Architecture / June 22, 2018 / .
The choice of the architect as lead designer is a key decision on any project and will reflect the clients priorities, particularly those related to cost and quality. Clients who plan to develop high quality or landmark developments often employ high profile design practices. Indeed internationally acclaimed architects including Daniel Liebskind, Santiago Calatrava and Dublin-born Pritzker prize-winning Kevin Roche have completed projects in Dublin in the recent past. The leading Irish architectural practices are likewise normally in high demand and clients are keen to buy into their signature. High expectations are usually linked to high prices and such clients will expect to pay a premium on prestigious projects. Nevertheless, they may not be prepared to provide total carte blanche to the architect. Architects, quite naturally, may be reluctant to drop quality standards and compromise their brand to reduce costs and it may difficult for the quantity surveyor to control costs in these circumstances. In this regard Ashworth refers to a cynic who described architecture as the design of beautiful buildings that satisfy only the architect and not the client. At the other end of the cost spectrum a client may require a practical, nononsense design to accommodate a production process. Such designs are often developed by architects operating within a design and build arrangement where providing an economic design is essential to winning the contract.
When considering building a new home, completely redesigning or doing a major addition on an existing home, the reality is there is a certain amount of money budgeted for the project. With a finite amount of money, if you were to only focus on the size of the house, the quality would suffer. The same is true of the inverse–using all of the best finishes and choosing high-end materials to enhance the quality of the home will necessitate a smaller-sized home. You must have a balance between size and quality. This relationship is not always obvious at first, but I have found that by talking with my clients about making smart choices and decisions, they can achieve a balance between size and quality and achieve their dream home.
The relationship of quality to cost is often expressed in the saying that you get what you pay for. Cost is a critical factor in most building projects and some clients will seek a low price. Low price and maximum price competition, however, often have negative impacts on quality standards and achieving best value for money overall. In the current economic climate below cost tendering has heightened the risk of contractor insolvency and it may be difficult and expensive to obtain protection from this risk. Unrealistic and inadequate budgets often lead to projects becoming finance driven where cheaper options are preferred to better or more sustainable alternatives. Certain clients may have fixed budgets which may not be exceeded in any circumstances. In such circumstances the client will expect the quantity surveyor to maintain rigorous cost control during the project in order to deliver the project within budget. Designing to achieve such cost limits might curtail the introduction of beneficial features and or variations which may result in excessive running and maintenance costs later on.
The worst part about lowering the quality as you increase the size is that it eventually lowers the re-sale price. Take a look online in the neighborhood or area of town you are interested in and look for only homes that all cost the same amount of money, say a million dollars. When I do this exercise, I almost always find some larger homes that are not all that attractive and some smaller homes that are well-designed and beautiful. Bigger does not translate into better resale value. The price per square foot of a home with a focus on quality is higher than a larger home that sacrificed quality for size. And this only becomes more evident as the home ages.