Why the Right Commercial Architect Saves Time, Money, and Stress.

Simon Kaufman Architects is an RIBA residential and commercial architect based in Barnet, North London. We work with a wide range of clients with building developments in Barnet,  Enfield and throughout Hertfordshire, as well as in many London boroughs including Haringey, Camden,  Brent, Islington, Hackney, Harrow, and Westminster.

Although we're delighted to meet every new client, we've noticed a concerning trend in how many are now reaching out to us.

And the reason is neatly introduced in a quote by a famous Victorian Architectural Criticquote:

"It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better."   John Ruskin

Solutions for Commercial Architectural Problems

We are now regularly engaged to rescue projects and to troubleshoot issues caused by clients receiving the wrong or incomplete professional advice. Although there can be many reasons, this largely comes down to attempts to cut costs which, as John Ruskin warned, ends up costing more.

Trying to reduce costs means that developers cut corners and may not invest the time needed to assess the capabilities of those providing professional advice. In some cases, clients may attempt to do-it-themselves while not appreciating the complexities involved in what many appear simple planning processes.

In our experience, although the initial cost of hiring an expert commercial architect from the outset might seem like an additional expense, it will almost certainly save significant amount of money, time, and stress in the long run.

The High Cost of Cutting Corners: An Example

Recently, our firm was approached by a client who had tried to save money by using a structural engineer to design a new office spaceblock of residential apartments. The engineer had assured the client that they could do the job but, while qualified in their field, they simple lacked the architectural expertise and regulatory knowledge to be able to translate the client's vision into a viable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing space.

The result? The engineer's design, while structurally sound, fell short in several key areas:

• The layout failed to meet new fire regulations regarding means of escape from the flats or allow for adequate insulation in the walls to meet new energy performance targets, which meant the design as it was drawn was not deliverable as it did not comply with current building regulations.  

• The internal floorplans were inefficient and did not meet current accessibility requirements or spatial standards. Ultimately the apartments would have to be redesigned before the building could be completed, 

•  The design failed to critically evaluate, or coordinate with the requirements of other trades, such as the mechanical and ventilation services, or the façade materials, which would have ended up costing tens if not hundreds of thousands of pounds in construction costs unnecessarily.

• During the preparation of the planning application, the engineer admitted they could not create the contextual townscape and design drawings to convince the Local Authority of the quality of the proposal. 

Of course, we all have ideas of how housing and offices should be, we live in houses or flats and many of us still work in offices. But to understand how to create great homes and workplaces that have great spaces that comply with the many complex regulations, are cost effective for the location and type, and are buildable with durable robust construction details and the right materials – takes years of experience. 

Unfortunately, in this case, by the time Simon Kaufman Architects was brought in, the client had invested a significant amount of time and money in the failed design. Unfortunately, the cost of rectifying the issues was far, far greater than it would have been to involve us from the beginning. We had to essentially start over, salvaging what we could from the engineer's work while creating a new design that met the client's needs and complied with regulations.

Why a Qualified Commercial Architect is Essential

A qualified, experienced commercial architect brings a broad skillset to the table, encompassing:

  • Vision & Design Expertise: We translate your vision into a functional and aesthetically pleasing space.
  • National Building Regulation and  Local Planning Policy Knowledge: We ensure your project adheres to all relevant r building regulations and policies (Barnet in this case), [SK7] saving you time and money during the planning process.
  • Project Management Skills: We manage the entire project lifecycle, overseeing everything from initial design to construction completion. This streamlined approach reduces risk stress [SK8] and ensures timely delivery.
  • Cost Control: Our experience of delivering buildings to controlled budgets enables us to critically evaluate design choices to ensure clients don't over-pay.

At Simon Kaufman Architects we offer a wide range of services to help clients with their building projects, from the initial stages of site selection and planning to the final design and construction.

  • Land acquisition and development planning: We can assist clients in finding and acquiring[SK10]  suitable land for projects. We can also help with development planning, which includes zoning planning policy analysis, feasibility studies, and site master planning. Helping to create a vision of what can be achieved with a site.
  • Concept design and pre-construction services: Once a site has been selected, commercial architects can develop a concept design that meets the client's needs and budget. We can also provide pre-construction services, such as cost estimating and value engineering[SK11] .
  • Building design and permitting: Commercial architects are responsible for creating the architectural drawings and take responsibility for the technical construction specifications for a building project. They also work with clients to obtain the necessary building permits and discharge planning conditions  from local authorities.
    At Simon Kaufman Architects Planning Applications are our speciality - we understand what is required to communicate a design and coordinate an application with the local authority and have a superb track record of successful applications.
  • Construction administration and post-construction services: We can provide construction administration services to help clients manage contractors ,contractors, which include and  overseeing the construction process and to manage any changes and to ensuring ensure that the project is built according to quality required in the plans and specifications. We can also provide post-construction services, such as warranty inspections and punch list completion.

In addition to these services, we can also provide advice on a variety of other specialised specialist topics services, such as sustainable sustainability and low energy design, historic preservation, and or interiors.

Investing in the Right Commercial Architect: A Wise Decision

So, while the initial cost of hiring a commercial architect may seem like an added expense, it really is an investment in the success of your project. An experienced architect's wide range of skills and experience will:

  • Save you Money: We ensure your project is designed right the first time, avoiding costly rework and delays.
  • Save you Time: We streamline the planning and construction process, keeping your project on schedule.
  • Reduce Stress: We handle all the complexities, allowing you to focus on your business.

Choosing a Residential and Commercial Architect in Barnet

We would of course be delighted to hear from you, but here are some general tips for choosing the right architect:

  • Look for RIBA Chartered Architects: Ensure your chosen architect is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). This guarantees they meet the highest professional standards. You can read more about Simon Kaufman Architects on the RIBA website here. https://find-an-architect.architecture.com/simon-kaufman-architects/barnet
  • Experience in Your Sector: Select an architect with a proven track record in designing commercial spaces similar to yours.
  • Project Portfolio Review: Review the architect's portfolio to assess their design aesthetic – the quality of their planning and architectural drawings – and ability to deliver projects which match your needs.
  • Clear Communication: Choose an architect who is easy to communicate with and understands your needs and goals.

By partnering with a qualified and experienced commercial architect in Barnet such as Simon Kaufman Architects from the outset of your project, you can ensure an outcome that meets your budget, timeline, and vision. ; Without wasting time and or making expensive mistakes .