Why use an Architect?
The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), give some reasons on their website (http://www.architecture.com.au/architecture/national/working-with-an-architect):
Architect-designed buildings are: highly sought-after, created environments, are more energy efficient, cheaper to operate and easier to maintain and adapt.
I think this understates it though.
I think the key is EMPATHY. When I design, I put myself in the building, I pretend to be the occupant. Then I look for inspiration - the second letter in L.I.F.E. Design. Good architecture does so much more than energy efficiency or sound investment - a well designed place brings us comfort after a long hard week at work. Or it will inspire us to enjoy Monday morning in the daylight-filled office space. Or it will turn the chore of cooking more food for the starving rug-rats into a time of joy and satisfaction.
My advice to anyone engaging an Architect is: Engage! Let your Architect know who you are - what brings you joy, what ticks you off, where do you find solace when you're upset, how do you celebrate... The more you share, the better the empathy - the better the outcome.
Getting your house custom-designed is a pretty big deal - I know, I've gone through the pain myself - but if you're going to do it, what joy it can bring when you do it right!
And if you're commissioning a building for business or government - let your architect get to know the people who will be using the building - they'll come up with solutions you couldn't even imagine if you give them the tools.
Aren't they expensive? Yes. But so is a good quality knife - but once you've used one, you won't want to use the cheap one again. Architect's are only expensive if you don't value the skill they bring and the benefits they provide. Something I'm trying to do with LIFE Design Consulting is to bring the Architectural design quality to people who wouldn't normally dream of using an architect, mostly by providing the service in affordable bite-size chunks - even a $200 consultation can bring you benefits.
Make an Architect your first port of call when you're thinking about building - you won't regret it.
I'd love to hear about your experiences with Architects - please leave a comment.