Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Where do we find a great Architect? - June 2011

We already had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do with the house, it helps that we got to look in about 100 similar houses and see all the things we didn’t want to do. I now think that people do a shitty renovation and sell the house or do an amazing renovation and keep the house for 10+ years – well maybe shitty is a bit harsh but we did not see one house where we thought they got everything right or even nearly right. The closest we found while house hunting was this lovely place in Rozelle but we felt it was a bit too small (and had a big tree in the backyard that Leichhardt council would never let you remove) but it did have a pretty good layout and use of space.

So we sort of knew what we wanted to do but we both thought we would need an architect to bring our ideas to life. We did think about using a draftsman but we are both really wanted someone who would focus on the details and didn’t think a draftsman would include provide this level of service and so we might not be happy with the end result.
Looking for an architect is not that easy if, like us, you don’t have any friends who have carried out major renovations in the Inner West and in particular dealing with Leichhardt Council (who are known to be very difficult or thorough depending on your view). So we did the only thing we both experts at – we searched the internet looking for Inner West architects and checking out their previous projects, we also used the Leichhardt Council DA tracker to find architects who had carried out projects that we thought were similar to ours and had similar budgets (more on that later). We narrowed down a list of candidates to:
  1. Jeff Karskens – Building Designer
  2. Impact Design and Construction
  3. TW Architects
  4. Trevor Hall Architects
  5.  John the Architect
For ease we called them contestants 1 to 5, so contestant 1 plyed us with red wine but unfortunately did not instil much confidence in me but Mr R (who loves red wine) thought he was a winner, contestant 2 – neither of us felt he was on the same wave length as us, contestant 3 was great but talked a lot about volume and what we knew we needed was floor space – you can’t sit in a void can you?, contestant 4 more serious (I was a little scared), didn’t laugh at Mr R’s jokes (which weren’t in fact funny) but was very detailed and seemed to get exactly what we were looking for, contestant 5 charged for his visit and well it was a waste of money. So it was between Mr R’s pick, contestant 1 and my pick contestant 4 and after much discussion I won but the price would be that I would have the relationship with the winner and Mr R could take a back seat. So the winner was (is) Trevor Hall - award winning architect (small building award). FYI – the prices for the architectural services varied but not by much and we already knew about what the costs would be (10-15% of the build cost) so we were mentally prepared - also we didn't really base our decision on cost as I suppose we could have saved $5k going with the cheapest but we didn't think it was worth the risk.

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