What is an Architect… And How Do I Work With One?

What does an architect do and how do you know if you need one?
The core tasks for an architect is to design, plan, and develop the ideas and final outcome for a house, apartment or building.

Most often, people think of using an architect when they are building a new house entirely from scratch. This is usually termed a ‘new build’.

However, an architect can also be retained to do a redesign or major rebuild on an existing house or building.

Architects are also trained and qualified by government bodies to do other necessary works like environmental impact or feasibility studies, cost analysis and land-use studies.

According to William Ng from Studio Wills + Architects, quoting from the Singapore Board of Architects: “No person shall use verbally or otherwise the word ‘architect’ or any of its derivatives in connection with any business designation that will lead to the belief that the person is an architect unless the person is registered with the Board of architects in Singapore.”

Using an architect for your new or renovated home, particularly if you want to do major works, can help ensure that your project is done right according to building regulations, on time, on budget and creatively.

“Architects are trained not only to design but to execute the design,” explains Singapore architect Catherine Loke from Lander Loke Architects.

“This involves detailing, documentation, cost control, procurement and contract administration.”

Casey Chua, director of ADX Architects, agrees with Loke: “Architects are creative individuals who are professionally trained. Take time to communicate your needs to your chosen architect, and they should be able to deliver a product suitable to your needs with a high degree of professionalism.”

How do you know if you need an architect?
You probably need an architect if you are doing any sort of structural work, whether on a new-build or a renovation.

Yes, you can work with an interior designer, however, you will also need to contract a structural engineer, a builder etc. particularly if you are making major changes to a space.

“Engaging an architect for the full scope of services – design, documentation, contract administration and authority submissions – is the best value for money,” says Loke.

What you need to tell your architect
As with employing any building professional, you need to be very clear about what it is that you want to achieve, how much money you have to spend, and any other specifics regarding timelines, or physical requirements.

And you also need to have some sort of idea of the overall design style.

“I think the one thing to consider before hiring an architect is to decide the process and outcome that you desire,” says Chua.

“Architects are trained both in design conceptualisation and design implementation. Basically this means, architects are responsible for both making the design, and managing the process to ensure the design is built to expectations.”

Ng suggests that you carefully consider whether or not you actually need to use an architect for your job, and if you do, ensure “he or she a qualified architect registered with the respective Board of Architects”.

How do you choose the right one?
As with working with any professional, you need to find someone who ‘suits’ your needs and personality.

“Choosing an architect is not unlike choosing your family doctor,” says Loke.

“The architect will be working closely with you for the duration of the project and should be someone who is ‘in sync’ with you.

“The architect can also help you work out your design brief and offer solutions that you never imagined.”

Chua agrees: “The architect you choose should be well-suited to your style and taste. Review their portfolio and make sure the architect can deliver solutions and products that fits your needs.

“Choosing an architect who you can get along with and understands you is important in ensuring good communication. This will allow for a smooth working relationship.”

Ng has three tips to follow before you choose your architect. First, gather a shortlist of qualified architects whose work you like, then “review their portfolio so that you have a good understanding of their works in terms of scale, type and for a lack of a better word, their style and if that is aligned with your personal style and preferences”, he explains.

Next is the all important communication chemistry. Finally, Ng adds that you should “request testimonials or the equivalent so that you can gauge if the architect is capable of providing the services you are looking for.”

If you are looking for an architect, have a look at our comprehensive list of Professionals.

Was this information about working with an architect helpful? Tell us in the comments below.

In this new series we help you define the different types of professionals you will come across as a new homeowner: whether that’s an interior designer or stylist, or a renovation contractor. Here, we talk about the architect.

This content was originally published here.

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