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HOW TO OBTAIN  THE SERVICES OF AN ARCHITECT

WHO IS AN ARCHITECT?

An ARCHITECT is a qualified professional to assist you in translating your building requirements into practical reality. After five to seven years of university level education and practical training, an Architectural Graduate seeks registration with the Board of Architects (Lembaga Akitek Malaysia). Upon completion of the required practical experience and upon passing the LAM-PAM 3 Examination, a graduate Architect joins PAM as a Corporate member and then seeks registration as an Architect with LAM. A registered Architect is employed to seek planning and building approvals from the relevant authorities before a building project can be implemented. Architects practise in partnerships or on their own. No job is too small.

WHY USE AN ARCHITECT?

The Architect acts as your adviser and confidante regarding your building project. His first obligation is to look after your interest.

As a qualified expert in building and environmental design, the Architect maintains aclose relationship with the building industry. In his job, he coordinates the necessary engineering and environmental service to his design so as to achieve your objectives. With his knowledge about site analysis, building designs and complex regulations, he can clarify your requirements in respect of a project, study possible solutions and make a design proposal. Since the Architect is familiar with building construction in terms of what materials to use, what problems to look for on site and which contractors to go to, he can prepare probable costs and the construction programme in respect of any proposal he puts forward to you. In this respect, he is acting as your adviser.

The Architect acts as your agent when he submits drawings to the local authorities on your behalf for planning and building approvals. He continues as your agent when calling for and awarding tenders, contract administration and in helping to obtain Certificate of Fitness for Occupation.

In administering the Building Contract on your behalf, he will still act as your agent but will do so impartially and with fairness to you and the Contractor. He will still continue to advise you on your rights and responsibilities with respect to the Contractor.

HOW TO CHOOSE AN ARCHITECT?

You should seek the services of an Architect with the right technical skills and experience for your particular job. Equally important, he or she must be one whom you can get on with at a personal level.

This selection deserves time and effort from you - start by asking others to recommend an Architect from their own experience or if there is a building similar to your project which you like, find out the name of its Architect.

After you have determined the firms that are interested to discuss your project, you might interview them to evaluate their attitudes and reactions to you, your project and their abilities and experience. You can request to see photos and drawings of projects similar to yours and find out the clients' names so you can take up references. You can enquire about his designs and philosophy in approaching your project.

PAYING YOUR ARCHITECT

Discuss and confirm your fee commitments at the outset. Fees are a percentage of the building cost for the normal service. The minimum scale of fees that your Architect may charge is laid down by LAM and is based on many years of experience of the input required for projects of varying scope and complexity. It is not in your interest to seek to reduce this fee as it can only result in reduced service to the detriment of your project.

For more information and details on FEES and SCOPE OF SERVICES you are well advised to consult the pamphlet "Architects (Scale of Minimum Fees) Rules 1986" available from PAM. This pamphlet spells out that the fees for "basic architectural service" are based on the value of the project with a reducing scale as the building cost increases. The scale stipulates the minimum fee that an Architect may charge in order to be able to provide a proper service. An Architect with special experience or expertise may charge more than this minimum by prior agreement with his client. For services additional to the basic "basic architectural service" fees will be charged either on a time basis or as an agreed lump sum.

THE BUILDING PROCESS

The sequences set out below are the normal process which should ensure a high efficiency of design and building with maximum competition for the construction work.

If speed is vital, your architect will suggest an accelerated process in which the builder or contractor is appointed before all the detail drawings are completed.

       1.    Inception and Feasibility

At this stage you will have decided to build, and having worked out your initial Design Brief, make sure that the finance is available and appoint an architect. In a commercial organisation, you will need to make sure that only one person has the responsibility for liaison with the Architect.

The Architect could also help you develop your Design Brief that he or she will use as the basis for initial design investigation. If the project is feasible, a detailed survey of the site or existing buildings may be required before design work proceeds further.

Depending on the scale and nature of the project, the Architect may suggest that you also appoint structural, services engineers, and a quantity surveyor whose fees are supplemental.

       2.    Outline Proposals and Sketch Design of Schematics

You will now begin to see how your building will look like. From a sketch design prepared for your approval, the design will be developed so that approximate estimates of costs can be worked out and planning permission applied for. Planning permission is sometimes known as Development Order in certain local authorities.

       3.    Design Development and Production Information

The design, no longer to be changed without causing delays, is now developed in great detail. Specifications (a document that meticulously describes the standards to which the building must be built and the materials to be used) and working drawings for the builder are prepared incorporating details of structure, lighting, air conditioning and other mechanical services. At this stage, Building Plans approvals will be sought with other miscellaneous approvals from the authorities.

       4.    Tender Documentation and Tender Action

A shortlist of suitable builders will be drawn up with your approval. Detailed measurements of all elements in the proposed building are prepared by the quantity surveyor if one is appointed. The builders will be invited to cost these to enable them to submit a tender.

The tender will be evaluated and recommendations will be made to yourself for decision to award. A contract between you and the builder can be signed. From here on, the Architect will not only be looking after your interest but also making sure that the contract is fairly administered.

        5.    Project Planning, Operations on Site Completion

While the builder works out his programme and gets ready to start, you will need to ensure that the site is ready for possession. Your Architect will advise you on insurances, signing the contract and other day to day matters. At stages, the Architect will certify stage payments for the builder based on the work completed on site. You as his employer, are then required to honour these payments to the builder.

On completion of building works, the Architect will make sure that you understand how the building works with assistance of as built drawings and equipment operating manuals. Any defects are put right after an agreed period and then the final accounts settled.

Source: PAM

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