Pay architects for their own home

Build with the architect : This is how the dream of your own house becomes a reality

A fireplace, a sauna or a large veranda: many private builders have precise ideas for their own house. It is best to discuss with an architect what is actually feasible. However, misunderstandings can arise during the first conversation - with consequences for the construction project. How can that be avoided?

"Builders can find the architects they trust via the Internet, but also through recommendations from friends, neighbors or associations," says Corinna Kodim from the Haus & Grund owners' association. At the first meeting it usually becomes clear whether the client and the architect can develop a common understanding of the planned construction.

The second step is usually the offer from the architect. And if the concept, date and price match the client's expectations, a work contract is concluded. "In the case of complex construction projects, it can make sense to initially only commission the preliminary planning in order to receive a cost estimate," advises Kodim.

An advantage when an architect is commissioned: he usually also takes on the communication with the authorities. For example, the architect submits the building permit plans to the building authorities and creates the implementation plans as well as time and cost plans in accordance with the approval. He also helps with inquiries from specialist companies and the comparison of offers and prices.

Too little coordination triggers conflicts

The architect then usually supervises the construction phase and accompanies the client during the acceptance process. So much for the theory. But where do difficulties most often arise in practice?

"It always becomes problematic when the client wants to make changes to the original plan," says Kodim. This delays planning and construction. In addition, the changes can lead to additional costs that will have to be negotiated again.

It is also important that the architect presents the costs in good time, emphasizes Renate Schulz from the Building Owner Protection Association. “If the design is not within budget, it has to be rescheduled. If the cost estimate comes too late or not at all, major problems can arise. "

Basically, conflicts between builders and architects would arise if there was too little coordination and communication - or if there was no clear assignment or no written contract.

The rights and obligations of building owners and architects are precisely regulated: “The building owner can demand faultless planning and monitoring from the architect,” says Florian Herbst from the Construction Law Working Group in the German Lawyers' Association (DAV).

The client can request changes at any time

The architect is obliged to inform the client about any risks during the entire project. The architect's plans must also be professional and approvable - i.e. technically feasible and in accordance with public building law. The client is authorized to give instructions to the architect and can therefore request changes to the planning at any time, said Herbst. If the architect makes mistakes, the client is entitled to compensation. The client can even ask the architect to do this if the construction company has carried out certain services inadequately. Because the architect was responsible for monitoring. “Because of their liability insurance, architects are“ popular ”and solvent opponents,” says Herbst.

The most important duty of the client, however, is to pay the agreed architect's fee. This is regulated in the Ordinance on Fees for Architectural and Engineering Services (HOAI). "The minimum and maximum rates in it must be adhered to," says Herbst. The amount of the fee depends, among other things, on the scope and difficulty of the architect's activity as well as the expected construction costs.

Architects should be hired in stages

Herbst generally advises clients not to underestimate their own “gut instinct” when choosing an architect: “Good cooperation is only possible with mutual trust. Otherwise the construction project is doomed to failure. "

Schulz also recommends that the architect be commissioned in stages. Builders would then have the opportunity to continue the contract with a new architect. If the cooperation does not fit, the contract with the old architect ends after a partial service - for example the preliminary draft.

“After all, builders should inquire about the architect's expertise and experience and have this verified,” recommends Kodim. In addition, the building regulations can differ from state to state. That is why it could be an advantage for clients to hire an architect from their own federal state. (dpa)

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