As an Architecte Bilingue en Aquitaine, Justine Joseph highlights what you can expect when using the services of an architect in her article: Working with Architects.
Working with Architects
The first mistake is to think that the most expensive part of a building or renovation project is the purchase. This is not always the case and an architect’s goal should be to enlighten you about potential building costs. For this reason it’s highly recommended that you call on someone independent for an honest indication of how the costs could escalate, before any purchase or work begins.
Obviously they won’t be able to tell you precisely how much it could cost at first glance. However, they can make you aware of the likely expense if, say, you want to renovate a barn, knock something down to re-build properly, install insulation and heating/air-conditioning, add an ensuite, or just replace a wooden floor.
Why use an architect?
In an ideal world architects can help with making spaces flow better, where to put a staircase for the best use of each cubic metre, or even where to relocate the kitchen. Whilst they aren’t magicians, they are neutral and experienced, and the good ones will “think out of the box” to meet your requirements, without being blinded by the current arrangement or the fact that there’s a radiator in the way.
An architect can help with new build as well as renovation, incorporating the latest technologies into the scheme, and taking on board the requirements of the Architecte des Bâtiments de France if required (if the project is within 500m of a listed village or monument). As each commune has different rules and land laws/constraints, an architect should also be able to liaise with the Mairie or DDT to pre-empt whether what you hope to build will obtain permission or not.
An architect can use their experience to indicate whether a house or plot of land is potentially right or full of pitfalls. They may charge a fee for visiting several sites, but it is usually a worthwhile investment.
In the long run, an architect is likely to save you money and ensure realistic expectations. In order to choose the right one, check their credentials (are they registered with l’Ordre des Architectes for instance), look at previous projects, interview several, and get a feeling for their attitude. For example, we try to obtain costs early so that clients know where they’re going financially and that we are all working to the same plan.
How do architects usually work?
The first visit is free of charge so that an architect can meet you, understand your project and your needs, both now and in the future, before quoting for drawings. At this stage they should be able to provide approximate figures for the work envisaged. If you have thought about your budget and arranged finance if necessary, they will be in a better position to guide you on the possible number of rooms and square meterage.
From them on, an architect can help with obtaining quotes from artisans, building permits and planning permission, or even complete project management. Importantly, they offer the reassurance that you aren’t alone and are there to help at every step of the way.
For further guidance it is worth a look at the RIBA article: www.architecture.com/-/media/gathercontent/how-do-i-use-an-architect/additional-documents/questionsandanswerspdf.pdf
First published in the September/October 2019 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Justine Joseph and Shutterstock