Why hire an Architect?

What are the different stages of a construction project?

Practicing architecture and interior design in Hyderabad since the last 8 years, I have had the opportunity to interact with multiple clients and working on a variety of projects.

One of the most common topic that is a part of our initial discussion is explaining the role of an architect & interior designer in any project and understanding the site & clients requirements. Most owners have vague ideas of their project and minimum knowledge about what an architect offers to the project. One of the major reasons is it was only in 1983, just 35 years ago, that the Government of  India recognised the minimum qualification for practicing architecture and incorporated it in the ‘Architects Act’. So generations of people have a tough time understanding what value an ‘Architect’ can offer that an ‘Engineer’ cannot.

To understand this let me briefly run you through the different stages of constructing a building.

The important entities for a successful project are

  1. Client
  2. Architect
  3. Engineer
  4. Contractor

Larger Projects need the support of the Structural Consultant, Interior Architect, Landscape Architect, Project Management Consultant, Lighting Consultant, MEP Consultant, etc.

The Design Brief establishes the starting point of the project, giving the architect precise details.

What is a Design Brief? It is a summary of the project from the owners point of view. For example, if you plan to build a workplace, details such as number of employees, any special workstation requirements, number of printing stations, number of conference rooms, seating capacities of conference rooms, company’s vision, office theme, data & cctv requirements, etc are a part of the brief.

Have a budget and include it in the brief up front. This is an essential parameter to avoid redesign and redrawing details after receiving the construction bids. 

This process of compiling the design brief will also provide clarity to your vision and expectations of the project.

This document can then be shared with architecture professionals before you meet them in person. This ensures a productive first meeting as it begins with how to execute your vision rather than discussing the mundane requirements.

Hiring a Design Team is the next step. On discussing the design brief with different architecture professionals you can assess their technical proficiency, which will help in  finalising the design team. A good architect should have basic understanding of building services, structural design and materials.

It is a good idea to understand the architects style of work and hire their services only if it suits your taste, as it is important for you to trust the architects decisions. Some architects have signature styles while some are flexible to accommodate your requirements. Communicating with your architect is key to ensure the design is customised as per your needs.

Decide the design teams ‘scope of work’ in detail before signing an agreement. Design is the beginning whereas the execution and working on site is what decides the final outcome of the project. It is important that the design team is involved during execution.

On finalising the architect, it may take a week to months time, based on size and complexity of the project, for the Concept to be ready.

Conceptual Design is the first translation of your design brief. As the design brief is compiled after a lot of thought, the concept design is usually in harmony with your vision.

The Architect has to work in tandem with the Engineer to ensure structural feasibility and to identify the best suited construction method for the project. Any major modifications, if necessary, should be made at this stage to make sure the project moves ahead smoothly. A few iterations can be compared to finalise the concept.

Design Development – The finalised Concept is now supported with necessary detailed drawings and 3D images. Please note, after the details & drawings are ready, every small change made affects an entire set of drawings, so it is important to be clear while concept finalisation and initial design reviews.

After a couple of design review meetings, the finalised design and documents are discussed with the consultants involved in the project like HVAC, MEP, Structural consultant, etc. Any modifications suggested by the consultants are made while maintaining the design intent.

Tendering Based on the specifications and details finalised above a detailed Bill of Quantities is prepared that can go ahead for tendering. (A tender is a formal invitation to different contractors to submit a bid for the project execution). The contract is offered to the bid that is best suited for your project, based on the type & scale of past projects executed by the bidders. Please be mindful that the lowest bid is not always the best bid.

Documentation & Building Sanctions/Permissions For New Buildings and Building Additions/Renovations necessary sanctions are to be obtained from the concerned municipal authorities. The building plan scrutiny & approval process is now supported by an automated system called AutoDCR. It reads CAD drawings and generates scrutiny reports as per the local norms and the NBC (National Building Code of India). The drawings are to be made in a particular format to run through the AutoDCR software.

The Architect can provide these drawings or you can hire an Architect/Engineer who is enrolled with the local body where the site is located, for obtaining necessary building permissions.

The building permissions website for GHMC limits is http://dpms.ghmc.telangana.gov.in/BPAMSClient/

and for rest of Telangana is http://dpms.dtcp.telangana.gov.in/

Construction & Execution After receiving the necessary approvals, the construction begins on site. Supervision is of utmost priority during the execution. Check with your design team if they will be appointing someone on site and to include it into their fee or hire a project management consultant. If not, include architect site-visits at major milestones in the project with constant co-ordination via phone or email.

During construction it is easy to make spontaneous on-site decisions, however don’t be surprised when the budget goes over what was decided. These decisions also delay the on-site work as the design team would require time to redo the construction details for the same. Always take on-site decisions carefully looking at the entirety of the project.

If you think you have more questions about the process or what is involved when working with an architect, please feel free to contact me directly –

All the best!

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