The building industry is complex, ever changing and highly competitive. The impression that large building companies can produce a similar product to an architecturally designed home, or that one can cut-and-paste ideas from magazines, then throw them to a draftsperson or builder, is, in our opinion, very misleading. Unfortunately this has often made the position of architects seem mysterious, convoluted, abstract and sadly vulnerable to misinterpretation.
At WOLF ARCHITECTS, we aim to demystify and cut through the confusion to make our profession and its respective services easier to understand and more accessible without ever compromising on the quality we are renowned for. While there is no denying that it takes much skill, time, knowledge and experience to create great architecture, WOLF ARCHITECTS’ commitment to clear and transparent communication allows our design process to not only be efficient but enjoyable.
Below are ten of the most frequently asked questions. We hope this helps to better understand what we as Architects can offer, how the industry works and whether or not WOLF ARCHITECTS is right for you.
The course to become a registered architect is not brief as it averages 10 years between university and registration, far more than a drafts person or any other building designer. The title of Architect and term Architectural are protected by the Architectural Registration Boards and can only be used by those that have earned it.
Thus registered architects will in general be highly qualified, skilled and have a broad knowledge base. They think differently and are often the only people able to find creative solutions. They are the only professionals who are trained to understand space and how to get the most out of it. In doing so, the buildings they design are much more than just functional. They allow us to live gracefully and beautifully while enhancing our lives, our minds and the environment.
The architectural registration board of Victoria (ARBV) has a website that allows you to search names for confirmation of registry. This is a worthwhile exercise to ensure you are working with a genuine architect.
WOLF ARCHITECTS are experienced in both residential and commercial buildings and can offer what is known as the full range of architectural services from design through to contract administration. This range can be roughly broken down into the following eight steps:
- Initial consult to assess the feasibility of project and cost estimation.
- Schematic or concept designs.
- Design development with in-house interior and landscaping services.
- Town planning services for multi dwelling developments, heritage protected properties or situations where dispensation may be required – obtaining planning permits.
- Documentation or working drawings- Obtaining the building permit.
- Tendering and helping our clients to find the right building contractors for their project.
- Contract administration- administering the contract between the builder and client. This involves regular site inspections during construction to ensure that works are proceeding appropriately.
- Publishing and promotions- professional photography of the finished product for media exposure and competition entries.
Further to this WOLF ARCHITECTS can offer services as independent consultants. We can work together with you to resolve difficulties you may be having on a current project or perhaps you need help deciding on how best to proceed with a new project. As experts we are also available to lecture on various design issues or contribute to various publications.
The short answer to this is because architects have the ability to deliver better products. Unfortunately the employment of architects in Australia is often seen as an expensive luxury- a cost worth saving when building a home. The misconception of Architects being expensive has unfortunately resulted from being compared to draftsmen or other building designers and that is wrong because the two are very different even though they are within the same industry. Consider for example the difference between a nurse and a doctor, or fast food outlets to restaurants. There is no real comparison between architects and non architects, and this must be fully understood in order to appreciate the value of architects.
To be more specific an architect is valuable for the following reasons:
- Architects understand the true meaning of customization. A company that says “we give you three options to choose from” is not offering customization, especially if none of those options are perfect. Customized WOLF designs fulfil our client’s needs, are timeless and able to maintain good value over time.
- Architects will always look to please both heart and eye but never at the sacrifice of function. Buildings should function perfectly while simultaneously uplifting the spirit. Architects are trained to achieve this.
- Architects know how to respond to different or difficult sites. You’ll never get a display home onto your sloping or irregular block, and anyone else is very likely to make mess of things. Architects are trained to understand and be respectful of the sites context. While WOLF ARCHITECTS are always keen to make a statement we are careful to prevent our buildings from over dominating the context to become eyesores.
- A registered architect will have good experience, and experience counts in an industry that is always trying to cut costs and do things faster. The competency of an experienced architect is one of the best ways to minimize risk of costly mistakes. While the difference between an architect and a less qualified designer may be $50,000 (for example), it only takes a small mistake to blow the budget over $100,000.
- Where town planning is required in particular you need a good architect to help navigate the complexities of regulations, codes and even the diplomacy of the various councils. Time is money and a project that gets approved in a timely manner can make a big saving.
- Architects always have their client’s best interest at heart. WOLF ARCHITECTS have an honest approach with genuine care. We work for you and want you to get the most possible from of your investment.
- Architects offer a greener conscience as they are mindful of how buildings affect the environment. They are often at the forefront with new technologies and approaches towards energy efficiency.
- Furthermore the ability to label your project as being architecturally designed has important brand value because of the above reasons. It’s not surprising then that most architect designed homes break records when they come up for sale.
For those who understand and appreciate the value of architects the question is not whether or not they need an architect but rather if they can afford not to use an architect?
For many years architectural fees have been assumed as being 10% of a buildings construction costs. We believe that this can only be used as a guide or starting point for fees. What must be ascertained is what that 10% includes and to what extent. It may be far too little for clients expecting the Rolls Royce of services. On the other hand it may be too much for those only requiring a design concept.
The misconception of an architects fees being expensive has resulted from assumptions that drafts persons or other building designers are able to offer similar services when in fact they cannot- (See question 3 for reasons to use an architect). Whether the fee is 10% or 20% it is in fact very little if it assures that you will get exactly what you want. When building your own home or other significant project the peace of mind from getting exactly what you want is paramount and using an architect is critical to achieving this.
WOLF ARCHITECTS are able to match up to the best and our fees will reflect our professionalism and quality of work. Thus if you are shopping for the cheapest services you have probably come to the wrong place. If you do appreciate the value of architects then WOLF ARCHITECTS represent exceptional value.
Percentages to clients however, can seem arbitrary or even an incentive to make the project and designs more expensive. While they may be used as a basic guide, they can be misinterpreted. Thus most clients will prefer a lump sum fee based on agreed services. WOLF ARCHITECTS can often provide this for projects under $5 million, provided we are given accurate and realistic information from the client.
While our work has been widely published with numerous awards the best proof of our proficiency is in our portfolio. It boasts not only a wide variety of authentic work but a level of consistency in quality that is rare. Great care and attention is given to the entire project including the interior and landscaping.
At WOLF ARCHITECTS each projects falls into one of five categories and is built with appropriate budgets. Our website showcases work from each of those categories. Having identified which category your project falls under the standard illustrated in our portfolio is what you can expect for your own project.
Email us to find out which category your project falls into.
Many people are not in touch with what things cost and what is required to build a home. DIY reality TV shows and display homes that are mass produced from large companies often mislead people into believing that a new house is easy and cheap. We see these products as fast food and it makes sense that they are cheap and unhealthy. The buildings showcased on our website represent quality and in Australia you often get what you pay for. There is little benefit to paying as little as possible unless you are happy to have what can only be described as “Cheap and nasty”!
Depending on the category of work there will be an average cost per square or squared meter. At the lower economy end a WOLF house starts at roughly $2,500 per square meter to build (approx $23,200 per building square). A small 3 bedroom economy home averages 300 square meters in size (approx 32 squares) with construction costs beginning at $750,000+GST for the build only.
Most of our clients will fall into Category 2 and 3 where the house sizes range from 400 to 650 square meters (approx 43 – 70 building squares). These houses will range from $1.2 million to $3.5 million+GST.
Projects in categories 4 and 5 are more about getting what you want with less focus on the costs. A house of 80 squares may be built at $50,000 per square ($5387 per SM) for example and can cost in excess of $4 Million.
Email us to find out which category your project falls into.
The Wolf brand is an extension of the practice’s founder Taras Wolf and follows many of his principal design and work philosophies. He is the creative mind behind most projects and his ability to simply “Get it right” is a talent that no amount of training can produce. Most projects will at some point attain the WOLF seal of approval before reaching the client.
The strength of the practice however goes beyond one man and must be credited to its ability to operate harmoniously as a team who share the same attitude of “Getting it right”. All projects follow a process and system of works carefully based on Taras Wolf’s practice ideals and design philosophies. At the heart of this is an attitude of genuine care for the work and our clients. The WOLF system is a finely tuned instrument that enables the team to efficiently achieve the high standards we are renowned for.
At Wolf Architects our smaller 3 bedroom homes often start with a construction budget between $700,000+GST and $1.2 million+GST. This is for the basic build only without landscaping or luxury finishes. It also would not include fees for Architectural services and other consultants. Projects with budgets under 700,000+GST are usually appropriate for smaller renovations and extensions of which our practice does not specialise in.
As a boutique practice there are limits to the quantity or size of projects we can take on without compromising our standards. While we hate knocking back jobs, the practice is very careful to uphold its reputation as a valued opinion in the building design industry.
Designing houses between 400 to 1500 square meters (approx 43 – 160 squares) is what we live and breathe on a daily basis. Beyond this we are also well versed in multi unit developments with lot of experience and high success rate in obtaining planning permits. Commercial and Low-rise apartment buildings are also common projects of which we enjoy doing.
Every effort is made to learn from each project and improve upon all that was less than perfect. Over time this has resulted in a design process that works efficiently like a finely honed instrument.
This process however is complex and a result of working through thousands of decisions. While the end results are breathtaking it would be unfair to describe the journey as being simple or an exact science. A WOLF building requires intelligence, persistence, hard work, genuine care and most importantly “Time”. A WOLF product, like a fine work of Art takes time, should be savoured and not rushed.
The WOLF process is systematically broken down into different stages. Within each one are methods and approaches that help all members of our team to work efficiently together to achieve the Wolf standard, which in itself is in a state of constant improvement. The number and types of stages vary according to the size and type of project. Larger projects tend to have more stages and more stages equate to a longer design process.
The average house between 50-70 squares in size might have up to 8 stages and can take at least 8 months to obtain building permits, averaging roughly one month per stage of works. This however assumes all goes to plan on a relatively straight forward project. A WOLF project however is rarely straight forward as we strive to deliver premium products that are in keeping with our reputation for quality and innovation. Extensive interior and landscape design work together with stringent documentation and fine detailing all require additional stages of works that require even more time.
Furthermore our indicative time frames only considers our work and does not consider delays by the client whom we encourage to be intimately involved at all times with the process. Other consultants such as engineers, energy raters and building surveyors also have a tendency to extend time frames despite every effort being made to manage and coordinate efficiently. Finding the right builder and making sure they are available is a separate matter that can further extend things if not considered at the appropriate stage.
Town planning will also add to a projects complexity and time line. An additional period of at least 6 months should be allowed for with projects where basic town planning is required. More complex developments with more dwellings will generally take longer, and even longer still if we need to go to VCAT. Going to VCAT however should not be considered as a part of normal services and the practices normal policy is to work towards obtaining approvals without the need for VCAT.
Thus it may take at least a year from the moment an architect/client agreement is in place until we are ready to start construction. Larger or more complex designs with town planning can take anywhere from 15months onwards to gain approvals ready for construction. It is a long period which many people underestimate. Thus it is important to engage your architect as soon as you can.
Prior to contacting any architect, there are a few things that must be considered.
- Have you purchased land?
- Do you know how much you want to spend on the project?
- Are your finances in order?
- Are you ready to start?
These are common questions that should be satisfied prior to starting a project.
If you have read through the FAQs in this section and are still keen to progress, then we suggest you give us a call to discuss your project further. We will try to provide you with a rough fee estimate for our services. If those fees fall within your expectations the next step would be to book an appointment at our office to discuss things further.