Uche often also works for larger government agencies like Kainga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) and MBIE (Crown Lands programme) in a Design manager (DM) capacity to manage the agencies briefing documents and evaluate designs for alignment with the brief.
How does the design process work?
The design process defines the cost, quality and time parameters of each project and we work with cost experts like Quantity surveyors, builders in our network and rely on our previous design experience to guide these aspects of the project. This a critical part of our design philiosophy, we do not believe that you can design in isolation and then go to the market for prices, you need constant cost feedback during the design process. We typically go through five phases in the design process
One of the most interesting aspects I enjoy about running an architectural practice is the way it brings me into contact with such a a wide of clients. The first meeting is always free and it can be over the phone, but I prefer where possible to meet in person to better understand what your project needs and what you are trying to achieve and what value I can bring. Each project and client is different needs and so it is hard to generalise but I have outlined the process that we tend to go through in most of our projects to help clients that haven’t used an architect before (many of our clients haven’t used architects before they come to us, so you aren’t alone in not knowing where to begin… let hope this guide helps you)
STEP 2: BRIEF & CONCEPT PLAN BY UCHE
The architectural fees for each design phase is based on the project complexity and cost and varies with each project. Before we start any work on your project we will send you a fee proposal outlining all architectural fees and other project costs for your approval (e.g. consent fees, engineers fees etc). When this proposal has been accepted by the client we proceed with the first phase of design – the concept sketch.
The concept sketch is often portrayed as a loose “architects” sketch – but its much more than that. It sets the direction of the cost and so is a critical first step in the process. All our concept sketches are have indicative costings by a qualified Quantity surveyor to establish that the ideas not only meet your needs, they can also be built for your budget.
We take factors such as the site’s topography, soil conditions, flood planes, local zoning laws, and building codes into account to determine the optimal way of building on the site. We collaborate with clients to consider the site’s potential for solar orientation, shelter from dominant winds, optimising views, and other relevant elements that may influence the design of the home.
It usually takes 3 to 4 weeks from client approval for us to produce a concept plan (sometimes less for smaller projects). The concept plans also sets out a road map for project delivery and advises clients on what consents are required.
STEP 3: DEVELOPED DESIGN BY UCHE
In our experience, the way the clients see the project changes as restrictions and opportunities become apparent and so the project changes over time gradually morphing into the project that we build. The developed design is the phase where we flesh out the details and materials and forms that not only excite and meet our clients needs but also fit within the cost and qualityn framework set out in the concept plans. Its a very important phase and often involves many meetings with the clients (at their homes, our offices, at design outlets and agencies etc) looking at different materials, colour boards and design options.
STEP 4: CONTRACT DOCUMENTATION BY UCHE
The next step in the project is drawing the “architects blueprints” that we submit to the council for building framework and send out to the builders for final pricing. These drawings influence the delivery process. They need to attribute risk and minimise the unknowns – otherwise there are likely to be lots of changes and cost escalations during construction.
We work with a small network for highly skilled builders and contractors. It’s important to choose the right builder for the right project. Many residential building sites in New Zealand are poorly managed and there is a lot of down time from weak sequencing of trades and project planning that the ends up costing clients money. I rely on good contractors with great systems to deliver on time and to budget and we document and detail all our projects meticulously to support the builders we work with.