What does a high standard of architectural service look like?
This post is in response to a diligent client who is asking great questions about their potential consultant for architectural services. Instead of just sending them a response to the question, I decided to put the answer online for all of you to see.
She asked to see a sample of my documentation, to see how I communicate with clients and with contractors. As a lawyer, she understands that poor communication, whether its an unclear advice letter to a client, a vague instruction to a builder, a poor set of tender drawings, a lack of clear illustration of a design intent, can all lead to conflict, additional costs and poor results in the end product – the architectural experience we are all trying to achieve.
So here are a few samples of documents I would routinely issue at various stages of the design, tendering and construction process. The ability to prepare a comprehensive tender package, to keep written records of instructions, meetings, are a part of what we call the professional practice aspect of architectural services. This is something that is taught a little in architectural education, but can only really be learned under the mentorship of a talented architect. I learned from some of the best in my formative years of as an architect, and I have continued to enhance those principles and techniques with a few innovations of my own, which I am now teaching to other architects at the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) continuing professional development (CPD) courses. By the end of 2015 I will have shared some of my techniques on cost control with over 100 practicing architects.
As well as standard planning application drawings, you receive updated cost plans throughout the process;
Drawing issue register
This records who received which drawing and when. It tracks revisions of drawings so that you can check the drawing number and be confident you are looking at the most current version. Without one of these, mistakes will be made.
Detail sheet (1 of 41 architectural drawings for a €300,000 contract sum)
Link to site photographs
I take photos of every detail at the site meeting. You can see how this is documented in my blog piece tracking the construction of the Pharmacy project here.
I hope that gives you a flavour of what a comprehensive architectural service looks like, no matter how small the job or complex, this system is applied to every project to ensure that mistakes and mis-communications don’t occur or at the least are minimised as much as is practicable.