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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 8 – UNIQUE SMALL STRUCTURES OR BORING STORAGE SHEDS?

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It didn’t take me long to fall back in love with our design, the simplicity of the structures and the way they flow together on the site is exactly what we wanted, I just needed a little push to fully commit. All along we have crafted the design to maintain the character and qualities of a bach, embracing the look of being ‘hand-made’. Now that we have committed to a design, I feel I want to take this notion a step further, not hiding behind gib stopping and painting. Instead I want to see how two surfaces come together, I want it to be clear how our bach is physically joined. However, as I am well aware, there is a very subtle difference between an unfinished appearance and a considered design decision. The refinement and execution of details is the critical element that will prevent our bach looking like incomplete pre-fab garages. Before we can engage a technician to start drafting, I want to work through some of the finer details myself to help lessen the need for my input later in the documentation phase and ensure all our considered design decisions end up in the construction documents.

My day-to-day job as an Architect is usually filled with client meetings, general management tasks and working at the creative end of design and so it is very rare for me to have the opportunity to work through technical drawings. And, as I begin to work through the critical details, I really enjoy it. By putting pen to paper (the old-fashioned way!) and seeing how the surfaces and materials could come together and connect with each other, I feel like we are on the right track, progress is being made and we have a final design. The disconcerting visions I have of storage sheds sitting in a paddock are replaced by interesting, perfectly formed small structures with careful and unique detailing. We are in a good place, happy and content and ready to move forward into the documentation phase.

We make the decision that Ange’s brother Neville will do the drawings for us – he works as an architectural technician at CAA, and we figure he’ll get plenty of opportunities to enjoy the bach, so it just makes sense! As Neville starts to toil away, we begin to comprehend just how little time there is, outside of office hours, for Neville to work on the bach. With family, friends, and other social commitments; evenings and weekends are already full and the timeframe we originally set forth quickly slips away. Looking over the initial timeline, I reflect on my eagerness to get the ball rolling and how this has affected the practicality of the timeframes. After all, we chose Neville for the quality of his work (not just because he is related!) and we know exceptional documentation takes time. Implementing a revised timeframe, we focus on the critical elements of the design and, with a little extra time up our sleeves, examine all key decisions made thus far and begin to contemplate changes…

It isn’t until the documentation is practically complete and ready to go out for pricing that we make the decision to increase the amount of pre-fabricated elements. The entire folly, all roofs and floors will now be pre-fab. This means re-drafting, more time, and more money. Although the decision does mean some elements will now be more expensive, the changes will speed up construction – snatching back some of the time we lose through needing to completely rework the documentation. Adding more pre-fabricated elements however, does mean we must move the construction commencement date once more so it coincides with the delivery of materials. Pre-fabrication really does mean a complete re-think of how we would usually go about building; timings are different, ordering of materials can be done in a sequence which almost seems backwards and elements can be put together much faster. We have found this process quite difficult to get our heads around but we trust in our builder and know that it will all work out in the end!

This part of the process has made me reflect on how we approach client changes at CAA. We always know they are going to happen and we know they will cause delays, however I’m not sure we communicate this clearly to our clients. I think we need to better prepare clients so they understand once documentation has begun, there will be time to contemplate the design and there may still be changes they wish to make. Changes which will affect the agreed upon timeline. And ensure they know that this is completely normal!

Although, I knew it was normal and yet it still stressed me out!! Hopefully all big design changes are behind us now and we can move forward into consent…

Published on Friday, February 10th, 2017