Working With Architect On Your Property Development Project

In this article, I’ll explain the role of the Architect and how to work with them on your development project.

Astute investors and property developers know that in order to be successful they can’t do it all on their own.

They surround themselves with qualified and experienced professionals who can provide invaluable support and assistance throughout their investment journey – their “A” team.

Property development involves many varied aspects and as such, requires a good support network that consists of a designer/architect, engineers, surveyors and a strong leader to pull the whole thing together – the project manager.

Then of course there are the builder and tradespeople.

All of these industry professionals will help you to make your development dream a reality and avoid too many nightmares along the way.

In this instalment of our series on property development, I will examine the important roles the architect plays and exactly how they can ensure your development gets off the ground and becomes a real money spinner.

Keep in mind though that the buck always stops with you.

It is your responsibility to lead your “A” team to the pot of gold at the end of the development rainbow.

What does the architect do?

Most people would naturally and quite rightly say, “Architects design buildings”.

But a good architect does much more than that.

A good architect can coordinate all of the design consultants, assist with the town planning process and even supervise the construction phase of your project.

In fact, it is likely that when working on your project they will be involved with:

• Site selectionWorking on your project
• Feasibility studies
• Designing and planning
• Managing the building budget
• Selecting and managing the project team
• Interior design
• Landscape design

Not all architects will undertake this type of full project management; however, there are some who will be willing and able to manage your entire project from start to finish.

Ultimately your needs will be best met if you take it upon yourself to learn all the necessary skills to run your projects or alternatively and perhaps more appropriately, employ the services of a project manager rather than an architect to drive the development.

Project managers tend to be more practical and budget-driven, while architects are more, let’s say…“creative.”

Additionally, a reliable project manager will free up your time so that you can focus on finding the next best property investment or development for your portfolio.

Working with an architect

A good architect will add considerable value to your project by designing a product that will be appealing to your target market and appropriate for your end goals, whether you intend to tenant or on-sell the completed development.

Some beginner developers try to save money at this stage and enlist the cheaper services of draftspeople.Beginning developers

You should realise though that investing a little more at the important design stage of your project means you have a better chance of ending up with a development that has good street appeal and a proposal that should work its way through the council and the permit application process much quicker.

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Note: As I have already cautioned, tread carefully when it comes to handing over complete control of your project to your architect.

Although they will be a critical part of your team and lend necessary creative vision to the development, many architects do not take into account important factors such as the final cost or complexity of construction.

That is why you, the developer and the rest of your “A team” should have strong input into the design phase without limiting the architect’s options or treading on their toes too much.

This will ensure that the whole team comes up with a financially viable project.

The role of the architect or designer in your project involves 3 distinct aspects:

  1. Town Planning, including drawing up an initial concept scheme and completing detailed town planning drawings for submission to the council.
  2. Preparing comprehensive working drawings and coordinating necessary consultants such as geotechnical, structural and civil engineers.
  3. Administration of the building contract and supervision of the construction process in some instances.

Selecting an architect

Word-of-mouth recommendations from previous, satisfied clients are one of the best ways to source a good architect for your project.

Alternatively, you may have seen a development designed by a particular architect that you admired and thus decided they would be a critical part of your “A” team.

Once you know which architect you want to employ, arrange a meeting with them to discuss your specific requirements.

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Tips: Explain the services you want them to undertake and be sure to enquire about the fees you will have to pay.

Bear in mind that they will only be able to give you a cost estimate at this stage as the project parameters have not yet been determined.

Make sure you feel comfortable with the architect and the responses they provide to your enquiries because you will be working with them for a year or more.

Ask them to provide you with a list of their recently completed projects for you to look at as well as the names of some past clients to contact for a professional reference.

Finally, ensure the architect is a member of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects so you know they are fully qualified, industry professionals.

The Architectural Brief

After selecting your architect, the next step is to provide them with a brief.

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