You get what you pay for

Build a house and architect tools

It’s a cliche for a reason, but you really do get what you pay for, especially when it comes to architects or “architectural technicians” as the case may be.

When we bought the house, we knew we would need to extend into the back garden and into the recess in between our house and our property boundary. We also knew we wanted to take a few walls down and remove a chimney or two, to make the space open plan. In a larger home I wouldn’t necessarily go straight to open plan, but as we are in a terraced property, we are looking for ways to make the space feel bigger.

Eager to get started this process, we enlisted the services of the first architectural technician we met – a lovely man who shall not be named. We liked him immediately and his prices were the best around (e.g. what we could afford after having just bought a house). We couldn’t believe our luck! But was it really luck…?

As we started working together I noticed a lack of vision. We discussed putting another bathroom underneath our staircase and he drew this so that the door would open straight into the kitchen. Nobody wants a toilet opening into a kitchen. When we pushed him for more ideas, it became apparent he had none. As the versions of plans came through the post and the confusing emails started rolling in I really struggled with whether to continue working with him or whether to move on. Against my better judgment we stayed with him and as a result, have experienced multiple technical issues with the build that should have been very apparent.

For instance, he decided to redirect our drain pipes and advocated for us to pursue an entirely new connection to the mains sewers. In doing this, it would have required applying for a permit to the local water authority, hiring a plumber with authority approval and all of the fees associated with the unnecessary step. Furthermore, we would have had to put a manhole cover in our brand new kitchen!

Luckily, our builder has proved to be 1000x more competent and has been able to deal with these issues. But let this be a note of caution and some advice:

  1. Trust your gut. If you’re working with someone and you’re not comfortable or are unimpressed, push back. You are paying for the work and you have a right to get what you want! The outcome of your work depends on getting the basics right.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for references. We should have and we didn’t. Any good tradesman/service provider will have happy clients and should be willing to put you in touch.
  3. Move along. In hindsight, we should have taken the first set of plans and found another technician but out of a sense of loyalty, we decided to stick with him, knowing we weren’t getting the full service we needed or deserved.

Happy planning!

 

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