Is it a concept or architect design that you need?

Is it a concept or architect design that you need?

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Today I am going to be talking about whether concept or architect design is what you need, because many of you that are out there in the renovation or building world, and decide to do that sort of work, are going to be confronted with this sort of question.

And there are different ways to go, and so I'm going to cover those right now, because the dilemma is -- I'm sure many of you have been down this path, and some of you are probably right in the middle of it now -- that you've got this dream home thought out. You've got some plans; you've got your scrapbook; all of the lifestyle changes that you'd like with a new designed renovation. All the buildings are going to get built for you, and you need to go beyond the dream and the concept, and you need to ask yourself some three key questions to understand, is it a concept design that you go with, or an architect-designed plan that you go with? And they do differ.

It really comes down to how detailed do you want your plans and drawings? That is the fundamental difference between having an architect-designed plan, versus a concept design. So a concept design will give you an outline of your home that includes the levels; it goes through roofing structure; it does give you the basics for a structural build, and enough details that a builder would require to get going or renovating, for yourself.

An architect-designed plan has all that, but they go into specifics in terms of finishes, and a lot of the detailed pieces that will complete the home, and a detailed document with specifications. And you often hear the word "specifications" in building, and that refers, frequently, to what an architect gives you. It's not something that you just get from a concept design with specs, as they'll shorten them. So if a builder refers to saying, "Oh, have you got specifications?" Then that's going to be coming from the architect, a lot of the time.

That's the number one piece you need to understand, because the difference between the two is in cost and in detail, and also in time. And so this is where I come to the second point. What is your time frame?

The architect option is a great one, and the reason is, is that it runs smoother and you have less wastage, and you do finish closer to budget. Now many of you that are budgeting closely, particularly for renovations, or if you're doing this yourself, you need to take that into account.

Generally, for an architect to go ahead from your concept stage through to sitting with them, discussing it, getting drawings, etc, it can take eight to ten months for you to plan, and that also depends on the size of your build. And that's knowing what you want. The selections happen up front, and almost everything that you want gets included into those plans and specifications, because you sit with the architect and you go through the specifics of what you are wanting, in terms of, before you start you know exactly where you're at, and that's why you tend to stay on budget a lot better with an architect planned design, versus a concept design.

Because then, with concept designs, they're great -- you get the structural piece, but then what happens is you tend to get lost in there somewhere, where you start selecting different finishes and you think you're on budget, and then you start to blow it way out, because you haven't taken into account, up front, what those little things will cost, and those little things can be big things in what they cost. So that's one that you really need to be aware of.

So if you've got a small renovation, or you're looking for the design only, to give you some flexibility with a change in mind, then a concept design can work for you. You've just got to be really disciplined. And that's the key piece, here, because I've seen some people that do concept designed plans that have become on a renovation ... they do it very well, and then others will just almost sometimes double the cost of what they allowed for, and that's where you see things that aren't completed, or they just take so long because they've got to wait for the funds to catch up with what it is they want.

The third piece you need to then work out on this one is from a concept design or architect design, are you going to choose a builder, or are you going to be an owner-builder? Now depending on which way you go, concept design or architect plans will be critical in getting what you want, and as I mentioned before, finishing on time and within budget.

So, with a concept design, if you're paying for a builder, and the builder's going to quote on that, the architect-designed plan, for the builder, gives him a more solid, stable framework, that doesn't move outside, and he gets the job completed, and he'll cost it that way on his time, particularly even if you're going to get a builder that might even project-manage your design.

Whereas, from a concept design, they're going to factor in the additional that could come with your selections, and changing the mind, or haven't got around to getting the tap-ware and the other designs of the finishes that can impact the timing piece, so all these add up in cost, because builder's time is his money, and so you've got to take that into account. Don't just go from face-value.

The better planned that you are, the greater information that you have, is the greater chance you're going to have clear communication with the builder. They like a process that they can follow. They like that framework. They'll trust an architect's plans, and the specifications, and then, if you've got to make those changes, you're going to pay for them, but it's a lot better than getting the sort of plain canvas, and getting something that is a concept design, and the other pieces are going to be selected on the run. And they can create delays, because with an architect design plan with specification, well in advance, you can start to make those selections, and purchases and deliveries, and it just keeps the flow of the project going.

However, if you're an owner-builder, and you've got time, and you prefer to go the other way, and you're going to do that yourself as part of the project -- you might be taking some time off work, or doing it as an experience, as a hobby, and I wouldn't say ... probably hobby's not the right term, but you may want to be going that way to see the joys of the experience of going through an owner-builder experience yourself -- then in that regard, maybe a concept design plan can work for you, but still, my piece of advice to you is ensure that you plan it properly, because time will kill you, and you'd be surprised at some of the things that you might want, that you go into a showroom, or you go online to select, may not be available then and there, and you possibly could be waiting months for them, and they can delay other processes.

Good planning always takes place, and ensures you've always got your project on flow.

If you've got any questions on this one, come to Monsta. Here to help you. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and processes on concept design plan, or the architect piece, and if you've got some drawings or photos of projects you've had, either way, throw them into us. We'd love to see them, and highlight them for you, and share them around.