"We do things good, fast and cheap. Choose any two of the three..."
All kidding aside, designing, redesigning, or renovating any size of project be it an entire building or an interior space, often involves a significant investment of time, money and effort. Hiring a professional is the best way to ensure you get value for your investment. It also provides peace of mind knowing that your project will:
. Meet your needs and expectations
. Be both functional and aesthetically pleasing
. Make the most of available space
. Potentially contribute to improved quality of life
. Meet building code requirements and life-safety standards
. Meet universal accessibility guidelines (where applicable)
. Incorporate sustainable design and ergonomics (if requested)
Many potential clients contact our office to inquire about hiring an Architect having only a vague or preconceived idea of what it is that we do. The most obvious thinking is that "Architects do drawings in order to get a permit." This is true, but there is also a number of basic questions which any potential client should have answered.
When is an Architect required?
Many people are unaware that you don't require an Architect when you are planning a single-family home of limited size or undertaking a small commercial venture, and we at JWAI make potential clients aware of this fact. Other projects, while small in size may actually require an Architect (and possibly Engineers) due to their intended use. The Ontario Building Code identifies whether a given project requires Architects and/or Engineers to undertake 'design and review' according to the intended 'Occupancy'. The general Occupancy breakdown includes Assembly, Care or Detention, Residential, Business & Personal Service, Mercantile and Industrial. For specific occupancies such as Assembly or the Care or Detention type, the requirement for an Architect and/or Engineer is automatic. For Residential, Business & Personal Service, Mercantile and Industrial occupancies, the area of the building and/or the number of storeys in building height are determining factors relating to the Architect and/or Engineer requirement.
Why should I hire an Architect if it's not a requirement?
In spite of not requiring an Architect, the process of taking an idea and getting it built can be a little overwhelming to many. Today, even small projects can require an understanding of the approvals and construction process which may be unfamiliar to alot of people. A fair number of projects that JWAI takes on do not require an Architect, however clients quickly understand the value of having someone who understands the 'big picture' and who can steer the project from ideas to concepts to technical design and onward through the approvals process, tendering and construction review. There are many 'designers' who undertake architectural design and working drawings when an Architect is not required [See above], however an Architect has been granted a license to practice in the Province of Ontario only after having undertaken a lengthly [documented and reviewed] experience program and passed the required examinations administered by the Ontario Association of Architects. It is mandatory that practicing Architects maintain indemnity insurance either through the firm they work for or by having their own Certificate of Practice. Continuing education requirements also ensure that the level of professionalism provided by Architects is second to none.
What Services does an Architect offer me in addition to "doing drawings for Permit"?
Each project is different and discussions take place early on as to who will be involved to meet the projects specific needs. Clients may come to us with no idea how to move forward and are looking for direction as to where to start, whereas other clients may already have clear direction and well-developed ideas and need us to implement them. An Architect often acts as the 'prime Consultant' on a project coordinating various Consultants, recommending Contractors or sub-Trades and acting as a liason between the client and all other parties involved in the project in addition to producing drawings and specifications. Each project is assessed on it's own merits and our role as Architect in the project may vary, ranging from conceptual work (only) to complete design including interiors, millwork and finishes. The following list may help clarify the services we at JWAI offer...
. Preparation of Clients Program of Building Requirements
. Coordination of Consultants
. Establishment of overall project Budget and periodic review (with client)
. Establishment of overall project Schedule and periodic review (with client)
. Background work related to local by-laws and standards and determination of compliance
. Development of creative design ideas (for both interior and exterior) and production of conceptual drawings and renderings
. Development of 3-dimensional renderings (if requested by client)
. Verification of Building Code Compliance
. Coordination and preparation of documents for submission to Municipalities or other agencies
. Review of Construction
. Payment Certification (if applicable)
. Certification of Construction Completion