What is ‘green’ or sustainable architecture?
Good architecture is sustainable by its very nature. All good designs should incorporate ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ concepts in its essence. There are different definitions & interpretations for ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’, as well as many different aspects to the subject. In short there are 3 basic fields of sustainable design:
1 The design itself, e.g. correct building orientation & positioning on the site, the incorporation of natural light through correct window positions & sizes, etc.
2 Technological advances, e.g. double- or thermal glazing, energy efficient heating/cooling devices, insulation of all surfaces, low VOC paint & materials, etc.
3 Social- & economical aspects, e.g. cradle-to-grave energy use of a material, improvement & use of local skilled- or non-skilled labour, recycling of materials, etc.
In essence, we are depleting the earth’s resources, so if we want to sustain the current amount of people on earth, or the available resources on earth, then we will have to use what is left sparingly, and reuse what have been obtained from the earth…..this includes materials, human resources, etc.
Can we come and see your portfolio?
You are most welcome. Most of our projects are also view-able on our website. You are also welcome to email email@example.com with any questions.
What does a building cost these days?
This question cannot be answered directly as the cost of a building is dependent on many variables. Square metre costs of buildings can only be determined in retrospect, (after a building has been completed and the actual total cost is known). One can use recently erected, existing buildings, in the same area, of the same nature, with similar finishes & ‘extras’, etc. estimate the potential cost of a new project. It is also a good idea to speak to contractors in the area, regarding the average building cost of buildings of the same scope in the area.
Do you do additions and/or alterations?
It will depend on the scope of the work as we would need to remodel the entire building with our 3D software, before we can start with making any alterations & additions.
Can we visit some of the projects your firm has designed?
It would be an invasion of the privacy of our clients to show potential clients around, but we document all projects carefully and some projects have been published or featured on TV, as included on our website. We are also available to answer any questions on specific projects on firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you see us on week-ends or after hours?
We believe that week-ends are for family & the week for clients. In extreme circumstances we can make ourselves available on a Saturday.
It is the first time we are building; How should we go about it?
Half our clients are first time builders, so we know that building your first building can be exciting & nerve wrecking at the same time. We explain all the stages & documentation needed and show examples of previous projects in order for you to know what will need to happen when. We provide a 3D model on our Revit software, showing you what the building is going to look and feel like before you start spending money on the building process. It is always cheaper to sort out all design issues on paper (computer), than making changes on site.
Are you registered architects?
We are registered Professional Architects with SACAP (South African Council for the Architectural Profession) and with SAIA (South African Institute for Architects) & PIA (Pretoria Institute for Architecture). There is always a professional architect involved in every stage of every project.
Do your firm work outside Gauteng?
Yes, we have done several projects all over the country and even as far afield as Angola, Botswana & Mozambique. We even had a South African client based in Sydney, Australia who contacted us via Skype and we only meet in person for the first time when his house in Fourways, Johannesburg was nearly complete. With the computer, internet and our technologically advanced 3D software, anything is possible these days.
Do you have the capacity for more work?
The amount of work we have and can handle changes every month, so it better to ask Friedrich Strey that personally. We do not do ‘risk work’, so we are a very productive office. Our policy of taking payment of the first 5% after the first meeting, results in only having serious clients at any stage.
What software do you use & how do I view your designs?
We use 3D software from Autodesk called Revit (Revise It), which is also a BIM (Building Information Management) product, which means that all elements in the 3D model is ‘intelligent’.
Do we pay a deposit on top of the fees?
No. After your first meeting with us, during which all the stages, fees, professional team to be appointed, timelines, etc. will be explained, the first 5% of our fee, based on the estimated cost of the project, will be payable before we carry on with the project.
Do you give discount?
We deliver a professional and full service, and do not cut corners on the design. We can however deliver part of the Standard Services as part of the Client/Architect Agreement with the proportionate fee, as suggested by SACAP (The South African Council for the Architectural Profession).
How does your fee structure work?
The work to be done on a project is divided into different stages as suggested in the Standard Services as part of the Client/Architect Agreement with proportionate percentages associated with each stage. Because every project is unique, our clients can choose to take all or part of the Standard Services as a percentage of the building cost, or an agreed fixed fee at the outset of the project, or at an hourly fee for work done on the project. We keep time- & disbursement sheets on every project, so it is possible to see exactly how much time is spend on each phase of each project by any specific person in the office.
How do the stages work of this Standard Services mentioned in the Client/Architect Agreement?
We can divide most projects into 6 or 7 work stages, each with a percentage of the total fee payable. The stages are as follows:
After receiving a letter of appointment & deposit as well as site and local authority documentation are reviewed, we sit with you and determine the Scope of the Work through examining your or your firm’s lifestyle and needs, estimated budget & site restrictions. We advise on what other professionals to be appointed and what the Scope & Budget should be in relation to each other. Questions on the Client/Architect Agreement are answered. The professional team is appointed.
All the available architectural personnel in practice, brain storm together on possible concepts within the Scope of Work & Budget, as many brains are better than one. The best of ideas culminates in a 3D block model prepared on our extensive intelligent 3D software, Autodesk Revit, to portray the scale of the structures in relation to each other & the stand, circulation, shadows structures cast on each other & areas between structures, views & focal points, etc. etc. We encourage interaction & participation by the client of the client want to take part.
More detailed computer generated and/or hand sketches, plans, elevations & 3Ds are prepared to illustrate how we fulfil you or your firm’s lifestyle and needs. Changes made on paper are much cheaper than changes made on site. We include one or two exterior rendered 3Ds and one interior 3D if so requested. We can also supply you with the computer generated 3D model and a Revit Viewer in order to study the design at your heart’s content. Extra rendered 3Ds and/or promotional material can be produced at an extra cost, if we are requested to do so. Most Home Owner Associations of Estates expects approval of the design at this stage. A rough estimate of the cost of the project should also be obtained from a Quantity Surveyor at this stage. The appointed engineer can examine the design at this stage in order to comment on structural sizes and comparative costs of the structure.
Local authority approval documentation are prepared and handed in for approval. The fee for this stage is payable on hand-in, as most of this stage is done by that time and the time it takes to be approved is mostly out of our hands. We do follow up regularly and try to ‘push’ the plans through though, and comply with reasonable requests by the local authority in order to obtain approval. A more accurate estimate form the Quantity Surveyor is possible at this stage. The engineer needs to provide a certificate to accompany the documentation, stating which parts of the structure and civil services he will be responsible for.
While local authority approval runs its course, we continue with construction documentation which includes detailed plans, sections & elevations for the contractor to build from. Further design documentation is prepared which includes door- & window schedules, finishing schedules, electrical layouts and further details. Your choices are critical at this stage, as the finishes chosen, is critical to the budget. The Quantity Surveyor prepares a accurate priced Bill of Quantities at this stage, which should be in line with previous estimates. If not, the finishes chosen are re visited or the budget is altered with your approval. The engineer prepares detailed structural- & civil drawings and associated costs for inclusion in the Bill of Quantities.
The documentation, mentioned in Stage 4b is sent to chosen potential contractors for them to tender a price to construct the project. Tenders received are examined & compared by the professional team and suggestions are made to you. Contracts for the appointment of the successful tender are provided to be signed between you (your firm) and them. The architect has to fulfil his duties and requirements as mentions in the JBCC 2000 building contract, which in essence means ensuring that the design is built as planned and the contractor is paid accordingly.
Note: Stages 1-3, 1-4a, 1-4b or 1-5 can be chosen.
If the architect is not appointed for Stage 5, then he can still be appointed to do certain inspection or consultations with the contractor and/or you when so requested, at an hourly fee, and/or to do a final inspection and compile a completion list, as well as making sure that all guarantees & manuals are provided to you.
What other services can you render to us?
The architect can also provide many other services like helping to choose the right stand for your needs, in fact this is strongly advisable, advise on the purchase of existing buildings & other property, consultation of the restoration of buildings, design for alterations of & additions to existing buildings, help compile business plans for proposed developments, compile marketing- & promotional material, document existing buildings & structures, etc. etc.
What happens if my circumstances change and I have to cancel our contract?
You only pay up to the stage we are busy with + 10% of that amount. The 10% will be deducted from your next invoice if you carry on with the project within the