You will need to provide your architect with a survey of the property with a legal description and unless the site is flat, a topographical survey (contour map) of the site along with a description of any unusual site or climatic conditions. Plans of the existing building will also be needed. A clearly defined budget is also very important.
Design time is affected by the size and complexity of the project. It is not unusual for the design process to take two to three months for a simple project and preparation of the construction documents is equally time-consuming. During this period critical decisions are made which will affect the overall success of your project. Don’t expect everything to happen overnight.
While the contractor and building inspector have important jobs to do, their priorities are different and they are not employed to look after your best interests the way an architect is. When the unexpected arises, as most often happens during renovations, the architect has the experience and familiarity with the design to foresee implications and make decisions or design revisions competently and with the least delay.
In many cases, the house will already be non-conforming, and you may require committee of Adjustment approval. You may find your proposed changes don’t comply with local zoning or building codes. Even owners who meet the code requirements sometimes find they’ve spent a lot of money renovating their house only to find that what they’ve done now detracts from it’s resale value. Building is a complicated process and few people have the knowledge to be able to handle it alone, you need some specialized expertise. Also, it’s all too easy to think only about immediate changes which need doing. This can be expensive. Be willing to think beyond this year to your long-term ‘wish list’ for the house. Even if you’re only able to do the first phase this year, a phased masterplan designed to fit your budget will save you money in the long run.
Once you have reached a mutually acceptable agreement on the services to be provided, the architect’s fees and reimbursable expenses can be determined. Architectural fees are structured on either an hourly basis, a percentage of the cost of construction, or as a negotiated lump sum. Recommended guidelines such as the publication called ‘Outline of Services and Schedule of Recommended Fees’ are available from the OAA.
The Ontario Association of Architects is a self-regulating organization governed by the Architects Act, which is a statute of the Government of Ontario. The Association is dedicated to promoting and increasing the knowledge, skill and proficiency of its members, and administering the Architects Act, in order that the public interest may be served and protected.
Ontario’s architects are highly trained professionals, bound by professional ethics and regulations. To be registered as an architect, an individual must meet demanding professional education requirements, gain years of experience in all aspects of architectural practice and pass extensive examinations.
Only members of the OAA may legally use the title ‘Architect’ and the credentials ‘OAA’ after their names. All architects offering services to the public must also have a ‘Certificate of Practice’ and belong to the OAA Indemnity Plan which insures all their projects.
For more information, contact the OAA.