If your project involves the heritage elements of your building, you may need an architect’s advice on the best way to maintain heritage values.
An architect can also help you to understand your project's broader requirements under the Building Act. This will be particularly useful if your project includes a change of use for your building where fire and access upgrades may be required.
How to find an architect
Ideally, choose a heritage architect, or an architect with experience of heritage projects, when you’re considering work that disturbs your building’s heritage fabric. The architect will help to ensure that your structural solution protects or enhance heritage features.
Not all seismic upgrade projects will require use of an architect. For example some minor internal structural projects can be completed without one.
The New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB) has an online directory of registered architects.
Your architect must have a practising certificate and meet the requirements of the NZRAB – they cannot do architectural work without it.
Questions to ask an architect
Before engaging an architect, discuss the services they provide and how they will work with you. Consider whether they inspire confidence and you’d feel comfortable working with them.
Ask about their expertise and experience:
- their experience with strengthening projects in buildings similar to yours — in style, age, and construction
- their experience with strengthening historical buildings to the building code.
Ask to see examples of their work and how previous projects went, and find out:
- the contact details of the owners of two or three of their projects, so you can check how the work went and ask about the quality of service the clients received; whether there were any delays and amendments, and whether they met the budget
- how they work and communicate (including documentation) on a project with the engineer, builder, tradespeople, and the building owner
- how they work with the local council.
Ask about their approach to your project:
- how they will work with drawings of the building — how they will work from any existing documentation, or whether they will create new drawings
- how they plan to work with the rest of the project team, such as engineers and builders.
Ask how they charge — architects charge in different ways:
- an hourly rate
- a percentage of the total building cost
- a fixed fee.
Be clear about your budget at the start, and whether it’s important to meet it. Designers may work to the best interests of the design, and not necessarily to the budget, unless you are specific.
What your architect will do
Your architect will carry out a variety of activities. Depending on the scope of your project, they may:
- gather information on your building site
- develop concept and preliminary designs and help clarify what you want
- provide developed and detailed designs
- provide advice on your requirements under the Building Act - for example seismic, fire, access and weather-tightness
- manage or assist with the process to gain resource consent and building consent
- liaise and consult with other professionals including engineers, quantity surveyors and building contractors.
- manage the building process, including tendering, contract administration and overseeing construction. This could also be done by an engineer, architect or independent project manager
- collect trade warranties and secure a code compliance certificate.
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