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-   -   engaging an architect (https://www.englishforum.ch/housing-general/269697-engaging-architect.html)

nja 07.05.2017 12:36

engaging an architect
 
Does anyone know what the standard procedure for engaging an architect is? I'd like to get some offers for a house renovation. Will I have to pay each firm for an initial "concept"?

meloncollie 07.05.2017 13:14

Re: engaging an architect
 
Most likely yes.

If a simple house, expect anywhere from 2000 to upwards of 5K per concept and quote. Ask upfront what the cost of an initial concept or quote would be.

Any architect who is coy about pricing at this stage should be dropped like a hot potato.

Of course you need to get quotes from several architects in order to do due diligence - believe me, the differences can be astounding.

That's a lot of cash to splash out to find out if an architect is even on the same page with you, so first whittle your list down by looking for local references. Anytime you hear of a renovation project in town, ask the owners who they used.

You can save time and money upfront by researching all local regs yourself. Get thee to the Bauamt! Give the architects you are considering as detailed specs as possible, include your drawings, documentation of existing structures, and state max budget upfront. Drop architects who in your initial discussion broach ideas that are clearly against regs and thus never going to get permitted, and drop any architect who has not already done a renovation very similar to what you have in mind.

Do you think you are going to need permits? If so, try to find out if your Gemeinde is one of those where ... ahem... certain firms seem to have an easier time getting permits.

If you don't need an architect to sign off on permits - would engaging a Bauleiter rather than an architect suffice? IME, it was the Bauleiter, not the architect who made our project happen. The architect we used turned out to be just a very expensive hindrance, provided no value.


Good luck... and keep the ulcer medication handy!

(Only sort of joking...)

nja 07.05.2017 13:22

Re: engaging an architect
 
Wow. This is very helpful. Thank you so much. It's good to know that it's normal to pay for an initial concept/ideas. My husband thinks we shouldn't need to. (He is the Swiss. :). It may be easier to sell/buy something else.

RTN 08.05.2017 12:20

Re: engaging an architect
 
To add to what Meloncolie said, time is money here never more so than in the building game, buyer beware is never more relevant. Renovation is such a wide loosely used term here it is hard to advise but if it includes structural work/major plumbing or electrical upgrades you need an architect, if it is more surface/design changes (kitchen/painting/tiles/floor) then maybe look for an interior designer who has a team of good tradespersons as a cheaper option.

Either way you need to project manage it unless cost is not an issue! First is scope and budget, budget - start backwards, what absolute maximum you can afford to spend? minus 25% and that is your starting budget. Scope, list everything possible you want done, divide this list into two lists, wishes and must haves. Spend a week on the internet getting images and ideas to match your scope list include links to write a project brief you can email.

Realize also that in spite of an Architect's ability to speak English it does not mean they can or want to work with foreigners, we are difficult and different compared to their Swiss clients!

nja 08.05.2017 12:24

Re: engaging an architect
 
Thanks. Helpful.

dodgyken 08.05.2017 12:29

Re: engaging an architect
 
1) Speak to the Bauamt about what is allowed and also how much space/volume you have to play with

2) If you haven't lived in the place for a decent amount of time - do so. Your ideas will likely change

3) Make a concrete list (no pun intended) of exactly where your current layout hinders your life - and then whittle it down to changes which will actually improve your life

4) Sketch your ideas

5) Go back to the Bauamt

6) Speak to your neighbours

7) Resketch your ideas

8) Go back to the Bauant

9) Speak to architects

Mrs. Doolittle 08.05.2017 12:58

Re: engaging an architect
 
I would not hire an architect without a reference or two. It is not about whether you liked their work, because that would have been their client's wishes. You want to know what the architect was like to work with.

I know people who are happy with the finished product but would never recommend their architect to anyone.

Although an architect may only give you names of people who will likely give a good reference, that does not mean those people cannot tell you things to be wary of, or things they learned along the way.

krlock3 08.05.2017 13:36

Re: engaging an architect
 
We refurbished without an architect, because althought the refurb we did was extensive, it only required the removal of one non load bearing wall. A bauleiter was much more important.

What is the scope of your potential renovation?

FCBarca 08.05.2017 16:42

Re: engaging an architect
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nja (Post 2782738)
Does anyone know what the standard procedure for engaging an architect is? I'd like to get some offers for a house renovation. Will I have to pay each firm for an initial "concept"?



Dépends on the extent of the 'initial concept'. We interviewed 3 architects and they provided free consultations and initial designs

nja 08.05.2017 18:34

Re: engaging an architect
 
Were you happy with them? I'm looking for creativity. We have an "odd" home and need some brilliant ideas.

FCBarca 08.05.2017 23:09

Re: engaging an architect
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nja (Post 2783504)
Were you happy with them? I'm looking for creativity. We have an "odd" home and need some brilliant ideas.

I'm not sure anyone is ever 100% satisfied with any architect or builder. We didn't like designs from 2 of the 3 architects while the 3rd was much more creative (Ultimately perhaps too creative as we encountered issues that they failed to recognize ahead of breaking ground). We also were quoted significantly different prices to build the home too

Most people these days I suspect shop around for a variety of everyday items, architect seems like the sort of thing you should do extensive research on - interview people who have had their homes done by them or at a minimum view the homes. Once past the architect, bigger issues will be ahead from all the subcontractors and builders who will present an entirely different set of hurdles

nja 08.05.2017 23:24

Re: engaging an architect
 
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I will clearly have to consider very carefully whether I'm up for this. It may be more enjoyable to downsize now that the kids are grown. And explore new potential homes/locations in Switzerland.

Last question (s) :msngrin:. In the end, was it worth it? Would you do it again?

krlock3 09.05.2017 11:52

Re: engaging an architect
 
In my case it was a huge strain... luckily at the time I had an understanding employer that let me come in to work a bit later during the refurb so that i could sort out the daily (and in my case I mean daily!) issues that cropped up.

The whole thing was genuinely very stressful, but upon moving in we were very happy, the hard times were forgotten, and we enjoy the sense of accomplishment... even though it's quite a personal thing... what I mean is, for example, if someone visits us, they might just see a nicely made standard sort of room, whereas I see all the many decisions and work that went into it.

Personally I wouldn't want to do it again though, certainly not for a number of years...!

Helm 09.05.2017 12:25

Re: engaging an architect
 
You can engage an architect by calling and making an appointment. They don't bite. :p

About prices, people have to understand something very clearly: making a budget for building a new house, or even worse, a renovation (which always has the danger of hiding big problems), means the architect needs to actively look into your plans, city chamber rules, and draft some first ideas.

It's not a simple put m2 in excel sheet and let it be calculated by some magic formula.

So, yes, most will ask for their quote to be paid. Because making a quote usually means already starting some work, and let's be fair, no one likes to work for free.

That said, you can inform yourself as much as possible - as in, write down your very clear wishes instead of just shrugging your shoulders and going "I don't know what I want exactly". Check for some big no-noes - like, are you even allowed to turn that attic into living quarters?

Then be as open with your architect as possible from the beginning. Don't hide surprises - we freaking hate surprises, specially the "1957 Bauverbot" kind of surprises :msnmad: - and ask them if they can take you, and how much it would be to get a quote. Usually the price for the quote is "forgiven" if you build with the office that gave you that quote. Sometimes the quote is for free - depending on how much the architect trusts you (ours are usually for free because our clients know each other and we base our business in fellow trust).

Give the architects the respect they deserve (I wish more people would, and stop treating us like either some Balrog or leeches), look for one that belongs to the SIA (usually hiring glorified "architects" ends in big trouble). Some smaller works can be done by the needed specialist without an architect - carpenter, tinsmith, etc - but please hire a proper professional for big jobs, or for jobs which include sensible areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms and load bearing walls.

But really, we don't bite :) Just knock on the door, or give a quick call. It's important to make sure they can actually take you, as some offices are just too busy atm (SPRING TIME!).

FCBarca 09.05.2017 13:20

Re: engaging an architect
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nja (Post 2783662)
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I will clearly have to consider very carefully whether I'm up for this. It may be more enjoyable to downsize now that the kids are grown. And explore new potential homes/locations in Switzerland.

Last question (s) :msngrin:. In the end, was it worth it? Would you do it again?



I have a neighbor/friend who has done several new construction & refurbishments and she tells me that you never get it right until the 3rd time.


I think there's something to that since the first time is unlikely to be a perfect experience. For us, we have only the 1 experience and absolutely Worth it as we have a home we love and we would change very little. It's a herculean task though so be aware of that


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