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Building Designers or Architects
5 critical tips to hiring the best team

Designing a new home or building is an exciting project. It’s a big investment too. You want to make sure you have all the information necessary to make wise decisions. 

You’ve no doubt heard the term ‘architecturally designed’. It has a nice ring but unfortunately it’s pretty misleading. Many people assume they ‘need’ an architect or architectural services to design their house. What you actually need is the best, most experienced and skilled professional.

Building designers and architects are equally able – legally, practically and professionally to do the same level of design. The only difference is the
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title associated with their qualification. To dispel the confusion, give you the facts and help you make the best decision possible, we’ve outlined 5 critical tips to hiring the best team.

Critical Tip # 1: The proof is in the pudding – it’s all about the skills 

When you dine out at a new restaurant, you might be interested in who the chef is, how long the place has been around and what kind of reviews it gets. Right? But what will make you go back? The quality of the food and the level of service.

It’s exactly the same in the building design industry. You must first and foremost look for proof that the architect or building designer you choose has the requisite skills. Ask to see their portfolio. Talk to them not only about the design but about the building process. Are there similar projects they’ve worked on that illustrate they have the goods to get your job finished – and to an outstanding level?

Above all, get a sense for how easy they are to deal with, how much they listen to what you want and how transparent their process is. The last thing you want is an individual or team who places their own importance above the needs of their client.  The best architects and building designers put your needs first.

Critical Tip # 2: Your project is unique – look for pragmatic creativity 

You want a creative approach and excellent design. But this alone is not enough. The team you choose must also have the skills and know how to turn that design into reality. The most stunning design in the world is meaningless if it can’t be built. It’s a bit like a time machine or cloak of invisibility – lots of fun in an imaginative sense but no use in the real world.

Be wary of architecture firms or building designers who seem to be overly ‘in love’ with their own designs. The focus must be on you – your vision and what you need from the project.

Great design doesn’t stop at the structure itself. The best architects and building design professionals also understand the practicalities of local building regulations, legal, planning and permit requirements and broader concerns such environmental issues.

Critical Tip # 3: Who do want on your team – the balance of education and experience

The needs of your project must be at the centre of every decision. Experience, education and skill should be relative to your project. There’s no point selecting a highly educated individual with no experience in realising similar projects. An academic with a PhD in aeronautical engineering is probably not the best choice if you’re looking for someone to pilot your aircraft.

Let’s set things straight about the question of qualification. An architect is not ‘more’ qualified than a building designer. To use the title ‘architect’ in Australia, a professional must be registered with the Architects’ Board of the state or territory in which they practice.

To register as a building designer in Australia, an individual must lodge an application with the Building Practitioners Board (BPB). Both professional bodies have skill and competency requirements that must be met.

As for where a degree or qualification comes from it’s like any other profession. Academic study is a useful way to gain foundation knowledge in any field. But what really counts out in the real world is experience, expertise and relevance.

Critical Tip # 4: Smoke and mirrors – falling for false prestige over earned reputation 

Building design is a creative industry. And as in any creative field, egos may come into play. Some professionals place prestige over reputation. Real prestige is earned from runs on the board.

What do you think of when you read the name Martin Scorsese? New York University ’s film school? Probably not. More likely Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Boardwalk Empire. Because his phenomenal reputation was built on years of outstanding film making, not the prestige of the institution he attended 50 years ago. 

The true greats in any profession don’t rest on the laurels of their background, name or qualification. They rely on hard work, passion and a rigorous commitment to quality.

Critical Tip # 5: The bottom line – make sure price and value line up 

A quality project requires a quality investment. Don’t fall into the trap of basing your decision on price alone. An architect or architectural designer might only provide you with designs. You will then have to source a separate team to build the project.

It’s essential that you consider the entire life cycle of the project, including who is going to liaise with your builders and how much expertise they have in this crucial area.

The price you pay for a building design team or architectural services must be commensurate with the value they can provide. Again, this is not just about a beautiful design. This is about how much experience they have, how equipped they are to guide the project, how well they communicate with other professionals – such as builders, and what kind of assurance they can give you about bringing the project in on time and on budget.

If you have any further questions about building design, the process or the industry, please contact us. We’re happy to talk through any queries and help you make informed decisions that will result in a wonderful new home or building.