Readers of this blog might know we have been planning on extending our house. Yes, we insist in taking our time paying our mortgage back.
In order to extend we have three possible courses of action. The first one is irrelevant: do a self building course and do the extension on our own; some people actually do it but we would like our house to stand for more than two minutes. The second is to employ the services of a builder, but there we will be compromised by our ignorance which would allow the builder to sell us whatever they want to sell us. The third option is meant to overcome that hurdle: employ an architect to design the work and then supervise the builders.
Being that an extension would cost us more than a yearly income, we've decided to go by the book and utilize that third option. Since we're not exactly mates with architects, we've decided to use the services of Archicentre - a company that offers an interface for liaising with hundreds of architects registered with them to perform all sorts of architecture jobs. We've actually used them quite successfully to inspect our house before we bought it, so we thought we'd give them a second go.
Alas, so far things didn't turn out well. As you can see in the complaint letter I've been drafting, we've received a rather lackluster service from Archicentre. When, eventually, they did manage to match us with an architect, that architect ran away the minute we've started questioning him. It appears architects suffer from the Prima Donna syndrome: they are so up with themselves they cannot think of anyone not taking their word and actually questioning them.
Anyway, here's an edited version of the draft letter I have so far. My recommendation? Choose an architect you know in person.
Re: Delivery issues with Home Design Consultation
We are currently investigating extending our home. In order to ensure we do as good a job as possible with our extension project we have decided to use Archicentre's services and conduct a Home Design Consultation. Based on Archicentre's literature, our understanding was that we would be matched with an architect familiar with the area we live in, the style of our house, and experienced in similar projects to ours.
Initially we were contacted by SM, our appointed Archicentre architect. Contact was made via a rather laconic email that told us SM is an architect and that he can only meet us during very specific business hour times. This contradicted our specified need to meet with the architect out of business ours, following Archicentre's own recommendation to conduct the consultation at a time in which all stakeholders are available.
We therefore contacted Archicentre again and asked for the architect to be replaced with one we can actually meet with.
We were then contacted by PW, the newly appointed architect, who met with us and delivered the documentation that comes with the consultation. However, while we were discussing PW's proposal for taking on the extension work with us, PW has notified us hat he is no longer able to attend to us as he was awarded with a large commission. He offered to provide us the contact numbers of alternate architects and suggested we look for architects in the Yellow Pages.
At this point in time we find ourselves extremely disappointed with the services provided to us through Archicentre. The primary reason for us contacting Archicentre in the first place was its promise to put us in touch with an architect matching our needs, yet Archicentre has so far been unable to achieve that. While we did get the documentation deliverables out of the Home Design Consultation, that documentation did not provide us with anything we did not know before and served mainly as the starting point for our connection with the architect. We certainly did not get in touch with Archicentre in order to end up looking for an architect in the phone book!
We therefore feel as if we did not get the promised value for money out of the hefty sum we paid for the Design Consultation and that we have wasted precious months with Archicentre. We would appreciate it if Archicentre gets its act together and actually delivers on its promises to put us in touch with a matching architect that is capable and actually willing to work with us on our extension project.