10 ways for developers to get the most out of architects
1. Speak to them as early as possible
It may sound obvious but speak to an architect before you get too far with your pre-purchase appraisals. Too often, developers get too far down the line before they start talking to architects. This will allow you to appraise the site with some considered ideas and realistic aspirations – too often a developer will come to us as the architect and say ‘We’ve just purchased this, I need you to now get X number of units into the plot’. In those instances, we can be the bearer of bad news, outlining all sorts of restrictions as to why it may not work, putting overall GDV figures out of sync very early on. Consider those initial conversations part of the investment into getting the most of your deals.
2. Be transparent
Don’t forget your architect is there to help you maximise profit. Let them know what you need to achieve in terms of number of units and mix to achieve the profit levels that work for you. They should be asking you who your target market is and designing solutions that suit the purpose. Being cagey about your key aspirations in fear that they’ll charge you too much or not be creative will not help you achieve the most for the site; your architect should ask these questions and explore options around to see what may be possible.
3. Allow time for production of information
Irrespective of what stage your project is at; the production of a quality set of drawings and associated submissions take time and is likely to allow for a smoother process. Whether it is for the community consultation, feasibility package or the planning package, rushing your architect is unlikely to help; that said, you should collectively agree on a realistic deadline at each key moment of the project.
4. Ensure the parameters and deliverables are clearly defined
Understand what your architect is providing before you kick things off and make sure this is aligned with your expectations and needs for the project.
5. Don’t be swayed by the cheapest price
Can you afford for your scheme to be below standard and not maximise your profits because you sought to save some money on your architect’s fees? Cheapest doesn’t necessarily give you quality. Think about what kind of development you want to have and seek out an architect that aligns with that vision. What worked for someone else may not work for you.
A good architect will add value and may even save you money in the long run.
6. Work as a team
Seems obvious but the end goal for everyone working on your project should be unified with yours. Projects can take a long time to come to fruition and having a clear vision and an honest and open relationship throughout the process means that collaboration should be a lot more stress free.
7. Ensure you have a full set of production information before starting on site
Far too often, due to the way in which a deal is structured, start on site is commenced before full detail drawings are in place. Inevitably this is likely to lead to abortive work or increased costs. Discuss how long things will take to get a good set of technical drawings that allows you to start on site. Drawings can be programmed to be issued to follow the stages when required on site if you are not getting the scheme tendered; but if you want to tender wait for the full drawings, this would include a coordinated set from all consultants.
8. Don’t forget a good architect will add value and may even save you money in the long run
Good design will make you money, whether by enticing people to want to buy or rent your project quicker and therefore saving you money on borrowing costs or making more out of the space to get a greater number of units. Your architect should be offering creative design solutions based on your agreed vision; poor layouts are likely to equate to poor sales.
9. They should listen to you, but equally you should listen to them
An architect should be coming to the table with their professional honest judgement on matters; there is no point in having yes men or women on your team – listen to them and ask them to explain the implications of any aspects that are unclear or have an impact on what is possible.
10. Don’t skimp on the other consultants.
Many projects are likely to need the input of multiple parties; often quite early on in the process – don’t try and bypass this. The information from these other consultants may inform the architect’s design proposals and could vary from Rights of Light surveyors through to arboriculturists. Discuss with the architect early on who they think will need to be engaged and understand the costs involved as early as possible.
And the bonus one – have fun. Having a good team working on your project should reduce the overall stress on the project and make for a fun, enjoyable and at times challenging experience..