Five Myths About Architects

January 21, 2016

 

The following is a story by Maya Anderson which has appeared in The West Australian, https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/lifestyle/a/30609776/five-myths-about-architects/ 

 

If you were to make a list of 10 of the world’s most misunderstood professions, I think architecture would be prominent.

 

 

The profession is an area where myths abound about everything from what an architect does to how much they earn and the size of their egos.

 

 

Australian Institute of Architects WA Chapter president Philip Griffiths said the field was something of a mysterious one, with debate among people who had not engaged with the profession about what an architect actually does.

 

 

“Architects are trained to listen to clients very carefully to understand the requirements and then apply their professional skills to the design, documentation, tendering and construction and delivery of a project through administering the construction contract,” he said.

 

 

“Flowing from a generally vague appreciation of what architects do are the myths that have been perpetuated for some time, including that architects just want to design cool-looking buildings, only undertake big commissions, are expensive, provide the same service as designers, are not good listeners, expect upfront fees, have large egos, are pretty much all the same, just make nice pictures and only wear black.

 

 

“However, as with most myths, the reverse is usually the truth — except perhaps for the propensity to favour black from time to time — and in fact, the profession is based on the opposites to the myths,” Mr Griffiths said.

 

 

He offered the following to help bust some of these myths.

 

MYTH 1: ARCHITECTS ARE EXPENSIVE

 

 

Not necessarily — in fact, an architect can actually save you money.

 

 

Mr Griffiths said fees were based on specific instructions and circumstances. “While architects who are in high demand for a specific field might charge a premium, most architects are highly competitive and are very aware of their operating environment,” he said.

 

 

Mr Griffiths said that the economic and physical value an architect adds to a project far outweigh the initial outlay, with architects investing time in planning to avoid any unnecessary or surprise costs.

 

 

Architects invested time in planning to avoid any unnecessary or surprise costs.

 

MYTH 2: ARCHITECTS HAVE BIG EGOS AND ARE BAD LISTENERS

 

 

The image of a selfish architect who designs his or her over-the-top dream house at the expense of the clients’ budget is a myth.

 

 

Mr Griffiths said architects worked to a client’s brief that had been thoughtfully created after extensive discussions, carefully listening to the client and developing solutions for a home designed perfectly for the client’s lifestyle, preferences and personal tastes.

 

 

“Architects need to put aside ego to ensure they are good listeners, communicators and negotiators resulting in a good service to clients,” he said.

 

 

“Architects want to design good-looking, functional buildings that perform well so clients are satisfied and will recommend them to new clients.”

 

MYTH 3: ARCHITECTS AND BUILDING DESIGNERS ARE THE SAME

 

 

Incorrect.

 

 

It’s important thing to know the term architect is protected by legislation so only those who have fulfilled the necessary requirements can register as architects and use the term. This distinguishes them from other practitioners.

 

 

Mr Griffiths said architects and building designers might appear to offer similar skills and services but the key distinction is the level of education, training and ongoing registration compliance.

 

 

“Architects must go down a much more vigorous path, completing an accredited five-year degree and years of work experience before undertaking an onerous registration process in order to legally be called an architect — building designers do not need to do this,” he said.

 

 

“Statutory architects’ registration bodies exist in all States and Territories to protect and promote the safety and interests of consumers in their dealings with architects; there is no equivalent body for building designers.

 

 

“Ultimately for consumers, the term architect has a strong consumer-protection dimension to it.”

 

 

You can check if an architect is listed on the Architects Board of WA by visiting architectsboard.org.au.

 

MYTH 4: ARCHITECTS WORK ONLY ON BIG, LUXURIOUS HOUSES

 

 

Not necessarily — smaller projects come with many of their own challenges, such as site restrictions, that might require the expertise of an experienced architect.

 

 

Mr Griffiths said architects would undertake almost any sized commission and even thrived on small, challenging projects because they operated in practices of all sizes and had diverse interests. Some might specialise in small-block homes, some in heritage renovations or multi-home buildings.

 

 

“All architects are not the same and clients can research potential architects to assess the huge range of design skills available before deciding who best suits them,” he said.

 

MYTH 5: ARCHITECTS CANNOT WAIT TO STING YOU WITH HIDDEN COSTS

 

 

An architect wants your design and building process to be enjoyable and pleasant, not one burdened by financial pressure — they want you to be thrilled with the finished outcome. Mr Griffiths said architects took the time to explain every cost and every phase to their clients.

 

 

“Architects agree fees appropriate to each project and which are relevant to each stage, so clients have a good appreciation of their obligations at all stages,” he said.

 

 

Maya Anderson writes the homes and design blog House Nerd at house-nerd.com

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