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Level 5 Restriction Site Visit Procedures Winter 2020

We have been working on the basis that construction and development services are currently considered essential under the government guidance on the public health restrictions. While architecture fits properly in this category; it doesn’t seem right to continue this service as usual; because our work often includes long periods of interpersonal contact, so we have taken care to maintain social distancing throughout all interactions.  https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/c9158-essential-services/#construction-and-development Options for Distancing We have continued to consider different ways of ensuring safety, leading to a few different formats for our visits to sites and individual properties. These are summarised below. These primarily relate to buildings which are currently lived-in, visits to vacant buildings should...

Fully Socially Distanced Site Visit Procedure for Initial Consultations

In response to renewed Covid19 restrictions, we have developed a procedure for initial consultation site visits with no interpersonal contact.

DKAD Covid19 Procedure for Initial Consultation Service, Design Meetings and Meetings at Clients’ Homes

Covid19 and Social Distancing Procedures for Initial Consultation Service In response to the COVID 19 pandemic, we have adopted the following procedure for the initial consultation phase. Initial consultations are conducted outside our offices, in environments which we do not control, have not previously visited and cannot assess for safety concerns. They include interactions with the public and often require long periods of interpersonal contact. Worst Case for DKAD Work Practices This is the part of our business which presents most risk of transmission of Covid19 and we have used this worst case scenario to establish procedures for implementing Irish Government official guidance in our work. This document is also relevant...

The Right Advice at the Right Time- Positive Feedback from A Client for our Initial Consultation Service

Over the last couple of years, escalating construction costs and intense competition among house buyers have created a situation where architects’ feasibility assessments have become an essential service for anyone buying a home in need of renovation.  “Hi Diarmuid, I am emailing to say a big thank you for your advice last month in relation to a house we were in the process of buying in ******** and for earlier guidance also. You initially came and looked at a fixer-upper with us on ********* ***** in Dublin and based on our consultation with you, we got sense and thankfully didn’t bid very high and didn’t get it.   But then...

Picture of newspaper article showing mast head, headline and part of article

Thanks to the RIAI for publishing our guide to designing and buying a new kitchen for your home, seen here in last week’s Sunday Independent

Delighted to share this advice on kitchen design and procurement in last week’s Sunday Independent, thanks to the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.  “A beautifully designed kitchen can transform the functionality of your living space and add a central sculptural element to the heart of your home. To truly enjoy your home renovation process, it’s essential to embrace the possibilities for avantgarde design and exciting materials and finishes which only the kitchen can afford. But before you get carried away remember; kitchen fitting is usually the single biggest expense, and quality varies wildly.   Value can be hard to achieve as suppliers sometimes make quality, price, and the...

Can I Extend and Renovate my “Fixer Upper” for €100,000? A First Time Buyer’s Renovation Budget Explained

In 2013, €100,000 was like a king’s ransom to most businesses in the Irish construction industry. Now clients approach us with budgets at this level and are shocked when we tell them how little can be achieved with such a large sum of money. We have decided to tackle this issue with a clear worked example. In 2018, rates for some types of construction have increased 50% since the recession, client expectations have increased, there is a shortage of competent construction workers, and subcontractors are now more accountable for quality. These pressures have inflated the many expenses which make up a typical renovation budget. Even the most seasoned commercial clients...

Why are Architectural Fees for “Tiny” Projects Prohibitively High?

We recently received a Quotation Request Form from a new client, relating to a really small front porch for their home. With really small projects, the architectural fees are often disproportionate in relation to the construction budget, so they often proceed without proper design input from an architect. This issue comes up frequently in our practice, so we decided to explain it in full.  The main problem is that many of our architectural services tasks are exactly the same no matter what the scale of building work, so certain parts of the fee make sense on larger projects, but are prohibitively high on smaller ones. For example, two clients can...

Various Forms Used During the Construction Process

Correct Flow of Information During Construction

The roles of all the parties working on the project are clearly defined in the building contract, and in the various agreements between the client and their advisers. These contracts map out our liability and responsibility in the construction process in fairly strict legal terms. For this reason, communication must follow a predefined format which respects the legal definitions of the parties’ roles and responsibilities. Retaining information and records of communications is critical. There can be unforeseen cost and liability issues for anyone involved in a building contract if records are lost, or people don’t know what they’re supposed to know, when they need to know it. It’s very important...

A Typical Site Inspection

What Does the Architect Do During Construction? Construction Stage Services FAQ

First – time clients are often confused about what we architects do during construction. Architects do not direct day to day building works, manage site operations, deal with subcontractors, or organise the schedule of when works will physically happen; so how do we keep things on track?  Check out our “design team” articles.  The architect’s primary legal role is to administer the building contract between the client and builder impartially. In short this means: “instructing” the builder about what should be done, and “inspecting” work that has been done. This is the basis for all the other duties we have on building projects. We typically visit the site every 1-3 weeks...

It’s Time to Focus on The Customer Experience of Home Renovation

Our new assessment process for selecting building contractors should reward the companies who can provide a great service to our clients, and our accompanying articles discuss the standards that are now required from our colleagues in construction. We have also detailed the easiest and most efficient ways we’ve seen for builders to help us improve the customer experience.  Creating a Seamless Professional Service As architects, we are responsible for smoothing out our clients’ experience of procuring building work but despite our efforts, not every project runs smoothly. The construction industry was broken for nearly a decade after 2008, and looks set for a another decade of momentous, continuous change. Customer...

Choosing a Building Contractor- Your 30 Point Checklist for a Positive Customer Experience

We put a lot of work into improving our clients’ experience of the design and construction process, and the choice of main contractor is by far the biggest factor in creating an enjoyable and stress free build. Building contractors are great people with incredibly broad skills, but their attitude to customer service is very different to other businesses. Our best advice to clients is explained in full below: Design Your Own Experience Most Builders Don’t Really Think about Customer Service As  A Process Essentials and Optional Extras Adjust Your Expectations or Increase Your Professional Services Budget Analyse the Builder’s Set-up and Define Service Expectations Early Have Faith in the Building...

Choosing a Builder 6- Setup and Accreditation

This post is part of a series of 6 listing 30 checks to consider when selecting a building contractor.  Contractors are not regulated in any meaningful way, despite the creation of an official register in recent years. Their skills and competences vary widely. There are several points when they may be required to produce official documents, such as when you need their help to make applications for state grant assistance. However it’s possible for builders to operate for many years without ever being required to have proof of insurance or tax clearance. When working with very small scale contractors, you may experience some difficulty obtaining the following.  Consider what level...

Choosing Your Builder 5- Achieving Quality

This post is part of a series of 6 listing 30 checks to consider when selecting a building contractor.  Quality is largely influenced by the design, budget and the content and structure of the contract documents. The abilities and resources of the main contractor have an obvious role in translating the potential of the project into a complete building.      Consider what level your contractor will deliver under each of these headings, and consider with your architect how that will affect your experience of the construction process. Contractor Service Levels- Pressure Points for Customer Experience  Low- description of contractor services at lowest merchantable standard Medium – description of services...

Choosing Your Builder 4- Resources for Getting the Job Done

This post is part of a series of 6 listing 30 checks to consider when selecting a building contractor.  At time of writing, Summer 2017, the building industry is currently experiencing a labour shortage. Most main building contractors have few direct employees, with most skilled work being undertaken by subcontractors with their own resources. While this is ultimately a more expensive and less profitable way to procure labour and resources, main contractors can undertake relatively large projects with surprisingly little equipment and staff of their own. Physical equipment and resources are easy to rent on a “pay as you go” basis, and are not barriers to successful completion of projects....

Choosing Your Builder 3- Resources for Customer Service

This post is part of a series of 6 listing 30 checks to consider when selecting a building contractor.  Most small building contractors can deliver a domestic works or small commercial project without needing an office, support staff, or even a desk. However additional resources have a big impact on the employer’s experience and perception of the service they receive.   Consider what level your contractor will deliver under each of these headings, and discuss with your architect how that will affect your experience of the construction process. Contractor Service Levels- Pressure Points for Customer Experience  Low- description of contractor services at lowest merchantable standard Medium – description of services...

Choosing Your Builder 1- Essential Intangible Qualities

This post is part of a series of 6 listing 30 checks to consider when selecting a building contractor.  Every building project involves a number of massive financial transactions. For all clients the stakes are incredibly high, and for many construction is a new experience. In this context successful builders with established reputations and good careers are defined by strong personal character, communication skills and honesty. In my experience as an architect, good main contractors for domestic renovations are some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They have excellent interpersonal skills, are natural leaders and incredibly trustworthy. This isn’t surprising, because with so much...

File Naming Convention Diagram

Understanding Construction File Naming Codes on DKAD Drawings

This page contains tables to explain the codes on our drawings. Our drawings use a recognised standard for file naming, based on the British Standards for construction information, which have been largely adopted by the RIAI in Ireland. Follow this link to BIM Toolbox for the most up to date version of the conventions.  Our drawing title blocks, and file share locations use systems of codes to quickly identify files based on these 10 parameters: Project Number- there should be a standard number for the project used by all companies.  Originator– the person or company who created the file. Our originator code is “DKAD” System or Volume– the building number (for...

8 Reasons why you can no longer build a house without professional services.

8 Reasons why you can no longer build a house without professional services.

A new client recently asked if it was possible just to hire an architect for design and planning permission stages, and then to self- build with no further professional services. We thought it was worth posting our response to this very common question.   In short, the answer is technically yes, there’s nothing legally stopping you, but in practice it no longer works. There are just too many other parties in the process who will require you to have an architect. Not having an architect when you need one could (indirectly) prevent your build being: properly financed, legally certified, or even being added to the register of compliant buildings. Tradition of...

Paperwork for use onsite must be quick, concise and effective

10 Cheap and Easy Things a Small Builder Can Do for a Better Customer Experience

There are three tiers of building contractors at the SME scale and what separates them is not their knowledge of building technology or project management, but the customer experience they deliver.   I have met a lot of small scale builders with incredible integrity and technical skills who, unfortunately, leave clients with a negative impression, even when their buildings have been completed successfully. I have written this article to share ten easy, low cost changes which I have seen create a big positive impression on our clients. I hope this information will help smaller builders win better work and ultimately provide a better, less stressful experience for their customers.  ...

10 Easy Steps for a Fantastic Home Renovation Experience

It’s possible that these simple measures could add 15%- 20% to the construction budget, but they have the potential to enhance your experience of the process, and effectively eliminate all the common stress pressure points experienced by our clients. If you want to improve your home, but are worried by that it will be a stressful process, follow these steps.  We are currently working on a number of articles about the negative “customer experience” of homeowners working with builders. The main reason so  many people have negative experiences of home renovation is largely financial; when your budget is tight, you are forced to balance the cost of professional services (which...

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