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Any architects in the house (groan) - Is this acceptable?

(23 Posts)
9GreenBottles Mon 06-Mar-17 15:54:46

I'm hoping one of you Mumsnetters might be an architect, or have used architects, and could give a bit of feedback about what I should expect from the architect that I've employed (I appreciate professional discretion and all, but I don't know if I've got the right expectations because I can be a bit of a control freak at times ).

We are wanting to have an extension built and had rather lofty ideas which we discussed with the architect we chose and then decided we had to scale back a big bit when we talked to them about the cost. The architect came back to survey the property, we talked about what we weren't going to do (to knock down and rebuild or convert a bit of the property) and I tried to write a comprehensive list of requirements at that point, and sent it with a couple of drawings I'd created in Sketchup as the kind of idea of what we wanted. The first draft came back, was in the wrong names (Mr and Mrs 9GreenBottles as opposed to Ms 9GreenBottles and Mr X - and that was after I'd corrected them previously about Mr X's first name on a previous email and made sure that we both signed the contract) and it included a conversion of the room we had said was out of scope so we asked for a further draft.

I'd also given some feedback about specific sizes of rooms, and positioning of doors linking the existing building to the new extension. Now the second draft has come back with smaller rooms and made a corridor to link the doors where I had said I hadn't wanted one (we needed a route in and a route out of an existing room and I had said I wanted the two doors to face one another so that a future buyer could put in a stud wall if they wanted to convert the rooms into bedrooms).

Can anybody tell me if this is normal architects artistic licence, or inattention to detail, and how many times is normal/acceptable to send a draft back and say "can you move that please?"

9GreenBottles Mon 06-Mar-17 16:35:49

I'm just looking even more closely at the drawings with a ruler, and whilst we asked for wheelchair accessible doorways (futureproofing for old age), they haven't done that either - that is poor isn't it?

JT05 Mon 06-Mar-17 16:41:48

You're the client, you should get what you want, within the legalities of building regulations.
I'd ask for a face to face meeting and make your requirements clear. I'm surprised about the door width, as I thought this was a requirement on new builds. ( extensions )

9GreenBottles Mon 06-Mar-17 19:51:24

Thanks JT05. I agree, we should get what we want (and I don't think it contravenes building regs), it's just I didn't think it would be quite like asking/telling multiple times to get there. I've also decided a face to face with a plan in front of us is a good idea and that's been arranged for Thursday.

JoJoSM2 Mon 06-Mar-17 20:18:37

If you feel that yo communicated clearly and hat your Sketch up drawings were an accurate representation of expectations, then I'd look for another architect. However, if you had a brainstorming session with a lot of ideas discussed or your Sketch up stuff is a bit rough/inaccurate/confusing then I'd give him a list of changes to implement to see if he comes back with a good design.

Aftershock15 Mon 06-Mar-17 20:20:24

I would ditch this architect now based on my experience. We had a large project done and had some quite clear instructions. First drawings came back and they had been ignored.

Foolishly we carried on and the whole project was a nightmare. He just did not listen and everything took much longer than it should have. Overall I'm happy with the final result but there are a few things that weren't as I wanted but I just lost the energy to fight for everything so focused on the big issues.

Not listening to your client is a big sign to me of things not running smoothly.

9GreenBottles Mon 06-Mar-17 21:00:11

The thing is that we didn't really have a brainstorming session - or not what I would have expected. I thought they would get their pencil out and sketch some stuff with us but that didn't happen. We showed my 3D Sketchup drawings which were pretty decent from a size/basic layout perspective but we said we were open to a better layout and more attractive exterior design, however, it's been a complete redo and doesn't meet our needs.

We'll see how this meeting goes and how receptive they are to the changes we want to make - then see what the redraft brings!

Bluntness100 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:02:34

I also thought wheelchair accessible was now a requirement, maybe it's different for extensions? Either way they sound fairly crap, from as a min the communication side,

9GreenBottles Mon 06-Mar-17 21:11:43

That makes it sound like we gave carte blanche but we talked about the rooms and their function (eg a home office with a separate entrance which has access to a shower room that doesn't open directly off the room - and will eventually be used as a downstairs bedroom). What we expected was something like a hotel bedroom arrangement with a little hallway outside the shower room and what we got was a room across a glass fronted hallway. Just the journey I want to make with a towel round me!

woundedbutwalking Mon 06-Mar-17 21:13:08

Sounds like an architect might not be the best person for the job, have you considered asking a building surveyor? They're more likely to take instruction for design work than an architect who may wish to have a greater design influence? Good luck 😊

9GreenBottles Mon 06-Mar-17 21:16:09

Bluntness: I'd drawn 838mm doorways (and said I'd used that) but getting my ruler out, they're not that width - and I don't think they meet minimum standards. Perhaps they still view these as rough plans and will correct it, but it's still annoying to think that we will have to double check everything till we feel satisfied they are listening to us.

9GreenBottles Mon 06-Mar-17 21:22:17

Wounded: well, we started down that route but the bloke disappeared (literally it would appear from what we have heard) so then we went down the architect route. The external design of the house needs a bit of creative flair that I simply don't have smile

SnowGlobes Tue 07-Mar-17 11:52:42

Building surveyor? Do they do extension and conversion plans? I thought they just did surveys. How do I find one that could do both please? Huge thanks! Sorry to hijack op!
We did huge amount of work to our old house and had architect for 2 years so it's essential that you trust them and that they 100% listen to your needs. We can't use him again as we are now 200 miles away! If you are in Cheshire area I would recommend him though!

9GreenBottles Tue 07-Mar-17 12:32:47

It possibly depends on the person SnowGlobes The guy we used (who had been recommended then disappeared) worked for a Housing Association and did it on the side.

SnowGlobes Tue 07-Mar-17 12:57:41

Thanks greenbottles - I'm certainly going to ask. Back to your architect... have a sit down meeting with them face to face and go through all your ideas and thoughts. If you still feel unsure after this then find someone else. All our meetings with the architect were face to face but he lived around the corner so was easy for him to pop over & disuss. We agreed a fab house scheme but when the quotes came in had to cut back all over the place so had many meetings & you need to him. He was also the project manager and if yours is, trust is paramount! Good luck!

SnowGlobes Tue 07-Mar-17 12:58:45

'Need to him'? Should say 'need to trust him'.

9GreenBottles Tue 07-Mar-17 13:45:44

I expect to be doing the project management because I'm onsite and used to be one (not building trade) - plus using the architect for consultancy. I've nothing against them as a person, they are very pleasant, but I just didn't know if I'm being picky or were lots of drafts par for the course. The revised draft we get after meeting on Thursday will be the decider I think. DP is very unimpressed at this point.

SnowGlobes Tue 07-Mar-17 14:14:23

Ours listened. And yours needs to hear you and design accordingly - if not you need to move on I'm afraid. Fingers crossed they come good for you!

Thenewwiderworldthird Tue 07-Mar-17 16:37:54

Greenbottles I sympathise - we seem to be using the same rubbish architect...! We have been working with ours for several months and so far they have:

Forgotten to include an entrance door into an outbuilding we are converting to living accommodation
Forgotten to include Velux windows despite me reminding him several times
After approving one set of plans, for no reason reverting to a previous iteration - a door we are intending to block up just reappeared!
Included things in the schedule of works that we aren't having, such as en-suite
Forgotten to include UF heating in the schedule of works

The tenders then come back at nearly 3x our budget, so we are back to the drawing board. I feel pissed off that our architect couldn't have warned us of this - they must have a pretty good idea of costs, surely. And he has submitted an additional invoice for his extra work on the new tender, despite the fact that we've already paid him over £5k so far... And I've had to do loads of work on his plans/schedules because he kept forgetting things and making mistakes.

So my advice is to go with your gut instinct and get shot of your architect sooner rather than later as the further you go with someone, the harder it is to get rid of them later.

SofiaAmes Tue 07-Mar-17 16:47:54

As an architect, I am mortified. There are plenty of good architects out there. It sounds like you have ended up with a rubbish one. I know it will create a delay, but I would move on to a different architect. If they are making such fundamental mistakes at this stage, how can you be confident that they will design something that will stand up and meet code.
My experience is that often architects will hire very inexperienced underlings who are just out of university (which is fine, because architecture is not a lucrative career), but then not supervise them accordingly.
I would check references extensively before picking an architect. Ask to see previous projects AND speak to previous clients.
Make sure your contract includes at least 1 to 2 revisions in the initial fee. And make sure that all instructions and subsequent corrections are done in writing.

9GreenBottles Tue 07-Mar-17 17:29:19

Thenew That sounds really bad.

SofiaAmes Now I'm getting scared. It's interesting that you say about getting somebody inexperienced because we had a delay as the drawings "weren't up to scratch". I know they are doing quite a lot of commercial work and perhaps don't have time to do the supervision as you suggest.

I can see I'm going to be minuting this meeting on Thursday. I've already got numbered points all over the plan to give to them.

SofiaAmes Tue 07-Mar-17 21:06:32

Architects are generally notoriously bad (worldwide) at predicting the way. I would ask around to people in your area who have done similar sized/style projects for an idea of what it cost them. There are also some publications that give an idea of cost per square foot for additions. I am in Los Angeles now, so can't really help with UK costs anymore.

9GreenBottles Tue 07-Mar-17 22:43:07

I'd got that impression grin. We had a builder round at the beginning who gave us an indicative price which is in line with the online calculators - just assuming we manage that budget effectively.

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