Where to Start – Part 1Should I Use an Architect?
Sadly, too often we meet people who are at the beginning of their new home building journey and are already so distraught with the whole process that they want to sell their block of land and forget about it all!
This really saddens us because at Stroud Homes we have a firm belief that if done correctly, the process of building a new home can be a fantastic endeavour that everyone should have the opportunity to take part in. In order to learn where to start you first must know what to avoid.
Because we have so much to say on this topic, we have split this post into three parts! The first point to avoid is using a designer/architect:
If you’re like us, you love Grand Designs UK. Almost every project on that show utilises an architect, so Australians think that when building a new home, you should talk to a designer or architect.
Do not fall into this trap in Australia! The reason why the architect or designer work so well in the UK is because they have a completely different system of building residential homes.
In the UK, the architect is the builder, they oversee and run the job from start to finish and in most cases also do the quantity surveying/estimating of the costs. This means if something goes wrong with either the design or the cost of the job, the architect is held responsible.
Sadly, this is not true in Australia. Believe it or not an architect in Australia not only has nothing to do with the build after they have overcharged you for the plans but is even protected in Australia by what is called ‘Architectural Privilege’. This is a law that means no matter how much they stuff up your build and your life no one can touch them!
In Australia, this creates a massive gap in the care, knowledge of build costs, and responsibility that a designer/architect take in their designs. We often see budding new home builders that have been ripped off by a designer/architect for drawing up the design only to find that it needs to be thrown in the bin. This is because the owner is unable to afford the build, or worse a design fault is realised during the build which is the fault of the designer/architect and because of the protection laws, the owner has to take the whole bill to remedy the design flaw.
By all means, a designer or architect can come up with beautiful designs that can work really well, however please be aware that there haven’t been too many positive experiences that we have dealt with. If you do want to go down this path, you will need to do your research!
Because of the disconnect that the designer/architect has with the construction process in Australia, you’ll benefit greatly from engaging a builder who is passionate about design and can offer you a choice between a custom or standard plan.
If you pick a standard plan from a builder’s catalogue, that builder is always going to own that plan so be mindful that you won’t be able to build that plan with another builder. However, other builders usually have plans that are very similar in their own catalogue, so this isn’t usually a big issue.
If you’d rather a custom plan design, we suggest you get in writing from day one that you will be able to build the plan with any builder should you choose to. If you don’t get this permission from day one you can spend a lot of your time and money designing the plan, only to find that you can’t use it with anyone else thus allowing the builder to charge whatever they want for the construction of the plan.
It is extremely important that you get the builder involved from day one and ensure that the builder, owner and designer/architect are working together as a team to ensure what is being drawn is going to be able to be built to your budget.
We know it was quite the read, but, it is extremely important! It will hopefully be clear that the correct place to start your new home journey is with a builder who you have researched thoroughly (refer to Where to Start – Part 3).
Ask the awkward questions from day one and be upfront. Building a home is a huge investment and you should be able to ask a builder the tough questions for peace of mind. Who should you trust? To find out, read Part 2 here: