Sergio Nunes interviewed by Bertha Charuma on Radio 2000

Here is the transcript of my Radio interview with Bertha Charuma on Radio 200

1. When intending to build a house, who do I contact- architect or Draftsman? What’s the difference between the two?

Although I’m a professional Architect, and I would like to see all buildings, including houses, being designed by architects, there is no definitive answer to this question, as it all boils down to the specific needs of the individual home builder concerned. Primarily the difference between and architect and a draftsman lies in the level, intensity, and focus of the training that they receive. Draftsmen generally receive a level of training that qualifies them to simply produce drawings that would be suitable to properly construct a house, or other low complexity buildings. Very little of a draftsman’s time in training is spent on developing the advanced design skills, and the related technical, theoretical and historical knowledge base that allows architects to produce buildings of a complex nature, such as museums hospitals etc. Architects will also generally be better equipped to design buildings that transcend their primary function as a practical shelter from the elements. In other words, and architect is better trained to design buildings that exhibit aesthetic, spatial, cultural and historical relevance or significance, in addition to the practical requirements of a building. In short, if you are looking for a home that is more than just a roof over your head, an architect is your best bet.

2. How do I know if the architect I am dealing with is legit and qualified to do the job?

Architects as well as other architectural professionals such as draftsmen need to be registered with the South African Council of Architectural Professionals. The first thing to do is ensure that the person you are thinking of employing is registered. Many professional architects including myself are also registered members of the South African Institute of architects, which is a voluntary association, committed to maintaining the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and competence amongst architects. Selecting an architect who is registered with their local chapter of the association is far step in ensuring you employ an architect that will deliver satisfactory levels of service. It’s also always important that you have a look at some of the architect’s completed work, and where possible get references from previous clients.

3. Do architects also help in the designing of the house or do they only take what I give them?

Architects are trained to solve complex design problems, and as such an architect will most certainly have the expertise to take a client’s raw ideas and turn them into something special that will meet and often exceed the clients’ expectations. Where a client is set on what they want, I would seriously advise them to give an architect the opportunity to see what aspects of the design could be improved. Many do-it-yourselfers are surprised at the amount of expertise an architect has to offer. After all, you are paying an architect for their expertise – get them most out of your investment.

4. If I don’t have a site for my project yet, do architects assist here as well?

Yes most certainly. In fact, selecting a suitable site is as important as selecting the right architect. I wish more clients engaged me to assist them with selecting their site.

5. How do architects charge? What’s their cost based on?

Although architects are essentially free to charge what want, there is a standard fee scale for architectural professionals published in the government gazette, and most reputable architects will base their fees on this scale. This fee scale makes provision for the calculation of fees based on a percentage of the cost of the house, or alternatively on a time, or “per hour” basis. Although it is obviously good business sense to negotiate your fee with your architect, in my opinion, one should be weary of employing an architect who quotes a fee far below what is recommended in the standard fee scale. This is generally a pretty good indicator that you will be paying for sub-standard service. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and seldom more.

6. When does the job of an architect end? Who manages the building project?

As discussed before, an architect can assist you right from the beginning with site selection, all the way through to final completion of your home, and anywhere in between. If you feel that you have enough expertise and time to control the construction phase of your home after having the designs and drawings completed by your architect, that is fine. The recommended fee scale we spoke about earlier is also structured in a way that defines and breaks the whole project down into 6 clearly identifiable phases. This makes it easy to match your requirements with your available budget and level of involvement in the process. Obviously contracting an architect to oversee all aspects of the project helps minimize the potential pitfalls associated with dealing with builders, and also generally results in a better final product, in a shorter timespan.

7. Tell us about Sergio Nunes Architects and how can we get hold of you for more information?

Sergio Nunes Architects was established in 2006, and since then we have completed a number of successful residential as well as commercial projects, with many return clients. We pride ourselves on assisting our clients in realising their construction objectives and strive towards designing practical, and beautiful buildings and spaces. Architecture is our passion, and I believe it shows in our buildings. If you would like to find out more about what we do and how we can assist you with your project, you can brows through our content and contact us through our website,”

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