Should your architect oversee construction?

by Media Xpose

By Ulrich Pieterse

Images: UpStudio Architects & Urbantrend Group

Engaging the services of an architect to oversee your building project offers many advantages, spanning timelines, financial considerations, and, notably, the assurance of proper execution. This article delves into the reasons why paying your architect for overseeing construction is not just an investment, but a strategic imperative.

Ulrich Pieterse, Principal Architect and Founder of UpStudio Architects ( in Pretoria, shares some compelling reasons why readers should ensure their professional architect stays the distance during the construction project, to handover.

While a stunning architectural design is an initial triumph, entrusting your chosen contractor with sole oversight can jeopardize the realization of that design.

1. Preserving design intent

While a stunning architectural design is an initial triumph, entrusting your chosen contractor with sole oversight can jeopardize the realization of that design.

Instances abound where contractors took shortcuts on materials, misinterpreted design details, or made unilateral design changes without client consultation. Such instances not only compromise the aesthetic integrity of the original design but also result in unforeseen expenses to fix these design deviations.

By appointing an architect to oversee construction, the preservation of design intent becomes a safeguard against such pitfalls.

2. Reduced stress for clients  

Engaging an architect to oversee construction takes the burden off clients, providing them with confidence and peace of mind.

Knowing that a seasoned professional oversees day-to-day operations allows clients to focus on their broader objectives, sparing them from the stress of potential project mismanagement.

3. Contractor coordination

Architects can play a pivotal role in establishing and managing construction schedules, a critical consideration for projects with tight deadlines.

Apart from being able to help in selecting reputable contractors, architects can act as intermediaries, facilitating smooth communication between clients and contractors, managing client-contractor relationships effectively.

4. Seamless design & construction integration

Good architects are adept in both design and construction, bringing a natural continuity from the design phase to the construction phase of your project.

This seamless integration ensures the original design intent is realized and that any potential design changes are implemented effectively.

Tsikwalo Lodge Chapel (Dinokeng Game Reserve)

5. Cost & quality control

Architects with experience in project management are better equipped at controlling project costs. Their ability to make informed decisions during construction helps prevent cost overruns and minimizes change orders.

Architects prioritize the aesthetic and functional quality of the building, closely monitoring construction to uphold specified standards and preserve design intent.

Considering the importance of cost control, architects will usually recommend engaging a quantity surveyor. While the initial fees may concern any budget-conscious client, the synergy between a quantity surveyor and architect can yield substantial savings and protect against unethical builders’ fees.

6. Creative problem solving

Natural problem-solvers, architects can easily address unforeseen challenges during construction.

Their adaptability and ability to introduce innovative construction methods and materials contribute to keeping the project on track and within parameters.

7. Building code compliance

Well-versed in building codes and regulations, architects can ensure construction complies with relevant codes and regulations.

It is crucial to emphasize that not all architects possess the same level of project management experience. Therefore, selecting an architect with a proven track record in construction project management is imperative.

Additionally, understanding the specific responsibilities and scope of an architect’s involvement before project commencement is crucial for a successful collaboration, in my experience.

About the writer

Ulrich Pieterse is a South African architect and artist with a fundamental belief that good architecture can have a profound impact on human life and society. His firm was built on a passion for designing spaces that catalyze positive change in lives and businesses through use of intuitive architecture.

Following an award-winning tenure as a professional architect for a well-known South African architectural firm, he made the move to independence in 2019, establishing his new firm as an alternative to large corporate architecture firms, providing a more collaborative and personal experience with the emphasis on giving each client focus and exclusivity.

In his studies, he received the National Murray & Roberts Des Bakers Award, the Corobrik Architectural Student of The Year Award, and the Best Masters of Architecture Thesis Awardfrom the Tshwane University of Technology.

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