Many people who develop small projects can be easily frustrated at the seemingly exponentially increasing costs of building….well…..anything! Thankfully, we have been fortunate enough to to design many exciting projects across a broad spectrum of typologies, not all of which cost an arm and a leg to get built. It’s true that every project has a budget and there’s never enough money to do what everyone wants but over the years we have developed a sincere belief that good design creates value and then we do our very best to realise it:

We prioritise until it hurts: To develop exciting work within a reasonable budget, we have become adept at focusing on the fundamentals – space, order, siting, composition and material details and bringing a sense of realism in right at the start of the project. We distill the dream down into its very core and then use it as an anchor for every critical decision we make on the project. A bit of alchemy doesn’t hurt either!

We try to be Both the Bucket and the Baloon: Sure we go through the normal process of value engineering, cost cutting, scope change, that’s expensive, we can’t afford that – you’ve heard it before, blah, blah, blah. But we never let go of the dream and at the end of it all our Client’s appreciate our efforts to do it within their financial needs. On more than one occasion it has been mentioned that our ability to tell Clients what they need to hear rather than what they wanted to hear was fundamental in building trust and helped them to stay ‘grounded’.

We understand that no One Has an Open Cheque Book: All to often we are asked to develop projects without knowing the Client’s budget limitations. For some people it even seems to be embarrassing to admit that they don’t have an open cheque book. In comparison we recently completed a building project for an influential client located on a very big site with an extensive list of accommodation requirements. Thankfully, the Client was open and trusting enough to acknowledge a relatively limited budget at the start of the project which encouraged us to focus on what is essential to his project and then put in place a strategy to phase the rest of it for the future when funds become available. The Client could see that we were working in his best interests and felt that value for money was being achieved.

We think that Good Looks are Not Enough: We are always careful that architecture isn’t just coming along for the ride and that our buildings serve a purpose beyond fancy window dressing. Architecture has to contribute toward a positive user spirit, to make your business successful or to make the commercial operation more efficient.

We believe that Sustainability Starts at the First Discussion: Despite our best efforts to promote a sustainable agenda, incorporating active sustainable systems, advanced building envelopes and technologies that rise above the industry norms are rarely an option. Certifications or testing such as LEED, Energy Star or Passive House just don’t happen in our world yet. For us that’s not a problem – we need to be clever with what’s available, follow smart passive strategies and work for the best energy saving envelope we can afford. That doesn’t cost money, it just takes a little more thought.

We facilitate Negotiation: The best and richest businessmen know how to stretch a Rial. It is one theory of mine that this, is in fact, how they manage to stay rich. More often that not some hard negotiation needs to happen with the contractor so be prepared for it. As consultants we can do some of the leg work for you but ultimately you need to look the Contractor in the eye and tell him he is too expensive. Stretch a Rial, it’s what we do as small office practitioners – we still love it.

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