Some Advice...

1.  Expertise

If you are building a house, extending or fitting out a new office, you will next expertise to navigate a minefield of regulations and potential costs. You will also want to get value for your money. Hiring any professional in any capacity takes a certain amount of open mindedness, however, when you’re considering hiring an architect or designer, it’s imperative that you understand the flexibility required in projects.We are highly trained and experienced professionals who have spent years studying building codes, interior and exterior design, structural integrity etc…RUA Architects bring added value to project with a view to the entire interior and exterior scheme design. We have a long list of national and international awards that will give you confidence in your decision to hire us. 

2.  Specialisation

RUA Architects specialise in award winning interiors and low energy buildings. We are Passive House Designers and are the most award winning interiors practice in Ireland (25 National and International Awards). Projects have been recognised with awards in Milan, New York, London, Singapore and Dublin. An award winning project can add significant value to you asset and attractive to both visitors and staff.  

3.  Timeline

Many people are unaware of the design and building process and we have all seen the nightmares on TV where people take it into their own hands, costing them more money and time. A typical project includes initial meetings, outline budgets, a design process, detailed cost estimations, compliance with regulations,  construction drawings, tendering, site works, fit-out, completions and snagging.   RUA set out realistic timelines and costs (with a QS) at the outset. Variations in this timeline can occur depending on planning and decision making. We only get involved in projects with main contractors as the legislative context is just too messy with direct trades. 

4.  Budget

Hiring professional help does cost money, and hiring an architect is no exception to the rule. Here is a link the usual services expected of an architect.

The fees depend on the extent of the work and the services required. The RIAI carried out a useful survey which indicates the fee for houses and renovations. RUA Architects work a lot with existing buildings, renovations, extensions and new builds. 

To avoid delays or confusion along the way, be sure to have your budgetary requirements set from the start. Discuss these with the us and ask if we can work within those constraints. Some outline ideas of cost that we have experienced in 2016 were €1800/m2 for new build house (including finishes) with a usual retrofit budget coming in around €800/m2 (Kitchens can create a huge variation depending on aspiration). Remember, keep realistic expectations about the time the project will take, as this can affect the budget. In Ireland, we ask clients to make sure they have the capital credit approved soon after the initial budget so you avoid incurring design costs and then find you can't get a mortgage! 

5.  Think Long term!

No matter how anxious you are to get a project completed, a good professional architect and designer will take the long-term into consideration. You want the project to last, without having to put more money into it; you want a home that is not filled with trendy ideas that will fizzle in the future. We try to think of the transience of your building over time. There are things that are more important to budget for, like a good floor, windows or insulation, rather than a very expensive kitchen or fancy wall tiles. Expect some suggestions that might help your project today, but could also increase building value, efficiency and flexibility for the future.

 Whoever you end up hiring be sure that your architect is the pro who knows all about quality design, building performance and functionality for your family or business. 

6.  Sometimes you need a Design Team

Depending on how involved your project is, the architect or designer you hire may require more minds and hands to help accomplish the final goal. This means hiring more than one person. Typically for a house, we will need an initial land survey, a quantity surveyor to do an initial cost/detailed budget, an engineer to sign off on the structural design, a BER assessor and depending on the project potentially you may need an Assigned Supervisor, Health & Safety and Fire engineer. Don't worry, we can outline who you need fairly early in the project. 

7.  It may get messy

Architects are in the business of building, however, demolishing inevitably precedes the creation. This means things can get messy. Be sure to discuss the demolition process and possible staging of works. You will have to  move residence if it is a retrofit as you will have no water or electricity. Believe me you do not want to live on a building site, I've done it! If you have to move out for a while have you budgeted fr this (an extension could be 3-4 months). Will there be early morning noise interruptions for neighbours? When do they end their work day? All of these things should be considered. 

8.  Change is to be expected!

While initial conversations with a hired architect may seem set in stone, professionals understand that many things can change along the way, especially in a retrofit where there may be hidden surprises! You’ll want to discuss how you’ll deal with changes contractually before work begins. We usually set a contingency budget depending on the amount of unknowns, new builds have a smaller contingency (10%) and conservation building retrofits are very complex (30%). This budget is only spent in the eventuality that a problem arises. We will always be sure to discuss major changes or costs right away before engaging them. This will help you avoid stress or project roadblocks!

9.  Communicaiton is critical!

Before you ever sign a contract, be sure you are able to establish a clear line of communication with your architect. Clear communication is the ultimate key to a successful project. Understanding acceptable times to be in contact and creating a regular schedule for updates is essential to keeping a project on track and your working relationship successful. It also reduces stress between you and your architect or designer.

10.  God is in the detail

Architects are generally creative minds, but they are also business oriented; therefore, it’s expected that the contracts will be  full of details as well as the documentation.

It’s important to get on board with the idea of strict documentation to protect both yourself and your architect before you decide to hire on. Once everything is in writing, both parties are more secure and feel safe to proceed with plans. Remember no design work is done without a signed contract. 

Depending on the job at hand, there can be a lot of details to work out before a project begins, so be patient and don’t rush it. A rushed job is never a successful job.

 

RUA Architects pride themselves in the detailing. 

Marc Ó Riain FIDI 
Registered Designer
Certified Passive House Designer

Interiors & Research Director

marc@ruaarchitects.ie

Tel: 353-87-6104990

Deborah Ni Riain MRIAI
Registered Architect
Certified Passive House Designer

Architectural Director

deborah.niriain@cit.ie

Tel: 353-86-3465295