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A registered architect is the highest qualified person who can be utilised on a building project. Although, in the domestic building industry most homes are designed by building designers – most of whom are qualified to undertake the design of domestic structures, up to 1500m2 and three story commercial buildings. There are major differences between the functions of an architect versus the functions of a draftsman.

Enough time must be allowed for appointing and briefing an architect as it lays the foundation for the eventual success of the project. This serves to eliminate misunderstandings about principles between the client and the architect and sets the pattern for further co-operation between both parties.

The client’s initial task is to inform the architect of his requirements with respect to:

  • the size of the structure
  • how many individual units will make up the structure (e.g. bathrooms, bedrooms etc.)
  • the type of structure (timber frame, face brick, plaster)
  • additional features required (skylights, swimming pools, water features)
  • project budget


The architect interprets the initial brief - to identify and weigh all factors that will constitute the makeup of the structure. This would involve determining site restrictions, feasibility and practicality. The architect then reports his findings to the client by way of a concise document, which involves all aspects of the project as perceived by himself and his findings. This allows the client to decide whether the architect should proceed to the design of the project or to change the brief.


The first task in consultation with the client is to adjust and expand on the outline brief on the basis of the report and include any comments the client may have. A sketch design would then commence, laying out the brief in visual form. Continuity of presentation to the client is essential to avoid repetition and misunderstanding. Design, technical documentation and approval.

Upon acceptance of the sketch plan in theory, the client will then instruct the architect with a final design proposal. It may be found at this stage that the original brief differs greatly from the current brief due to concepts and ideas visualised during the planning process. Information that the architect imparts can greatly transpose the original brief to a more effective and artistic one.

A final specification must be agreed upon and thereafter only minor deviations should be entertained as cost estimates, programme feasibility and other factors may be jeopardised.

The architect will then crystallise the design in as much detail as possible. Any information that is necessary to achieve this objective is collected, analysed and collated. Specialised items such as electrical or mechanical installations, special windows or doors or other specialised components are obtained from specialist firms. This allows the architect to prepare an elemental estimate of costs, which is reconciled with original costs quoted. Drawings and other documents are prepared in accordance with the requirements of the relative authorities.

Results of the design work are then submitted to the client and include:

  • the form and appearance of the building
  • structural design of the building
  • standard finishes
  • expected performance of the building with respect to physical well-being, upkeep and durability
  • recommendations on tenders
  • elemental cost analysis
  • programme for the erection of the building.

Upon acceptance by the client, the documents are then submitted to the relevant Local Authority for approval.


It is essential that all the following tasks are fully documented and performed timeously. All instructions should be issued via the architect to the teams contracted to site, avoiding delays and unclear instructions, which can lead to claims and unpleasantness.

The architect, under the client’s instruction, calls for tenders. The method for obtaining tenders must meet the approval of the client. He must be made aware of the importance of finding a contractor whose organisation is suitable for the work.

On receipt of the tenders, the architect will evaluate their content and report his findings to the client, with his recommendations. He will then inform the successful tenderer on behalf of the client.

A legally binding contract is then signed between the contractor and the client, the contents of which are vetted by the architect. Involving himself in every step of the project allows the architect to monitor cost control and progress on behalf of his client. His tasks therefore follow the procedure below:

  • issuing tender documents
  • reporting on tenders received and making recommendations
  • preparing the contract documents for signing
  • preparing sub-contract documents and awarding sub- contracts
  • approving sub-contract drawings and samples
  • supervising the site regularly and preparing supervision reports
  • attending site meetings
  • monitoring the progress against the proposed construction programme
  • valuing work in progress
  • issuing interim certificates
  • issuing instructions and additional drawings where necessary
  • determining hand-over procedures
  • adjudicating claims by the contractor
  • arranging for the making good of defects after the retention period
  • preparing and issuing the final account

The project is wound up with the issue of final certificates, for payment by the client, as well as payment of the remaining professional fees.


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