Frequently asked questions
Reading a standard two-dimensional plan can be confusing. Even if you do work out where the walls, windows, and doors are, you may not get an accurate feel for how the design will look in real life.
Ask your architect/ designer how your project will be presented. Most now use software to render 3D images that can be rotated and viewed from multiple angles.
Good designers and builders let other people do their marketing for them, getting a lot of their work through recommendations and word of mouth. It may be that you have been told by a friend how great they are, but it always makes sense to back this up with a few other viewpoints from those who have had the same company do a similar job to yours. Ensure they have the skills and experience you need for your job by asking to see a selection of references. Most companies will also send photos of their work and, in give you the contact details of these customers so you can hear what they really think. Do contact them as a conversation could set your mind at rest or uncover reasons to move on.
A series of regular staged payments to a schedule agreed by the both of you is the most common process, with the final instalment held back for a period of months until you are completely happy that all work has been complete and all items from any snagging list have been addressed. If they insist on all or a large proportion of the costs up front then you should move on to a different company.
This should relate to estimates in the lead up to the work, and quotes before the work gets underway. An estimate gives you a rough idea of what the cost might be, but a quote provides a more specific outline of prices and should pinpoint any costs which could be subject to change along the way and why that might happen. Essentially, a quote should be easy to understand, logical and provide guidance on cost certainty.
It’s important to ask for a full quote in writing, with a breakdown of work and materials needed, along with any extras such as skip hire. This gives you a document you can refer back to if your builder charges you more than they should in the end or if the outcome is anything other than what you expected from the project.
This is something that many people take for granted, but it’s worth checking. After all, if the answer is no, and you hadn’t asked them at the outset, it could put you in a very difficult position. Public liability insurance is a minimum requirement but they may need additional permits and insurances for other aspects of the work, such as waste removal. Please do not simply accept their word for it. If your builder says they are insured then ask if they would mind showing you their certificate. It’s just good practice and a prepared builder will have it with them when they go out on a quote.
Many projects can run over for various reasons, unavoidable issues could arise during the project that cause delays or a Project could be poorly managed, materials ordered late, workers not turning up and your project starts taking a lot longer than the original plan.
What assurances will your builder give you that this project will be managed and organised well?
How long will the project take? How can you measure if it is taking longer than expected?
How will you know when certain items need to be ordered?
What will happen if you run overtime?
Will they be providing a timeline/schedule of works?
Things to bear in mind – Adding extra’s means additional time. Many clients add additional works throughout the project and then expect the builder to finish at the same time as the original completion date. This is unrealistic, if there are additional works required the likelihood is this will take additional time. However, agree with the builder how they will relay this to you. Will they update the schedule of works?
Buildings of the world consume:
40% of the world's energy & materials
25% of the wood harvested
17% of our water
most of us spend 90% of our time indoors.
Our way of life is killing us. Our buildings consume over 40% of our energy and resources and their use represents 70% of our total consumption. The environmental damage caused in the last hundred years is a direct result from how our buildings are built. Architects, designers, and all building professionals are in a position to affect great change on our environment, more so than any other group, since our buildings are responsible for most of the damage.
"Green building" (also known as "sustainable," "ecological," and "eco-designed") is a way of looking at buildings in terms of reducing energy use, conserving water, improving indoor air quality, and reducing dependence on our natural resources. Although the basic concepts for green building have been around for decades, it has only been in the last few years that we have seen this explosive growth in the greening of the construction industry.
The legacy of what we build is left to our children and grandchildren. The buildings we build now should be ones that not only last for a very long time, but that also create healthy environments for our kids. Teaching them about the value of a healthy environment means it doesn’t become something they have to teach their kids, it is just something that is their baseline. A good designer should show them the value of great air quality, let them learn about materials that don’t off-gas horrible chemicals for them to breathe into their developing bodies, and explain how quality materials will last, while shoddy ones will just need to be replaced.
The rise in energy costs, shortage of building materials and growing consumer demands are driving this market to seek out better and more efficient ways to build our buildings. In addition, new legislation, stricter building codes, and rising health costs are forcing builders to build green whether they want to or not.
A good designer will advise clients on the ethical sourcing of finishes and will advise on throughout the supply chain. They will endeavour to reduce the embodied carbon through intelligent specification and by sourcing local as much as possible.The designer will understand where the product has been sourced to how it is maintained (avoiding harsh chemicals) to how it will be recycled in the future. This will allow the client to make a more informed choice.