What does an architect do?

An architect is someone who specialises in design, and is specifically trained and licenced to plan, design and manage the construction of structures for others to live in, work, eat, shop and worship. These structures can include homes, schools, office buildings, rooms and complexes that are for indoor, outdoor, public or private use. In addition to being in charge of the overall aesthetics, architects must also make sure these structures are safe, functional and economical. Additionally, architects are often involved in every phase of construction projects, from initial planning to project completion.

Architects use computer-aided design (CAD) tools and software, to create virtual 3D models and renderings to fully illustrate the design.  The same model is then upgraded and combined with building information modelling (BIM), to create construction drawings. They must ensure that these drawings follow ordinances such as zoning laws, building codes and fire regulations, and make sure that all structures are accessible for the handicapped.

An Architect can add value to various projects, from something as small as an addition to someone’s home, to something as large as an office building, college campus or an entire neighbourhood.  The role of the Architect is to bring together creative ideas and visions of the client and to keep in mind the needs of those that will be using the spaces.

The professional services of an architect is set out in a Framework for Professional Services Guideline of the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) (link to PDF document)  A brief description of the process is described below, with point by point explanations of what is involved in each stage.

Professional Services are provided in the following work stages:

1. Inception:

Receive the Client’s requirements, appraise and report back with regard to:

  • Clients Brief
  • Site information
  • Budget
  • Consultants required
  • Project Programme
  • Contract Methods
2. Concept Design:

Prepare an initial design and advise on:

  • Organisation and planning relationships between spaces
  • Proposed materials and intended building services
  • Technical and functional characteristics of the design
  • Confirm that the proposed design conforms to the site rights
  • Review project costs
  • Review project programme
3. Design Development:

Prepare the final design to include Site Plan, Floor Plans, Sections and Elevations and 2-4 Renderings to fully illustrate the design.  Also advise on:

  • Scope and complexity of the design
  • Review the design and consult with the local and statutory authorities
  • Develop the design, construction methods, materials and components
  • Incorporate and coordinate all services and other consultants
  • Review the design, costing and programme with the consultants
4. Documentation & Procurement
  • Municipal Documentation
  • Prepare documentation and submit to the Local Authority for approval.

    Municipal Documentation will include Site Plan, Floor Plans (including Electrical Plans), Ceiling Plans, Sections and Elevations.

    • Coordinate technical documentation with consultants
    • Determine finishes and prepare specifications
    • Review costing and programme with the consultants
    • Obtain Client’s authority and submit documents for approval
  • Construction Documentation:
  • Upgrade documentation to construction documentation and call for tenders.

    • Obtain clients authority to prepare documents for procurement
    • Prepare documentation for tender
    • Obtain tenders for construction
    • Evaluate tenders, recommend a contractor and award the building contract
    • Prepare and sign the contract documents
5. Construction:

Coordinate and manage construction project on your behalf

  • Administer the JBCC building contract
  • Issue construction documentation
  • Inspect the quality of the work
  • Administer the Principle Agent duties according to the JBCC Agreement
  • Issue and certify Practical Completion
6. Close out:
  • Issue certificate of final completion
  • Update “as-buillt” drawings and approve at the local authority
  • Obtain occupation certificate
  • Prepare “hand-over” file including occupation certificate, approved municipal plans, guarantees and manuals for equipment, specifications and colours of materials and finishes, etc.
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