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Architect problems so thinking of changing.

(12 Posts)
TravelHappy Thu 18-Apr-13 09:31:38

I’m hoping some of you might be able to advise me on a problem we’re having.
We instructed an architect some months back after getting some quotes, checking references and seeing previous work. After some really good reviews we chose one and gave him a detailed brief on what we need. I even drew out a preliminary concept myself with approximate measurements and sent it to him. What we landed on was almost exactly the concept I'd originally suggested with a change of approach on the roof. From that agreement it took him over a month to complete the drawings for planning submission. It was a matter of every week there being a promise that it would be delivered by the Friday and of course it wasn't. We aren't talking about an elaborate design and remodel here - just a two storey box on the back of the house.
When we eventually got the plans there were so many careless errors it took me a day to go through and detail them despite really wanting to submit them promptly. He then submitted the application and I'm afraid I've now spotted what I think is a pretty big concern.
In addition to the rear extension we need to expand the original attached garage as it is only large enough to squeeze in an Austin 7. On my design it would be extended to the side and rear. This was discussed extensively with the architect as we'd like to maintain the original roof form. In the plans submitted it shows an extension to the front i.e. building out from the original building line as well as to the rear and side. I know the planners tend to refuse alterations that change the building line and also the build would be more expensive than the original concept.
I've contacted the architect to let him know of the problem and I'm waiting to hear back. At this stage I am completely dissatisfied with the quality of service he has provided. Has anyone had an experience like this? Would you recommend trying to work through it or part ways with architect? Does anyone know of a good architectural technologist or house designer that would do work in the Surrey area in case we decide to make a change? My inclination after this is to give up on architects entirely.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

orangina Thu 18-Apr-13 09:49:13

My advice for what it's worth (and I am an architect), is to get your planning application submitted and decided, and the part ways. There is so much chemistry involved in the architect client relationship for private residential work. It sounds as though you no longer trust him or her to deliver either what he promised, or what you understood to have been agreed, and the planning process is relatively stress free compared to what lies ahead!

I would also advise not letting this experience put you off architects altogether. They do add value where a plan drawer won't, in terms of design etc. They also (should) hold a level of insurance and will act as Contract Administrator, in a way that a plan drawer will not do.

If you see yourself as designer of this project, and are happy to Project Manage the builder and deal with the contract, by all means, hire a plan drawer to get your information down on paper. But I would warn you that I have picked up the pieces on a number of occasions where the role of the architect (and a decent one who does his or her job properly) is totally underestimated. Project management and/or contract administration are skilled jobs that require experience to get right, so if you are going down that route, I would advise you get someone with the correct skill set in to help you.

In my experience, an architect can save you a great deal of time, money and hassle. The current architect you have doesn't seem to be doing that at present, so I would part ways, but don't give up on the profession altogether.

Hope that helps!

orangina Thu 18-Apr-13 09:58:49

PS: A family member recently went through something similar in that they ended up sacking their original architect (who had done lots of work in the area and been recommended etc) who had done a bit of a rubbish job on the original design concept/pre-planning, and hired another architect who did a brilliant job and saw the project through to a successful completion of works on site. So it does happen, and it is worth not giving up on the profession as a whole!

architectming Thu 18-Apr-13 10:01:03

Well said orangina!

From a fellow Architect...

orangina Thu 18-Apr-13 11:06:38

smile your name gives out a bit of a clue....

TravelHappy Thu 18-Apr-13 16:58:19

Thanks everyone for your replies. I'm a bit wound up about this as I'm expecting our first child at the end of Aug or start of September. The plan is to move out for 6 months while we have the work done as it isn't just an extension but also a modernisation job. I wanted to be building (and out) by some time in July. I've spoken with the council and I think the problem with the plans can be fixed without causing a delay which is good news. This issue I'm wrangling with is should I keep using the architect for the futher stages. Everyone says that architects add value in terms of design quality, consulting on the build process etc and this is exactly why we hired one. I'm not convinced he has added any value in terms of design. The plans are almost exactly as I drew out in powerpoint before instructing him. He did make a beneficial change to how the roof joins the existing building but that is all. It was me that figured out that there will be no windows in the kitchens (just glass doors which won't be practical to open for ventilation once we have children unless we want them escaping!). It was my suggestion that we use venting rooflights. He agreed but made no alternative suggestions. He made some pointless and expensive remodelling suggestions that put a WC with a door onto the living room with no real discernable benefit aside from a slightly more "open plan" feel. This was despite me being clear in the briefing that I hate open plan. I thought he was listening and open to what we wanted in the initial meetings. From the references and meetings we had with former clients I thought he would be professional and do a quality job. I'm now feeling really let down and unsure what to do next. My major concern is continuing with someone who is not QAQCing thier work before sending it to a client saying that it is ready for submission. If the quality of work was the same for the building regs and the tender then either we'll have big problems with the build or I'm going to have to swot up on what should be what so I can QAQC them again. I'm concerned now that moving away from using him or using him and being bottom of his list will result in further delays. Also, the total cost of using him will be about £10k. I'm not convinced that will be money well spent.

betterwhenthesunshines Fri 19-Apr-13 08:55:52

I've used architects on 3 house renovations. Just finished the last one.

The design and planning stage took over a year as we always seemed to be at the bottom of the architect's to-do list. However we continued as his design was great. He pulled out at tender stage so we went ahead with a surveyor/contract administrator. This cost the same as the architect's fees for this stage would have done as the architect fees are heavily weighted towards the front end of the project.

I believe this has cost us in terms of finish as the architect's have not been in the position of administering the contract they prepared. There are a nuber of points in the specification document that the builder is disputing and these have all cost us money.

I'm glad we didn't go ahead with them as relationships had got fairly strained and I do feel the CA has been good, efficient and easy to deal with, but I do feel we lost out overall which was a shame as the fees they received were in excess of £10k. The devil is in the details!! You can't see all this on paper, but believe me you can see it in the finished work!

LittleFrieda Fri 19-Apr-13 09:09:46

I love my architect. Although we were clear about our objectives, likes and dislikes, he came up with things that vastly improved our design. BUT since gaining planning permission, I've realised he's hopeless at the paperwork stuff. We are currently out for tender and what I've seen of his admin skills makes me wonder if he is the right man to project manage.

I would user him again for design work though.

betterwhenthesunshines Fri 19-Apr-13 10:44:46

I loved my 2nd one. Also not brilliant at admin, but very easy to talk with, had great relationship with builder and as a result the entire job (6 month complete renovation including extension up and out) was a joy. Sigh <remembers fondly compared with current builder where everything is a battle despite it all being WRITTEN IN THE SODDING SPECIFICATION>

architectming Fri 19-Apr-13 14:58:11

I am glad to hear some people have good experience on using an Architect, but seems like we need to up our game on Admin / Contract Admin.

Have to admit some architects only want to do the design bit but don't want to bring it on site, personally I like to see through the whole thing if the client is up for it. And Yes, I am pretty good with paper work and dealing with builders!

TravelHappy, sounds like you need to get through the Planning stage with your present architect, then I would get someone else to do the detail design / on site stage for you. Believe me, you wouldn't want to get phone calls from the contractor when you have your little one.

Good Luck.

zayafulaton Sat 23-Sep-17 22:45:07

hello travel happy

i had the same problem with my architect. he was just calling me up and taking money from me left right and centre. please be careful as architects are quite expensive and charge an arm and a leg for everything. i was searching on-line for a technical draughtsperson in the field of planning law.

there are loads of company’s out there that provide architectural services for homeowner like you at a fraction of the cost and without making these kind of errors which you look like you have been going through.

do a google search "discount floor plans or discount architects" and you will find various architectural technicians to help you on your project.

i wish you all the best.

regards zaya.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 24-Sep-17 09:17:26

Zaya hopefully travel's build is all over and done with as this thread is over 4 years old.

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