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Grand Designs Live – “Ask An Expert”

Today was the first day of Grand Designs Live 2016!

John at Ask An Expert Grand Designs

John at Ask An Expert Grand Designs

John from our practice is volunteering in the “Ask An Expert” hub representing Cityzen LLP and the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technology. The “Ask An Expert” hub offers the public free advice on architecture, construction, interior design, renewable technology, sustainability, or any other home renovation or new build query.

The show has grown over the years it is packed with great products based in 7 different zones covering interiors, technology, kitchens, bathrooms, gardens, and building methodologies- something for everyone!

Today’s queries to John followed the same pattern of previous years and it is something that concerns us and makes us reflect on the service we provide to our clients.

Almost every visitor comes to “Ask An Expert” with building design plans from an architect, architectural technologist, or other building designer. Why are they coming? To get an independent second opinion.

The visitor with building plans comes to “Ask An Expert” looking for the following:

1. Reassurance that the design solution is the “right one”
2. Help to enable them to back to their architect or designer to say they’re not happy with the design

This makes us realise that the client – designer relationship is a tricky one. Architects, architectural technologists, and other designers should always ensure the client is being well-served, but from today it is clear misunderstandings can occur. Our thoughts from speaking to people today.

Be clear on your goals

It’s your home, you need to think about what you want and do your part in communicating that clearly upfront.  For example before we even go to site we ask prospective clients to complete a questionnaire to ensure we understand what the aims and goals are in terms of family living not necessarily design solutions.

So, the “right design solution” might not be the solution you thought you needed, as your designer might see an alternative that would be better suited to the goals expressed in your brief. (Showing how important the brief and goals are).

Of course if you feel you’ve been misunderstood express yourself at the earliest opportunity, leave it later in the design process the more likely that you may incur re-design fees.

Be clear on what design you want to pay for

Design is always required, it is your choice who you get to do this- you could sketch something out for a builder, or you could pay a professional to develop your vision. So why were people expressing their disappointment in their professional’s “uninspiring designs” today?

If inspiring design is one of your goals be very clear about this- in writing.  Realise that the level of service is related to the level of fee. So, please be open and realistic with your designer and yourself about your funds / budget for construction and the design process.

Architectural design details, materials, and quality of finish can change the same space from “budget” to “top end”, be clear what you can afford.

Of course, if despite being clear on what you are looking for you still do not get what you want, (after checking the terms and conditions of your contract with your designer) give notice and find someone who is able to design your vision.

John enjoys volunteering at Grand Designs not only is helping people to make sense of the complex and exciting design process a lot of fun, but it’s also a good learning experience to get insight into other designer- client relationships.

Grand Designs was very busy today, here’s hoping for a busy Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.

Busy Ask An Expert Hub at Grand Designs

Busy Ask An Expert Hub at Grand Designs

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