A) What are the 5 reasons that one needs the services of an architect
when constructing his/house?
1. Achieving aesthetic appeal. The architect helps the house owner to achieve their personal aesthetic appeal that brings out the house owner’s taste and style. Just like the clothes we wear, no 2 people can exactly like the same style and fashion. The same happens to houses. No 2 people can exactly be attracted to the same style and design of a house. People tend to be attracted to particular styles depending on their socialisation.
For example, in Kenya, Europeans tend to be attracted to African style of houses eg the Allan Donovan house in Kitengela.
Africans in Kenya tend to be attracted to European style of houses eg Tafaria castle in Nyahururu
2. Cost control.
Architects assist the house owner to achieve cost control depending on their budget. House owners in high end areas such as Runda tend to construct using the most expensive materials and labour available in the market. To achieve this, the architect listens to them then advices them on the budget for high end homes. It would be a very big disaster for a house owner in Runda to end up with a house looking like the ones found in Kayole and Mathare north. Without proper consulting from the architect, the Runda house owner risks ending up with such.
Likewise, for the land owner wanting to construct in Kayole, without proper advise by the architect on budget, they might end up constructing Runda like quality which will end up to be too expensive hence a loss since the rent returns in such areas is low.
Architects are gazetted by law to sign on drawings to be approved by the County Government. Once an architect signs on the drawing, the Government is satisfied that the house has been designed to a safe and secure standard for human habitation.
Architects also inform the house owner of services rendered by other consultants such as civil and structural engineers, quantity surveyors and services engineers.
The Haiti earthquake that killed over 100,000 people was blamed partly to lack of professionalism and poor Government approval of buildings hence unsafe buildings coming up.
The few buildings that have recently collapsed in Kenya are all due to the house owners not involving architects in the supervision of the building construction.
4. Return on Investment.
In buildings that are constructed as a business, for rent or sale, Architects assist the developers to carry out feasibility studies that ensure that whatever type of building is put up will return the investment that the developer has put in. For example, if the land is located in a high end area, the target market is the high class who prefer a particular size, colour etc. and if the land is located in a middle or low class area, customers being targeted from these classes also have their specific preferences. The architect then designs buildings that full-fill the preferences of the particular class.
5.Research into new methods and trends in the construction industry.
Due to their unique position whereby architects are always dealing with various international clients in the building industry, they tend to accumulate knowledge within the building industry . Such knowledge, e.g. new , better, cheaper building materials e.g. prefabricated panels, automated doors and windows help the house owner to achieve a better house. New design trends such as american style kitchens, duplex houses, attic roofs also assist the house owner achieve maximum space utility and rental returns on their building.
B) What are the likely consequences of failure to secure the services
of an architect?
Low returns on investment.
Most of the stalled buildings dotting the Kenyan landscape are owned by developers who did not seek the architect’s services. This resulted in them underestimating the cost of construction hence the building stalls before completion.
Also, due to lack of following the due process for County Government approval, some houses are stalled because the County Government has issued an order to stop construction. This happens whereby the houses are near security-sensitive buildings such as the State House, Deputy President’s official residence, Department of Defence Barracks, Airports etc.. For a developer to know this, the building has to be designed by the architect and submitted for approval whereby the Government then informs the developer of such restrictions. Areas such as Ruai, Utawala and Syokimau have such restrictions due to proximity to JKIA Airport.
Developers who fail to involve architects in design also risk the building collapsing . This results in both criminal and civil suits charged at them for negligence.
Francis Gichuhi Kamau, Architect.