How Do We Help You Stay Within Your Budget?
Andy Parker, Project Consultant at Complete Oak Home, talks about how we make sure we stay within our client’s budget.
“Yet again (this happens with almost monotonous regularity) I’ve just had an enquiry from someone who has had a house designed by another architectural practice only to discover that it is beyond their budget by an astronomical 80%.
Having started with the expectation that they were going to have a 5 bedroom family house of around 450sqm with a likely build cost of £2,000sqm, they have ended up with a design of 685sqm and an anticipated build cost of £3,000sqm. So a jump from £900,000 to just over £2m. And what’s more it has cost that person £20k in architect’s fees to get to that stage.
I regularly get asked how we can be so confident of delivering our client’s projects on budget when no one else seems to be. I think it can be summed up in two words – expectations and control.
At the very first stage we speak frankly to people about whether their project is feasible. At a very fundamental level, we establish whether they are they likely to be able to meet their aspirations given their plot, planning policy and project budget.
We then make sure that we discuss total project budget and not just construction budget. A one off bespoke build comes with a raft of unavoidable associated costs from architectural design, to engineering calculations to planning fees. The total of all of this is material (normally around 10% of the construction cost) and can’t be overlooked.
Our clients come to us for our experience and expertise, not just in designing one off bespoke houses but in cost control. We have a duty to bring our expertise to bear and if that means reining in our clients we must not shy away from that duty.
Of course we are working for our clients to design and build their house with their money. But most people are prone to enthusiasm when they start to see a dream coming to fruition and we believe that the architectural professional has an obligation to ensure they keep that enthusiasm within the boundaries of the client’s budget.
And it’s not just the clients. A good architect, passionate about a scheme, is equally prone to getting carried away. Sometimes even quite modest changes to a design can add significant cost. And what’s more it’s actually far easier to design a big house than it is a modest or small one. If you can’t quite meet the client’s aspirations with a first or second iteration of a design it’s easy to get drawn to adding more space to solve a problem. But frankly, in my opinion, that’s sloppy architecture.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen architects present a client with a design they can’t afford in the hope that they will fall in love with it. But experience tells me that eventually the client will have a reality check and the whole project starts to go pear shaped.
We always ensure that we understand the client’s aspirations, talk frankly about project budgets, don’t shy away from explaining when client decisions are putting the scheme beyond their reach, and make sure the project team can blend creativity and flair with grounded financial security.”
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