Building projects are very complex and costly endeavours – and cosequently disputes are commonplace. Successful, dispute-free building projects rely on teamwork so having an architect on your team can make all the difference.
Archicentre Australia, the national architect’s advisory service, is regularly contacted by people who are in in dispute with a builder or trades-person over their renovation or new home.
Their disputes are usually about one, or sometimes all, of three things – the scope of work, the completion of work and/or the quality of work.
Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev says the number of disputes in Australia has increased with the prevalence of volume-based residential construction along with the ‘wild west’ approach to building procurement.
“In Europe an orderly and fair approach is adopted where architects guide building procurement ‘by statute’.
In Australia, the long-standing approach means that only the squeaky wheel customers belonging to troublesome projects are highlighted, exacerbated by the fact that builder-based building contracts are inherently biased towards the builder.”
Peter Georgiev says there are a range of issues that can spiral into costly, time-consuming and extremely frustrating disputes. These range from poor conception and unrealistic expectations at the outset to being drawn into using a poor or no contract.
“The first of these matters is easily addressed by seeking an Archicentre Australia Design Feasibility before embarking on a potentially overambitious project with little or no design benefit. This process seeks to establish a tailored target.
“Engaging with an architect from the outset means you are also engaging with a traditional, qualified project manager who can deal with all matters, including design, client liaison, co-ordination of consultants, construction and building contracts.
“Negotiating with builders and contractors, as well as all others involved in the process of building a new home or adding to an existing home is complex. If you are not a part of and don’t understand the business of building, you can make a mess of this, so it is important to seek the expert assistance of an independent, community-based architect.”
He says having a comprehensive building contract at the start of the process can avoid many of the common issues relating to disputes.
“It is essential to have a written contract in place for building work to set out what’s being done, when it’s supposed to be done and who’s paying what to who. A good building contract doesn’t just cover the basics.
“Builders or contractors presented with simple, vague drawings for pricing have to make all sorts of assumptions about what people want and they aren’t mind-readers.
“If you want a firm, reliable price for your project you have to put some time and effort into specifying everything you want,” Peter Georgiev says, “right down to the type of cabinet handles, the number of power points and the type of the kitchen sink! If you don’t have the time – and many do not – engage an architect to assist you.
He says building industry standard contracts include a variety of statutory based consumer protection provisions such as deposit limits, clarification of insurance obligations and practitioner registration requirements. They also address payment terms, time extension procedures and damages in the event of late completion.
“Architect administered standard contracts do all of that and include the architect as an assessor and certifier. This takes the double personality role of builder based contracts out of the picture – as these contracts require the builder to be both the builder and building certifier.
“A bad building contract won’t properly cover any of these things and might even be worded to your disadvantage. The challenge is to be able to tell a good contract from a bad one.”
Members of Archicentre Australia do not conform to ‘niche’ or ‘starcitect’ trends, Peter Georgiev says. “Our member architects facilitate rather than impose, while our website – www.archicentreaustralia.com.au – enables potential customers to gain confidence to engage effectively with our architects.”
For more information go to www.archicentreaustralia.com.au
This media release has been written and distributed by:
Peter Georgiev, Director
Level 1, 9 Strathalbyn Street,
Kew East, VICTORIA, 3102
Phone: 1300 13 45 13 | 03 9859 9950