Guide

Why do you need an architect?

Few people realize how complicated it is to build, until they find themselves lost in the mists of design options, partiuri, functional schemes, legal issues regarding constructions or even trying to play the role of contractors. Two projects are almost never similar and there is no unique and well determined line to follow.

The architect is the professional who has the education, the training, the experience and the vision to guide himself through the entire design and construction process. He will help you accomplish, with the money you gathered for the construction, what is best for you. The architect sees the whole; not only he draws four walls and a roof, but he creates the total, internal and external environment that satisfies the functional needs and incites towards other dynamic spaces where you work or live.

Regardless of what you may want to do: renovate, extend, build out of pieces, the architect can show you the way. Working with contractors and other construction professionals, the architect can help you draw up a well designed project that complies with all your needs and does not misuse your time and money.

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The architect solves your problems

Most of the projects start from a wish or a need. "I wish to have more free space in my office!" or "There is no more space in the house!". But how can you transform this wish into square meters or tridimensional space? This is exactly what architects can do. They were trained to solve this king of problems in a creative way. With their design and construction knowledge, architects may propose alternatives and options you would have never thought of.

Do you wish another room for you growing family? An architect can show you how to expand your house without too much effort from you. An architect can design an office or a store for you, which satisfies your present needs, but which is also adapted to your future needs. Do you have a limited budget? The architect takes care that you frame within the planned and available amounts. The architect can save your money. The architect's services are a wise investment and not an additional cost of the building.

Why?

....because a well conceived project can be accomplished in a more efficient and economic way. Architects make plans together with you, but the changes can be made on paper, according to your changing ideas, which is much cheaper than if the changes are made later, when the construction is erected;

....because the efficiency of a construction can save your money. An architect can design a construction so that the greenhouse effect is minimized, but also allow the natural light, thus reducing the electric consumption to the strict needs and saving the money you would give later for.... because the architect can use your budget as efficiently as possible. The architect shall develop the project according to your requirements;

....because an architect can help you choose the long-lasting and beautiful materials, preventing you from additional expenses. His familiarization with all kinds of materials makes him capable to choose the most suitable of them;

....because good projects are well sold. A well designed house has a high resale value, a well designed storehouse attracts customers, a well designed work place attracts employees and increases productivity.

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The architect can make your life simpler

The building act is a long process, often bothering, especially when you work or live in the place that is being built. The architect you hire protects you from troubles and tries to render the process softer and more bearable. If the project requests engineering or other design services, the architect can coordinate this team instead of you. Architects can help you find qualified contractors that correspond to your requirements.

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How do you find the right architect?

Each architect has his own style in design and work methods; therefore, it is important to find an architect who understands your style and needs. If you have already worked with an architect and it was convenient, you should preferably resort to him again; otherwise you shall have to make an effort. Find out who makes projects in your community and prepare a list of potential architects. Take recommendations from friends, relatives or persons who have worked with architects before. Chef if the proposed architects are members with right of signature inscribed in the National Table of Architects. This quality gives the architect an ethical code and allows him to have access to a variety of professional resources. Request from the Order of Architects the list of architects and of architecture firms inscribed in the Table. Resort to any company or architect on the list. Rewrite your project theme and ask if there is anyone who wants to take it. If no office is able to take your project, ask if they can suggest another firm.

Request information about the qualification and the experience of the designer. The materials your request may include a letter of intent, brochures, photos of the previous activity, list of specialists of the firm or collaborators by specialties, their qualifications, as well as biographic materials.

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Discussing about the composition

The interview is crucial because it gives you the chance to meet the people who will transpose your ideas and wishes on paper. Remember: you will be working with the architect for a long time and you want somebody who can make you feel comfortable.

In the end reserve yourself one hour for the interview. The meeting could take place in the architect's office, and thus you will be able to form an opinion about the environment and atmosphere where the project is conceived, or at your place, thus the architect being able to assimilate more about the project and about your needs. The architect can show you pictures and photos about his previous work and describe how his and his specialists' experience will help you. During the interview you will see how busy designers are or if the architect is capable to take over you order. In the case of design companies, ask who will take the engagement and insist on meeting the person who will draw your project. Also, discuss about your budget allotted to the project. Before making the final selection, ask the architect to present in detail the project and the work method. It is important to request reference about the architect from previous customers.

If at some point during the discussion there is something you do not understand, ask the architect to clarify it. If you feel intimidated, or if the architect fails to explain things in such a way that you understand them, this means that he is not good for you.

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The final decision

In the end, you will choose the architect you will trust. The right architect will be the one who communicates best with you, who judges the technical solution and has the necessary creativity to help you accomplish a project that fits both your needs and you dreams - all these at an affordable price.

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A word about the architect's fee

The way architects perform their services can be confuse for the customer-beginner. There is no particular price for a particular type of project. Fees are established in a various number of ways, depending on the type of project, on the location, on the legal status and regulations of the area, as well as on the nature of services, as adapted as possible to your needs.

Certain projects are evaluated depending on how long the architect will have to work for them, others depending on certain parameters (for example: square meters, rooms, apartments, etc)

Some architects request a fixed amount; others request a ratio of the construction cost. Architects can also suggest a combination of these methods.

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The work team

The best project is created when the customer and the architect work together as a team. Assume an active role! Design is an interesting and creative thing. The process can be amusing, satisfying and positive. But it can also be a difficult work. You can ask the architect to control the construction or you can not ask him, but you have to pay his work for conceiving the project.

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The written agreement

Once you have found the architect, you will have to notify him the terms you propose for the work, the services, the plan, the budget and the compensation or the architect. Also, any fundamental change of the prior agreement must be notified. These written agreements can take multiple forms (contracts, conventions, minutes, addenda to the contract, etc.)

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6 steps towards building your dream

1. DECIDE WHAT WE BUILD - The first level, called planning, is the most valuable time you spend with the architect. It is the time when you discuss you requirements for the construction: how many rooms, what functions it will have, who will use them and how. The architect shall ask you many questions in order to better understand the sense of your needs. The architect will ask about the legal situation of the property and will enumerate the work stages depending on you requirements. The architect will request the Urbanism Certificate in order to be able to integrate your needs and desires in the context of urbanism regulations and legal provisions regarding constructions.

2. PRIMARY SCHEME - Once you decided what will be built, the architect will make a series of incipient sketches known as schematic drawings (project sketches). These sketches will show you the general disposal of the rooms and of the site. If you have difficulties in understanding the sketches, ask the architect to explain them to you. The architect will refine and reconsider the sketches until the solution satisfies you. During this stage, the architect will give you an estimate preliminary cost. It is difficult to foresee the market conditions, and that is why this preliminary cost could have a quite wide error margin. Before passing to the next stage, the architect will request the approval of these sketches.

3. REFINEMENT OF THE DRAWING - This step, called development of the project, is the moment when the architect prepares more detailed drawings to illustrate other aspects of the project. The construction plans will present all the rooms with the correct form and at the correct scale. When you look to these drawings try to imagine how you will use these spaces. Ask yourself "Will circulation be comfortable? Does each room serve to the proposed intention? Do I like how it looks?" etc. Review each element together with the architect, in order to be sure that you will spend your money efficiently.

4. PREPARATION OF THE CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS - Within this stage, the architect prepares the documentation, the detailed drawings and the specifications that must be submitted to the administrative institutions habilitated to issue permits and building authorizations. The documentation will also be forwarded to the contractor, who will thus be able to evaluate the construction cost. When you obtained all the permits and the building authorization, you are ready to pass to the following steps, namely to hiring the contractor or the constructors.

5. HIRING THE CONTRACTOR - The contractor is responsible to monitor and manage the construction of the project. The architect may recommend you somebody or, if you already have somebody, you must send them the construction documents and negotiate the costs and the price of the works. The architect will help you prepare the documentation and analyze the offers. Usually the cheapest agent is chosen to do this work, provided that he does not have a doubtful reputation, i.e.: he usually fails to fulfill the conditions of the undertaking contract, he is well known in law courts, he works with insufficiently qualified constructors, etc. Many customers prefer to make the contractor's work themselves, this meaning in general saved/gained money. Discuss the pro and contra arguments with your architect, in order to ensure that you choose the best solution.

6. BUILDING - This final step is frequently the most irritating part of the entire process, but eventually the most satisfying, both for you and for your architect. When the construction begins, your project moves from a visual reality into a physical reality. The architect's involvement does not stop here; he can provide the administrative services of the construction. These services could be: hiring of the contractor (for and on behalf of the customer), visiting the building site and checking the correspondence between the project and the physical reality of the construction, appointing the chief of the building site (the customer's trusted person) who monitors the expenses made during the construction process, the accuracy of the works estimates, the consumptions of materials, etc. He can work independently, or he can work within the architect's office, but in both cases he must be a person of an absolute integrity.

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