Construction

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 7th and final of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

7. Construction

construction

In this the final stage of a project, your house gets built. All the hours and weeks and months of design and documentation are rewarded by the wonderful experience of witnessing your dream home take shape. The responsibility for driving the project forward transfers from us to the builder. After all our hard work, this is a considerable relief.

The design and documentation process is not completely finished however. In addition to certifying payments, assessing variations, and responding to queries, we continue refining and improving your project. Unexpected problems arise on site, exciting opportunities present themselves, and mistakes are made. The builder might demolish a wall and discover a rotten section of ceiling that needs to be removed, covered or replaced; a specified tile, oven or tap may no longer be available; when the wall framing goes up we might discover an unanticipated but particularly beautiful view we want to capture. For all of these situations, we resolve detailed construction questions with the you and the builder on site and back in our studio.

The duration of this project stage is first and foremost dependent on the size of the project, and second on its complexity. While there is an economy of scale, more building typically means more time. Complexity requires higher levels of supervision and presents fewer opportunities for fast tracking. There is also a minimum time to construction. We have found that even the smallest construction projects, with barely 3 months of work to do, will take at least 6 months to complete.

In total, you can expect an architectural project to take a minimum of a year and a half from conception to completion. The maximum we’ve discussed here is 3 and a half years, though this is dependent on a number of potentially unquantifiable factors, including a drawn out town planning process and lengthy construction stage.

Stage duration = 6 – 18 months
Architect’s time = 200 – 600 hours
Specialist consultants = Structural engineer, building surveyor

Documents = Site details, progress payment certificates and variations
Scale of drawings = 1:10 – 1:5
Quantity = 40 – 120x A4 details depending on duration and complexity of project

farmer house construction


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Construction. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer  House construction. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Tendering

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 6th of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

6. Tendering

tendering

In this project stage, we procure 1 or more tenders to build your project. A tender is essentially a quote, though more detailed and tied to both our documentation and the eventual building contract. There are a number of ways we can go about tendering a project, a topic we have previously explored here, but each essentially boils down to this:

  1. We submit our documentation set to 1 or more builders.
  2. We give the builders 4 weeks to prepare their tenders.
  3. We meet with the builders on site and respond to queries via tender addenda.
  4. At the end of 4 weeks, we negotiate with the preferred builder until you, she and we are happy with the scope and budget.
  5. We prepare duplicate copies of the building contract and documentation set for you and the builder to sign.

The tender period is typically set at 4 weeks, though the time required for the negotiation that takes place afterwards is dependent on how close to your project budget the tenders are. Since we carefully curate the builders with whom we work, all should be capable of executing the project. The only decision that needs to be made is on price.

Stage duration = 6 – 8 weeks
Architect’s time = 40 – 60 hours
Specialist consultants = N/A

Documentation = Tender addenda as required
Quantity of drawings  = N/A

Scale = N/A

farmer house tendering


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Tendering. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House tendering. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Documentation

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 5th of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

5. Documentation

documentation

By the time the documentation stage starts, 99% of the design decisions are made. It’s now time to produce a documentation set that helps us perform three tasks:

  1. Obtain a building permit.
  2. Receive tenders from one or more builders to build your project.
  3. Build your project.

We lock ourselves in our studio and go non-stop until we’re finished. We produce a very large quantity of drawings, including a site plan, demolition drawings, floor plans, reflected ceiling plans, elevations, sections, stair details, construction details, joinery plans and elevations, joinery details, and a window and door schedule. We also produce a written specification with attending schedules and appendices. The drawings explain the where and the how much; the specification explains the what and the how.

We work closely with the structural engineer, environmental consultant and landscape architect, both guiding their work and coordinating it with our own. While larger projects often involve further specialist consultants, this list is typically sufficient for single houses. We pay careful attention to the overlap between the consultants’ documentation sets to make sure heating ducts don’t need to be where columns are, and neither need to be where the kitchen sink is. We also submit our documentation to a building surveyor, who assess it against relevant building codes.

Finally, we end up with a highly detailed set of drawings and specifications that cover every scale of the project from site setout, to structural grid, to joinery details to tile types. These documents, together with our ongoing involvement on site, ensure the many months we have spent on creative thought find their way into the built form.

Stage duration = 3 – 4 months
Architect’s time = 200 – 300 hours
Specialist consultants = Structural engineer, environmental consultant, landscape architect, building surveyor
Documentation = Full construction drawings and specification
Scale of drawings = 1:200 – 1:5
Quantity = 20x A1 drawings + 50x A4 specification pages

farmer house documentation


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Documentation. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House documentation. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Design development

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 4th of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

4. Detailed design

design development

Once we have planning approval, we proceed to detailed design. On less risky projects, we sometimes get started on this a little earlier: after Council has indicated their support for our application but before they have formally approved it.

We begin by seeking your briefing input once again. As the name of the project stage suggest, this time we are interested in the details. We ask whether you prefer cupboards or drawers, what height you like your benchtops, whether you have a large shoe collection, how many game consoles you own.

We then thoroughly resolve a great number of design decisions. We select materials, finishes, plumbing fittings and fixtures, appliances, lighting, electrical fittings, heating and cooling systems, door and window hardware. In the sketch design stage, we might have proposed a ceiling be lined in timber, now we nominate the timber species, dimensions of the lining boards, supplier, profile and finish. We also design every built-in joinery unit, from wardrobes to vanity units to bookshelves to, often most important of all, the kitchen. We nominate the locations of appliances, sizes of drawers, types of cutlery inserts, and thicknesses of benchtops.

While this detailed process is unfolding, we also being consultation with a structural engineer, confirming the broad principles of the structural design, and a landscape architect, to collaborate with us on the design and documentation of outdoor garden areas.

Your involvement in the detailed design stage is dictated by your interest in its primary focus: some clients are happy to let us select everything, others love spending their weekends shopping for toilets and ovens. By the time this project stage is finished, we aim to have every significant design decision for the house made and approved.

Stage duration = 6 – 8 weeks
Architect’s time = 80 – 100 hours
Specialist consultants = Structural engineer, landscape architect
Documentation = Joinery and lighting drawings and schedules
Scale of drawings = 1:20
Quantity = 10x A1 drawings + 4x A3 schedules

farmer house design development


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Design development. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House design development. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Town planning

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 3rd of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

3. Town planning

town planning

In this project stage, we meet with a representative from the town planning department at your local Council for a pre-application meeting. This helps uncover any potential thorny issues in our proposal prior to submission of our application.

Once we’re satisfied that our design is as compliant as we can make it (or not, if you are masochistically interested in pushing the planning envelope), we convert our sketch design drawings into a package ready for submission. This involves tweaking the whole set to alter their main purpose from communicating our design to you, to demonstrating compliance with town planning regulations. We produce additional drawings like a site analysis, design response and shadow diagrams, and prepare a town planning report that assesses our design against the relevant zoning and overlay requirements.

Once we submit, we wait. Council will assign our application to a town planner, who will review it and request additional information if necessary. She will then arrange an advertising period where neighbours are able to review the proposal, will consider any objections received and prepare her report. Depending on the number of objections, either the planning coordinator or a full sitting of Council will consider the report and decide the project’s fate.

This is a highly variable stage of the project. Simple applications can fly through Council in a matter of weeks, while those that receive significant objections can get bogged down in months of bureaucracy. The worst case scenario is that the project will wind up at VCAT, which can take the better part of a year and cost many thousands of dollars in legal and consulting fees. Fortunately, most single houses do not go down this path. These will receive planning approval within the maximum 3 month period allotted to Council to assess applications.

Stage duration = 3 – 12 months
Architect’s time = 40 – 60 hours (excluding VCAT hearings)
Specialist consultants = Town planning consultant and lawyer (for VCAT hearings only)
Documentation = Town planning drawing set and report
Scale of drawings = 1:100
Quantity = 12x A3 drawings + 10x A4 report pages

farmer house town planning


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credit:

  1. Town planning. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House town planning. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Sketch design

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 2nd of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

2. Sketch design

sketch design

We split the sketch design stage into two parts. In the first, we undertake a design-driven feasibility study. This involves exploring a series of layout options with you, each approaching your brief in different ways. We do this through simple, hand-drawn floor plans that encourage objectivity and open-mindedness. Each option is accompanied by a brief cost estimate based on its size and our understanding of your expected level of construction quality. We use this process to help you establish an accurate project budget attached to a defined scope.

In the second part, we flesh out your preferred design arrangement into a three dimensional building. We resolve the layout, form and materiality of your house, and communicate these to you via floor plans, elevations, sections and materials palettes. More evocatively, we build a physical model of the project from card, pasteboard and balsa wood. Often we produce a digital model also, though nothing beats the childlike joy of holding a miniature house in your hands and imagining yourself wandering its rooms.

Once you have given us the tick of approval for our design, we put together a written scope of works document and submit it, together with our drawings, to a quantity surveyor. She then prepares an elemental cost estimate of the project, refining our initial feasibility study by studying each component individually e.g. separate costs for structure, windows, joinery, plumbing works etc. If necessary, we work with you and the quantity surveyor to tweak both the design and your budget until they align. By the end of this process, we have produced a resolved design that you both love and can afford.

Stage duration = 10 – 12 weeks
Architect’s time = 80 – 120 hours
Specialist consultants = Quantity surveyor
Documentation = Sketch floor plans, elevations, sections and model
Scale of drawings = 1:100
Quantity = 8x A3 pages + model

farmer house sketch design


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Sketch design. Author’s own image.
  2. Farmer House sketch design. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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Research

clocks

When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. In our recent article, The iron triangle, we discussed the hierarchy of the architect’s priorities and how expediency is unlikely to be as important as quality or economy. As we noted in that article, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”

This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 1st of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects. Included are indications of how much time it will need, the number of hours we spend, other specialist consultants involved, and the level of design resolution and documentation you can expect at its conclusion.[1] An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.

1. Research

research

During the research stage, we gather as much information as we can about you and your project. We visit your site more than once and explore it thoroughly with camera, measuring tape and sketch book. We procure a copy of the title and we assess the town planning regulations specific to your site.

If the project is a renovation, we measure the house’s internal rooms in detail. We capture room sizes, ceiling heights, wall thicknesses, and the positions and heights of doors and windows. For both renovations and new builds, we commission a land survey of the site. This captures building footprints, heights and rooflines, contours relative to the Australian Height Datum, positions and heights of trees, and locations of fences and visible services. It also establishes the precise location of the title boundary.

Most importantly, we ask you to tell us about yourself, your tastes, lifestyle and your dreams for your new home. We take your answers and prepare a project brief that becomes the guiding document for the entire project.

Stage duration = 4 – 6 weeks
Architect’s time = 40 – 50 hours
Specialist consultants = Land surveyor

Documentation = Land survey, existing conditions drawings
Scale of drawings = 1:200 – 1:100
Quantity = 6x A3 pages

farmer house research


Footnotes:

  1. Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.

Image credits:

  1. Clocks. Author’s own image.
  2. Research. Author’s own image.
  3. Farmer House research. Author’s own image, see here for further details.
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