architect Archives - Vancouver Architect

What is the job of an Architect? Is every Architect a Designer?

What is an architect’s job anyway? Is an architect a designer?

Like medical physicians, dentists, and lawyers, architects’ profession is to serve the public interest. Our job is to follow regulations and make sure to design the buildings in a safe manner that will not compromise the occupant’s well-being.

But wait a minute, is that the job description of an architect?

Many years ago, most of the world’s masterpieces were designed, coordinated, and constructed by one architect. The architects in charge had many apprentices to help them along the way. But along with technological advancement came the need for other professionals such as structural engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, geotechnical engineers, civil engineers, interior designers, building envelope consultants, building code consultants, building technologists, environmental consultants, landscape architects, and more. All of them have a role today in building design and construction.

In other words, a comprehensive team of consultants now have to go over the task of designing a building, the job that used to be done by one person. 

I want to remind you that once upon a time, architecture was a combination of technology, functionality, form, and art. Most people considered architects as technological artists. Architects were creators whose art was bound to last for hundreds of years. Unlike other artists whose art is passive, impossible to experience by all senses, architecture was a livable art to feel, experience, and flourish. 

Office design vancouver
Office Design Vancouver

So, IS every Architect a Designer?

The reality is that a good architect has to know all of the above. In order to be able to run a successful business, an architect has to master the logic of the mechanical system, heating and cooling, electrical, the building technology, and building envelope. Then come the zoning and building codes and the ways to keep the building safe from fire and water damage. Furthermore, an architect is also the manager. S/He has to run the team of office employees and HRs, possess the knowledge of marketing, and make sure the clients are happy and satisfied.

Really, Aryo, only that much? No, not even nearly. Then we have the skills to conduct the feasibility studies with the clients, making sure the end product is suitable for each client’s needs as well as the codes. The project has to fit the client’s budget yet to look as beautiful as possible. Does it meet the local market trend? The architect then has to make sure the municipalities will approve the documentation submitted. That involves a lot of communication.

An architect never stops learning. Learning about the general contractors and their expectations of management. Learning the software to design and prepare design development and working drawings, presenting, and above all running business management. Keeping up with education to fulfill the associations’ duties and fulfilling the annual learning units!

Oh, yes, and the architect should be the designer of the artistic looking buildings.

What Is the Problem?

The problem is that not too many architects are able to be an architect and a designer at the same time. What does that mean?

When our generations’ fresh minds leave university to enter professional life, they come across many hurdles. Each educational institution focuses on a different aspect of architecture. While some set the major goals on technological aspects, like construction challenges (what they now call a building technology), others prefer the artistic part of the work. 

When fellow students graduate from the faculty of architecture, they hear that, in order to call themselves “architects,” they need to register with the architectural institute of the country, province/state. 

That means they have to go through many hours of training and work in different architectural firms. They must gain a lot of experience and write many exams to make sure they meet the criteria to be able to practice “Architecture.” (similar procedure for immigrant architects) But there’s something many find out after getting registered.

After a couple of years of internship and passing the exams, they became a registered architect, yet learned how NOT TO DESIGN rather than becoming creative masters!

The building industry, unfortunately, is regulated by lawyers and left-sided brain people. It’s disregarding the artistic flair and beautification of the buildings for the purpose of bare function and safety. That’s why architecture becomes a commodity rather than a carrier. The architectural institute is a watchdog to ensure that a registered architect is the one who submits all building applications.

Most clients who want to build a house, a multifamily building, or a mixed-use building, approach the architect simply because the permitting authority obligates them. They aren’t looking to hire the architect’s creative mind but rather need someone to put the stamp on the drawing and get the building permit.

sunshine coast modern homes
Sunshine Coast Modern Homes

What Makes an Architect a Designer?

Architecture is part art and part science. As an art, it’s a channel for creative expression that affects the whole society. It allows them to change and improve their environment in many unique ways. As a science, architecture takes care of society’s functional needs, creates various living spaces, and covers different lifestyles by using modern technological advancements and techniques. 

An architect should be able to practice both functional and aesthetic approaches in building design. The limits are moving, and the architecture challenges are continually expanding. We get the chance to build new sorts of wonders day by day. Yet, the excessively complicated administrative procedure makes us sacrifice the aesthetics in the name of functionality. The bureaucracy preserves the status quo, slowly deleting the unique differences between artistry and engineering.

Instead of shaping the community, most architects obey dictations.

ElComalRestaurant
Retail Design Vancouver

The Solution

There is no cookie-cutter approach in architecture. Every single project should respond to a particular context. The design should be progressive and able to age well, and be flexible to adapt to changes. If architecture is only the building technology, then every single building existing would be architecture. But as it is, architecture is something different from building technology—just like artistry is different from engineering. 

Architecture is, above all, the realization of the concept, embodying an idea. It can grow from practical or metaphorical roots, from immediate needs, or the vision. Architecture, as we know it today, echoes the history of humanity. It tells the stories of society as it once was.

We need it to manifest the changes instead of being background.

Architects represent a force of society because architecture is an expression of its spiritual strength as well as technological progress. It’s a future display of society’s values, desires, ideals, ideology, and many other things at this particular point in time, serving as a time capsule of human history. 

Yet in today’s society, the treatment of architecture is almost exclusively shortsighted, following narrow terms of finance, cost, and return of investment. Politicians impose restraints and ever-growing rules about every single detail. That inevitably affects performance. It’s the road to the domination of uniform, ugly buildings that are not interpreted as any real threat to society.

If we better understood that issue, we might raise a more robust voice against it. If architecture’s significance for the psychological and mental health of society gets recognized, it might be treated accordingly. Then, instead of encouraging bad design, we might start promoting the benefits for the collective spirit. And that will make the architect a designer again.

The association which overlooks the building design community’s activity should watch the design quality as well as building code requirements!

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)

Where to Start a Renovation: With a Contractor or a Designer?

“Remember that free advice, no matter from whom it is received, will bear the closest of examination before it is acted upon as safe. And, generally speaking, this sort of advice is worth exactly what it costs.” -Napoleon Hill 

If you only knew how many times I have heard from my clients that they asked a builder to give them a quotation or even a ballpark price for a remodeling job. It would have been an extension by adding a floor above the existing house or spreading existing footage to the yard. Sometimes it’s converting their unfinished basement to a suite, or anything like that. What do you think, how many times the received estimation was even remotely right?

Renovation professional
Renovation professional

When it comes to the game of guestimation, everyone has something to say, and everybody wants to give you free advice. In many cases, just like Napoleon Hill said, free advice is worth just as much you paid for it. It’s a risky game with your hard-earned money as the investment. Asking a contractor to give you a guesstimate quote without a clue about your plan, is not a good idea. To start a renovation without any professional input is even worse.

Don’t Trust Anything That Can Think, Until You See From Where Its Knowledge Comes

The best way to get a precise estimation is to hire a professional designer or architect familiar with local construction costs and building codes. What you’ll get is a professional opinion based on real knowledge, which includes checking the zoning and possibilities and potentials of your property. Remember, the contractors build whatever you tell them to build, and they are trained to produce well—but not to design. It will cost you more money and possibly a lifetime of regret, too, if you don’t take the wise direction.

Every property, as well as owners’ needs and the situation, is unique. If your idea is to ask questions and get free advice from a couple of contractors, and then hire one of them, be sure that he will eventually hire a professional to help him out. That way means you are heading to a long process, probably more expensive in the final outcome. 

Burnaby architect
Burnaby architect

If you hire a professional, make sure it’s a building designer, a home designer, or an architect. Sometimes an experienced interior designer can do the job as well. Start by asking them to prepare a report. It should provide you with the possibilities and scenarios that your property has to offer, together with your options based on the budget available. That kind of service is called Low-Cost Consultation, and its price depends on the project, ranging between $500- $1500.

Why Start a Renovation With an Architect/ Designer?

To make a simple comparison: the architects’ duty is to create designs that contractors will implement. Architect’s scope of work is a combination of artistry and engineering. Many of them will offer a whole range of convenient services, like building permit drawings for custom homes or renovation, city follow-ups for permit application, rezoning and subdivisions, and more. After that, contractors come to the scene to carry out the hands-on work defined by the architect’s plan.

You know what you want and need. An architect/ Designer will take those ideas to turn them into a design that meets the requirements. Moreover, he will know how to improve them. In the whole process, he will find solutions that can cost more or less, depending on what you prefer. The scope of the project can be small or massive, and the prices can change accordingly. This is exactly the place where the former game of guestimation becomes obsolete. 

start a renovation company surrey
Renovation Company Surrey

An architect or building designer must ensure to deliver a project that will not only satisfy your needs but comply with all building codes as well. He/she should also secure the appropriate permits for the project. The job doesn’t end there, as they will work along with contractors to ensure that the design solutions will be implemented according to plan. That means, by hiring an architect/ designer, you will secure the consistency of the whole remodeling process, having the same responsible person supervising the delivery from start to finish.

In short, an architect/ designer will upgrade the work of your contractors with industry credibility and technical expertise.

In the next blog we discuss more detail about: When Should a Contractor Join to Start a Renovation Task?

Meanwhile you can learn more about your project planning in the following links:

Project Planning Pack   
Ask The Expert   
Our Dream Team Directory  

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)

Should I Remodel During Covid-19?

Many people think of renovating their homes as an opportunity to solve an immediate issue. Often it means adapting the space over the garage to get an extra room or adding a foyer to get a better entrance. Some people believe that a simple expansion of 500 sq. ft. to gain more space can make life easier. The truth is, to truly help the clients, we first have to listen carefully and find out what bothers them. Instead of focusing on the end solution the client has come up with, and try to resolve that, we rather go deep to the issues that they really want to solve. If our clients decide to remodel during Covid-19, we have a double responsibility to help them achieve the best results while avoiding any issues or inconveniences.

Can you imagine a patient who suffers from ear pain and has the doctor advise him to change the shoes? It makes more sense than it seems because a wrong shoe can affect your nerves which can, in return, affect your ear. Instead of giving the patient a pain killer to solve the immediate issue, the doctor actually investigates the issue and solves it from the source.

That’s exactly what we do with our clients. We look at the whole picture and help them unveil the best living and working space that matches their unique lifestyle. After all, we are all unique in our ways of living, so our lifestyle represents our unique personality and character. Our home should reflect our uniqueness and we must not be shy to express it. 

Consult us to talk about your lifestyle. Together, we can find out the best way to help you achieve a better version of yourself.

Objectives of Renovation

  1. Expecting newcomer in your life
  2. Envious of friends and neighbours
  3. Mental and physical health
  4. Bored with your existing house
  5. Status
  6. Adding value to the house
  7. Adding extra income 
  8. A family member moving in
  9. Seniorizing your house
  10. Selling your house
  11. Adding privacy and security in your house
  12. Making the house more sustainable and energy-efficient
  13. A need to open a home office within your house
  14. A wish to build a mancave 
  15. Rejuvenating your kitchen
  16. Buying a new house and wanting to customize it to your needs

We design houses for people who are ready to reward themselves, and that determines the three key categories of clients:

1. Couples with very young children (one partner is always in finance).

2. Couples with young teens that have outgrown their home.

3. Couples/singles whose kids are out of the house. They either deferred updating/expanding their house until they were through financing their kid’s education, or they are “downsizing.”

I help people to redesign their lifestyle by understanding their life and designing an ideal house for them according to their taste.

surrey modern architect
surrey modern architect

Remodel During Covid-19: Yes or No?

The world is in slow motion, and nothing seems certain. It’s undoubtedly hard to plan too far ahead. However, it’s still possible to get something good out of the situation, and that includes all the extra time on our hands. The ongoing circumstances that nobody wanted still bear an excellent opportunity to do something we seemingly never have enough time to do properly. For instance, few would consider going for a home remodel during Covid-19. Then again, perhaps they should rethink it. 

remodel during covid
New bathroom in the attic? Why not!

Naturally, the first question to arise is if dealing with such an enterprise is a good idea under current circumstances. The decision is not nearly insensible, as it might sound at first. Still, as with anything, there are both pros and cons.

Slow Times: A Chance for Proper Remodeling Plans

This stay-at-home period offers you a chance to devote to the entire project with higher attention to detail.

You probably have more than enough time now to plan or review the existing blueprint for every room carefully. Revisit the planned layout and double-check for loopholes, recalculate the cost breakdown of different aspects involved. Research new interior trends and discover some fresh ideas. Go slowly—if your existing plans and wishes have been based on any impulsive decisions, this is the moment to bust them.

The economy is, unfortunately, unstable at the moment. However, at the same time, the situation presents a chance to use the abundant offer of various sales. You may significantly lower your project’s cost or benefit from a more upscale purchase within the same projected budget. Suppose you had your eye on some fancy piece of furniture or a professional kitchen appliance. In that case, this might be your chance to finally get it.

House and money
Remodel during Covid-19 can save you money

Remodelling can be expensive, and discounts are welcome wherever possible. In other words, if there’s no significant obstacle insight, why turn a blind eye towards an attractive opportunity? 

It’s also easier to compare offers and prices when showrooms offer plenty of virtual tours. You can even use Zoom and similar platforms to hold a meeting with a designer or a contractor.

Covid-19 Interrupting Ongoing Renovation

In case your remodelling project had started before the pandemic, you have probably already acquired most of the resources and have the plans developed. Apart from the risk of running short of a specific material, this situation bears certain advantages. Unless another lockdown interrupts all plans again, you have no reason to doubt or look back. Even in case of a shortage, your order will be considered a priority in the chain of supply, compared to the ones just made. 

You might be surprised to learn that the home improvement industry is continuing to thrive in many parts of the world, despite the pandemic. Many countries list remodelling companies as essential services. That means they can continue to work even throughout some stages of the lockdown. Most companies are also adapting and continually innovating their business model to fit the circumstances and requirements. 

richmond kitchen designer
Richmond kitchen designer

Finding the right contractor in this period could prove more comfortable than you think. It’s logical to presume there were some cancellations. In the best case, you’ll end up with a remodelling company able to focus exclusively on your home. Also, few contractors will want to delay more than necessary, most likely they’ll work twice as hard to complete the work fast.

Hire an Architect

Even if your initial plan did not involve an architect, this might be a perfect time to hire one. Surely, renovation projects can be done without an architect in order to save money. However, in many cases, the final result turns out to be more costly. Without professional guidance and surveillance, it’s easy to go vastly over-budget and still end up with plenty of annoying failures. What seems trivial at the start, may later reveal just how much it affects daily life. 

Vancouver addition Project
Vancouver Addition Project

An architect does a lot more than coming up with a floor plan. Your architect is also your advocate within the industry. He can take many issues off your back to handle them with more convenience. Think reviewing payments with the contractor, control if the specified materials are actually being used, and supervise to ensure you get what you agreed on.

Most homeowners are not experienced enough to spot subtle differences between the cheap stuff and the natural materials they pay for. A contractor can be honest, but mistakes happen. That is one of the crucial points where paying an architect can actually save you money in the long run.

Renovation during COVID
Renovation

There’s a difference between a young professional freshly out of school and a licensed, experienced architect familiar with the industry pros and cons. In many cases, paperwork is crucial for a project’s success, and you need an architect well-versed in dealing with specific codes, regulations, and approvals from the city. Choosing to remodel during Covid-19 gives you a chance to get even a high-end architect, usually over busy and unavailable. 

Improve Air Circulation

The pandemic outburst made us all revisit our choices, including the relation to hygiene, health, and germs in our environment. While professionals have already been coming up with improved ways to ventilate public spaces, remodelling during Covid-19 presents an opportunity to do the same in your home. 

It goes without saying that the project of such a scale requires you to move out for a while. Depending on your location and circumstances, a pandemic may or may not be the best time for that. Hopefully, you can have a chance to change the environment a little and use providers like Airbnb for a home away from home. Apart from the fact that every change is welcome once in a while, you will also lower the health risks by staying away from the site. If you have hired an architect, he can take over the entire supervising job, and keep you involved remotely. 

Cons of Remodel During Covid-19

Depending on your location and current circumstances, you may have to pay additional costs for certain safety measures and building protection. Alternatively, you can search for a remodelling company that has it all included in the price. 

Your contractor will probably try to finish the task as soon as possible. However, it’s still possible to experience delays and interruptions due to the “higher force,” so arm yourself with an additional load of patience. It’s a wise move to also have at least 20% over the initial budget prepared for any unexpected issues.

burnaby Renovation, remodel during covid
Burnaby renovation

Although the home improvement industry is seemingly working fine, managing to keep all the popular stock items, there can always be exceptions. The items you have ordered may suddenly run short or go out of stock, so try always to have a Plan B at hand. It is also possible that products may suddenly become pricier, as higher demand can lead to a higher cost.

Don’t fall into the trap of impulsive decisions and spending too much at this stage. Considering the state of the economy, it’s safe to say that the future is somewhat unpredictable. Therefore it might not be a good idea to use your credit card or take a loan to finance your project.

So, Should You Remodel During Covid-19?

Pandemic has undoubtedly slowed down the life we know, but it hasn’t destroyed it. Worldwide, the governments and the people are fighting to keep it on and work towards containing and eventually eliminating the source of problems. 

The times are hard; however, there is still space for some profitable remodelling decisions as well. If you are able to deal with the cons, the benefits can be significant. With all precautions taken, if you have your budget sorted out, by all means, go ahead. 

By Aryo Falakrou (My Home Designer)

Renovation Next Steps (before submitting the permit application)

Renovation Next Steps (before submitting the permit application)

Permit Submission

The budget has been set, the questions have been asked and you have designs and blueprints ready to go. Now you have to submit your application to your local municipality (for the purpose of this article, we will be referring to the City of Vancouver).

To find all the checklists and application forms for the City of Vancouver, visit their website here. Remember, your Architect, Architectural Technologist or Designer, is there to help make sure you have all the documents you need to submit your Building Permit Application and to make sure they are filled out accurately and completely. (Best case scenario is have your designer apply as your agent, you have to print and sign this document and present the original signed copy along with rest of documents)

To help get you started, print off the checklist that the City of Vancouver has provided and then sit down with your Designer and go over the list.

Survey Engineer

Are you planning to add a deck or garage? Would you like to building a laneway house? Have you decided to extend the main floor of your house into your back yard?

The City requires a survey drawing provided by a certified land survey created within the last six months before you submit your application.

Home Energy Audit

What is a Home Energy Audit?

Are your utility bills running high in the winter time? Is your air-conditioning on, but it’s still warm inside your home during the summer? According to BC Hydro, “a home energy audit … is the first step to improving the overall efficiency of your home. An audit will help you identify ways to improve your home’s overall comfort and efficiency, which will save you money on your utility bills.” Your architect/ designer will help you to find a certified company. The EA company needs a copy of your blueprint so he can review and offer his/her recommendations.

The city will not the process without the EA report.

Do you need a Home Energy Audit?

According to the City of Vancouver’s website, you will need an audit if you are doing work over that is worth over $5,000 in renovations. If you are doing over $25,000 in renovations, you will need to add “air sealing” and if you are doing over $50,000 in renovations, you will need “air sealing” as well as “improve attic insulation”.

Did you know? You could qualify for a grant, rebate or other incentives. Check out bcenergycoach.ca for more information.

Arbourist report

Most municipalities have tree bylaws. This is to help protect species that are rare or endangered and to maintain a certain number of trees.

Depending on the type of renovation, trees will have to be protected and should be indicated on the blueprint provided by your designer. This should also include details of how the trees will be protected.

In some cases, a report by an arborist may need to be provided. In it will be details on the condition of all trees. Additionally, if the neighbour’s tree(s) is too close to the renovation area, it will need to be protected too.

Structure engineer

Are you planning to remove an existing wall or will engineered lumber be used during your renovation?

The City requires that a Structural Engineer will need to be hired for the project. The Structural Engineer should provide a Schedule B and proof of insurance.

Fill the building permit application form

When everything is ready, you need to download the building permit application form and submit it along with the all of your documents.

After all documents are ready, you need to download the building permit application form and submit it along with the rest of documents.

Remember, when you hire myhomedesigner.com we will take care of all the steps for you.

We act as your agent to help you to fill out the forms, hire the required engineers and contractors, and even line up at the permit counter at City Hall. We will take care of all necessary follow ups until your permit has been issued and is ready for pick up.

If you are applying for a building permit in another municipality within the Lower Mainland, please contact us and we will send you the links for your municipality.

City-Permit

City-Permit

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