Like any new relationship, knowing how to choose the right architect for your home renovation is a combination of things. It requires well-matched chemistry and due diligence to reassure yourself that all the boxes have been checked. Here are some things to consider:
Settle on a budget and stick to it! As you know, budget is usually top of mind for anyone about to build or renovate.
Narrowing down your budget
Test how much to spend on your renovation by looking around at property websites such as www.domain.com.au and www.realestate.com.au. Compare the current value of your home with existing properties in your suburb that more or less match the design style you want to achieve.
Let’s say, you currently live in a one-bathroom post-war cottage and you’d like to add a master suite, family room, and deck. Finding as many recent sales of comparable properties as you can, can help you budget. Simply subtract the current value of your home from the value of the renovated property. This gives you a rough idea of how much your maximum spend on the renovation should be. Any more than that, and you are overcapitalising.
Decide on a comfortable spending limit
What can you afford to spend? Consider available finance options and how you will repay the debt incurred. Obviously, this is a personal decision that only you can make. However, your decision becomes very important when entering into discussions with potential renovations architects.
Decide if you only have a fixed amount to spend. Your architect needs to know your budget upfront. Then they can speak frankly about what you can and can’t achieve within your budget. Equally, you need to know what your budget will buy.
Use online calculators
Archicentre Australia, formerly owned by the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) and now in private hands, aims to guide and educate property owners. They have free resources for home buyers, builders, renovators, business owners, and property investors, amongst others. They provide resources to teach property owners about the benefits that architects bring to your project.
Archicentre’s free cost guide is regularly updated and is available to download at https://www.archicentreaustralia.com.au/resources/cost-guide/
Property website House Ace also has a renovation calculator at https://www.houseace.com.au/calculator/
These guides are general in nature and offer an overview of industry pricing, rather than exact figures. Both Archicentre and House Ace provide you with some starting figures for your discussion. And it costs nothing to get an initial conversation started. This is a homeowner’s first logical first step in choosing the right architect.
You should feel reassured that your questions are being answered honestly and openly by the architects. Full transparency is important. You need to know that what you want is achievable within your budget and your time frame. Understandably, honest feedback is more valuable than getting the answers you want to hear.
Evidence of completed Brisbane renovations
Tread carefully, given your inexperience in the world of renovations architecture. Always ask to see examples of the architect’s previous projects. Especially those projects that are similar to yours.
Most Brisbane architects will include completed projects on their website. Ask for the addresses so you can drive by the properties. If possible, talk with the owners of the renovations that are similar in size and scope to yours.
Consider whether the scale, scope, or standard of their past work meets your own needs. Ask them whether they finished on time and on budget.
Check that your architect has a full network of certifiers, engineers, builders, trades, and designers that will be required to complete the job. Most importantly, make sure that you’re not paying a premium to access this network.
Choice magazine’s checklist
Lastly, read Australian consumer advocate Choice Magazine’s, excellent article from November 2017, titled ‘Five steps to house plans that won’t blow your budget: How to make sure your architect delivers design plans that you can afford to build’.