesn't mean we want NO WALLS AT ALL. Having walls along the back of the house means you have somewhere to hang artwork, as well as a space to hide the ugly bbq and piled up alfresco furniture in your backyard. It also means you can landscape and decorate sections of your yard instead of committing you to tending to every square inch of the space. More importantly, too much glass, especially on a north or west facing wall is a really bad idea. It'll force you to pump the AC all summer long and won't stay cool because most modern living spaces are large open plan and involve a lot of traffic to the outdoor space, allowing the cool air to escape. Consider pockets of windows in different areas to allow you to look out from each part of the space, windows on opposite walls for cross flow ventilation, and, my latest personal favourite, floor windows (i.e. windows that sit on the floor and only go up to your knees), allowing you to admire the garden bed while also having wall space to hang artwork (or the TV).
3. While DOUBLE GLAZING is the next big thing since sliced bread (well, not really - most Europeans would laugh at this as an innovation), it is not your solution to warding off the summer sun - if you have too much glass, no number of glazed layers will stop the heat or cold from coming in. The most efficient way to stop the heat is to block it before it comes in - i.e. an external blind.
4. What about EAVE? Eaves are tremendously useful, as are correctly positioned arbours - you will need to get your architect (moi) to perform a sun study that demonstrates the effectiveness of these. The goal here is to position it to block summer sun (at a higher altitude - zenith) while letting in the winter sun. Some people think that extending a 400mm eave to 600mm will make all of the difference. In fact, no. In most cases, especially when the window faces east or west, the difference of extending the eave by a further 200mm will only be a few minutes of additional shade. Sometimes, calculations often show us we need to extend the eave by 4-6 metres.
5. SKYLIGHTS - took me a few years to stop calling these 'sun-roofs'. If you fell for the sales pitch and live in a dark north facing house, consider a small investment in a sky-light. These cost between $2,000 to $5,000 installed, and you can get all sorts of bells and whistles like remote control blinds and rain sensors.
6. the Japanese COURTYARD. If you have already gone down the path of engaging an architect, for your renovation, one thing you'll notice is their affinity to use courtyards between spaces. I'm a staunch advocate for this - courtyards let the light in, allowing individual rooms in your home to have cross flow ventilation and sunlight at different time of the day. this also means you can have different outdoor spaces you can landscape differently, giving you different sites from each room. Yes, this reduces your backyard a little, but seriously, when was the last time your kids went out there and played cricket?
In the race to possess the most fabulous home of the time, we need to anticipate what will be on trend in the future.
The perk of built-in furniture is that your life becomes integrated with the house - We move away from having objects that service us to having one home that gives us all we need. We aspire to have smart homes or homes that have such seamless finishes that they look ... well, unlived in.
This comes with a price; and not just a monetary one. Trends change so quickly now that the last thing we want is to consider undergoing a full refurbishment only a couple years after the last ...
All just so you can have the matte finish instead of glossy
Here are some beautiful on-trend examples of built-in furniture today (depends when you're reading this post).
On the other hand, we can venture into the world of ... wait for it ...
You can acquire custom and bespoke pieces that make each room in your home unique. But these also come with a price tag. Yes, you know what i'm going to say - you need to adopt a Japanese lifestyle and own nothing - you must accept that you can no longer shovel your junk into a closed cupboard, and your whole wardrobe consists of white shirts and tennis shoes.
From now on, you must only own matching things and gently decline any gift that will ruin your carrara marble decor.
For those who can pull it off ... guess what! you can sell your bespoke piece as 'retro' next year when you decide to upgrade your freestanders for the matte finish. Plus you get to enjoy shopping each year.
We all love a restored heritage property and have come accustomed to hearing the expression "with heritage charm and character". But in the blur of mixing new with old, and doctoring your castle-ette to suit a modern lifestyle, are you going so far in your refurbishment efforts that you're stripping away all morsel of character?
I'm here to tell you to hang on a sec before you buy 100 litres of Dulux Vivid White.
If you, or your future buyer are charmed by a Victorian heritage property, then don't be scared to commit a little more. Bring in some Victorian furniture pieces, including the old cedar and oak chests and freestanding wardrobes. Keep the old fireplaces (and by keep, we don't mean install gas).
It mayn't fit just because it's OLD
Also, be mindful to do your research - there are different eras of Victorian, plus multiple other styles. Architect's and other professionals more versed in heritage architecture will be able to tell when you've mismatched elements of the style, and to us, it becomes a heritage soup. once you've nailed the style, there's also the class status. You won't typically find an original marble mantle in a single fronted weatherboard Victorian with only two rooms. As much as we love a marble mantlepiece, overreaching is just tacky.
You don't want your lifetime investment, and your pride and joy to be a laughing stock do you? Get an architect to guide you through the choices and a colour consultant to direct the colour choice that is palatable and historically relevant.
Climate change is a REAL THING !
We ALL need to address it, otherwise we will lose valuable resources we now love and enjoy in abundance.
Yours and the architect's choices in the early design phases will shape how much of an imprint your home will have on the environment. We go beyond the material to choosing where it comes from ... yes, we consider how many resources are expended in bringing your Italian Carrara marble all the way from Italy to your kitchen island bench ... which is why we ask, "are you sure you don't want the local stone instead?".
But wondering if it's a fad in architecture is nevertheless a legitimate question. Gone are the days where "Sustainable" was akin to a Swiss Family Robinson tree house. Rest assured, you can have a modern house with sharp angles that is also sustainable because it addresses the sun orientation, maximises available natural heating, ventilation and cooling on the site, and utilises resources (sometimes freely) to reduce the building's footprint.
Your architect has enough knowledge to pull of these materials, resources and building methods together -
A brick wall is a brick wall is a brick wall
They're not all the same, and even then, how they're built plays a major role in their performance ... not to mention, achieving the aesthetic you're after.
First things first.
When undergoing a permit process, you will be asked to engage an energy consultant for an energy report.
The consultant is great at giving advice and making suggestions, but often, innovative building solutions are not options in the drop-down list on their software, so don't fret if you think you've gone to a great deal of trouble and only achieved a 6 star rating. The truth is, if your architect got it right, it'll perform far greater than the report says.
Today, thanks to an abundance of home-reno shows, most people have a developed knowledge of building design. More and more people are starting to realise the importance of sustainability in design and incorporate it in their homes. This is often driven by market demand (but we're not judging), and has no apparent sign of falling from favour.
On that front, it's not a fad.
But a lot of people are also starting to realise that ... well ... it's just smarter.
Ignoring sustainable design is the equivalent to building a fire on the kitchen floor to heat up your dinner (which is ironically more sustainable, but will burn down your house).
The facility is there, so let's use it!
The team at Rara are a dedicated but diverse group of individuals who love architecture and design. We each have different sources of inspiration that come together when we collaboratively design your homes and businesses.