ARCHITECTURE – the art of planning, designing, and realising the construction of buildings, structures, and built environments.

The appointment of an Architect is one that should not be taken lightly. Whether you are selecting an Architect to design and bring to life your family home, or selecting an Architect with whom you are looking to build a long-term commercial relationship to deliver on-going projects, the relationship between a client and their Architect is critical to any project’s success.

For Architecture to be successful, it provides an effective function, but beyond that it also creates an emotive response as one experiences the volumes and spaces created. For an Architect to accomplish this result, they need to understand the physical, emotional, and psychological characteristics of the end user. From a psychological perspective, an architect is trying to influence human behaviour with their professional knowledge to create a better outcome for the client. To do this, it is critical an architect understands the personality of their client, their potential and their limitations.

Selecting an Architect needs to be based on more than price, previous projects they have completed, or the successful delivery of a project to a colleague. The need for such a close working, and at times personal relationship, may determine that the two parties are not compatible. Both parties need to honestly express expectations from the outset, be honest about deliverables, and be prepared for some compromise for the relationship to be productive and successful.

It must be remembered by both parties that every project is unique, with its own constraints and opportunities, and influenced by the purpose of the project; owner-occupier, development, or long-term investment (refer to CBG news article “which property is right for you?”). What is undoubtedly true is that successful projects are built upon trust and collaboration.


Whilst the architect is there to provide a technical and professional service, it can only be achieved when a client has trust in their selected architect. To achieve this trust, your architect may challenge your ideas and conventions to better realise your aspirations, even though the final result may not be exactly as you first envisaged. Managing both expectations and outcome of a client in an understanding and reassuring manner translates to improved project outcomes.

It is important to understand that renovations and construction may be expensive and inconvenient. If you decide that this is not for you, make sure you find something that will suit your needs, requires little alterations with no major structural implications, and don’t apply substantial importance on resale value or capital expense. Home prices will always seem expensive at the time of purchase, but with no capital gains tax they will typically be the best investment anyone ever makes on resale, but it should not be considered or judged in this fashion.


The most successful projects tend to be those conceived and developed through effective collaboration between the architect and the client. It is important that both parties have input into the ideas, design, and approach, but also that both parties respect the role that each has within the relationship. A client needs to be heard with respect to brief and their desired outcome, while an architect needs to have a level of creative freedom in bringing these to reality.

Remember that as a client, you approach an architect to improve upon your initial requirements of a project, not simply to tick required boxes. Allowing an architect creative freedom unlocks the design potential to go from ordinary to extraordinary.

As architects we cherish the collaborative relationship we have with our clients, and the ability to design something that is amazing and sometimes unexpected. A clear understanding of each other’s roles and expectations will lead to a mutual understanding of the goals for the project, and result in a positive outcome that aligns with these expectations.


As Architects, we have an inherent responsibility to educate our clients not merely about design and construction, but also about our roles and responsibilities for a project to be delivered successfully. An honest, positive, and trusting relationship between a client and their Architect will relieve frustration, add value, and ensure an enjoyable experience.

Architects often incorrectly assume clients have an inherent knowledge and understanding of the design and construction process. This assumption may lead to otherwise avoidable misunderstandings and conflicts. We believe strongly in education and look to impart a greater knowledge onto our clients to enable greater understanding of the design and construction stages. Central to this is an understanding of the Architect’s role in delivering a successful project.

  • An Architect is a client’s consultant that provides a service to meet the expressed needs of a client. This service assists the client in securing a contractor who in turn delivers a product generally conforming to the design and its specifications.

  • An architect should clearly outline the stages of a project that are required and will be delivered. Clients should note that whilst retention of an architect for partial services is not uncommon, this will lead to compromised solutions that will need to be resolved during construction, often at greater time and cost.

  • Contractors are responsible for building a project, not the Architect. Remember that a client will have two contractual relationships; the first with the architect to design and coordinate the intent of the project, and the second with the builder or contractor to construct and deliver the project.

  • Construction Stage services (including Contract Administration) are intended to ensure general conformity with the construction documents and specifications for design only. Quality of work and supervision is inherently the responsibility of the contractor. Site visits and observations by the Architect are not intended to supervise the build or the builder, nor to uncover every minor defect.

  • Construction documents do not depict every element of the design, but are reflective of the design, sufficient to the level required by the contractor to build. A reasonable number of questions is therefore anticipated from a competent contractor, before and during construction.

  • Changes are likely to occur on a project, and as such a contingency sum should always be set aside by the client.

  • Architects are not Quantity Surveyors, or responsible for accurately estimating costs for materials, labour, or other project related expenses. Architects only provide approximate cost estimates intended as an approximate design guide, and not budgets or final contract prices.

  • An Architect’s performance is measured against the professional standard of care expected of a reasonably competent and experienced Architect, and not a subjective idea of expectation or perfection.

At this stage is it worth noting that whilst an architect is the client’s consultant and a representative on matters of design and coordination, they may also be engaged to act as the Contract Administrator for the construction contract between the client and the builder. In this instance, it is crucial that the client understands the difference of this role. As a contract administrator, an architect is responsible for overseeing the contract and making sure that both parties to the contract (client and builder) fulfil their obligations. In this capacity, the architect acts as an agent for the client to provide instructions to the contractor, but in their role as assessor, valuer, or certifier of any claims or works, the architect acts independently and not as the agent of the owner. The client must not compromise the architect’s independence in this role. If an architect is to administer a building contract, the client needs to understand this subtle but important differences in the architect’s role to avoid future disputes and misunderstandings.


Whilst a client employs an Architect to deliver a service, in most cases continued client involvement is critical to a successful outcome. For an Architect to deliver a design and ultimately a project that the client is happy with requires the client to understand what an architect requires from them.

  • A client should be clear on the scope of services being provided. If unsure, the client needs to express this so that the Architect can provide further clarification.

  • A clear direction with requirements and expectations should be conveyed to the Architect, including expectations regarding cost, quality, and time. These requirements and expectations may change during the process and any such changes should be clearly communicated to the Architect with the expectation that there may be time and cost implications. Any changes should be communicated as soon as possible.

  • A client should provide as much of the specific site parameters upfront to assist the architect to understand the site, it’s opportunities and it’s constraints.

  • Ensure that there is a clear understanding of each stage of the project and what is being presented. If unsure, a client should ask for further information to provide clarity before moving onto the next stage of the project. This may be in the form of samples, additional drawings, or some other format to assist the client making a decision.

  • Continued client involvement as an active participant will assist to facilitate a successful outcome. This involvement requires transparency when communicating expectations, and honest feedback on ideas presented.

  • A client should be open to new ideas and be flexible and realistic about limitations that may present themselves due to site, time, budget, or product constraints.

  • Total budget, not just construction budget needs to be considered and discussed. Often clients do not consider the cost of consultants, authority fees and applications, which may impact on what you can ultimately afford to pay for the construction. A realistic understanding and appreciation of a professionals worth needs to be integrated into a client’s expectations.

Ultimately, an architect’s role is to deliver a design that the client will be happy with. This requires the architect to truly understand a client’s motivations, requirements, and vision. In turn the client is required to be engaged, open and have a certain level of vulnerability. When the client – architect relationship is built on trust, collaboration and a strong understanding of each other’s responsibilities, it will then produce successful and unique projects.