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How to choose the best architect for your commercial project

16 July 2021

Regardless of the sector of professional activity (catering, office rental, medical center, store, etc.), the architecture of the commercial building is the first impression of your brand. It is therefore essential to take care of the interior and exterior appearance of your space and to invest in it in order to encourage passengers to enter and stimulate sales.

 

In order to create this stimulating atmosphere, you must, first of all, hire the architect who will lead your construction, expansion or renovation project. The right choice of this contractor is the key to the success of your project.

Before calling on the company concerned, several elements should be considered such as the versatility of the services offered, the quality of similar projects carried out, communication with stakeholders and of course the fees and duration of the work.

What are the qualifications of an architect?

According to the Ordre des architectes du Québec (OAQ): “The architect is a designer and an advisor. Thanks to his overall vision, he is the only professional to offer you complete support at each stage of your renovation, expansion or construction project of a building, including interior fittings.”

For an architect in Quebec to be able to practice his profession, he must be a member of the OAQ who certifies his skills and long training (master’s degree in architecture, professional internship of 3,720 hours, passing the exam of the admission and obtaining a license to practice).

Creative and versatile, the architect will support you through all the stages of the project and help you get the most out of it:

  • Advice on the choice of land
  • Design and economic evaluation
  • Procurement of materials
  • Space optimization
  • Tips for saving energy (air conditioning and heating)
  • Support for administrative procedures
  • Site monitoring
  • Verification and acceptance of work

What does a commercial architect do?

Is it compulsory to call on an architect?

Since September 24, 2020, a new law has been put into force which attributes to the architect several acts reserved to the exercise of his profession when these actions have the effect of changing the use or affecting the structural integrity, the fire walls or separations, the exits and their accesses or the envelope (source):

  • Prepare, modify, sign and seal a plan, an estimate, a specification, a work certificate, an expert report or a monitoring report relating to the construction, expansion or modification of a building.
  • Monitor work related to the construction, expansion or modification of a building, in particular for the purpose of producing a certificate of compliance required by law.
  • In the exercise of a professional activity referred to in the two preceding points, give notice as well as sign and seal a written notice.

When do you need an architect for a commercial project?

Considering the technical and administrative services supported by the architect, it is obvious that the selection of this professional must be established before starting any procedure of your renovation or construction project.

From the design of the plan to the delivery of the project, including administrative documents and technical control, a good architect puts in place all the guidelines to achieve your goals and meet quality standards. Soliciting a qualified architect from the start ensures the smooth running of your project and avoids any loss of time due to corrective work.

Why hire an architect that specializes in commercial buildings?

Beyond legal obligations, engaging a seasoned architect in commercial projects is the best way to ensure the functionality and design of your business space over the long term. Indeed, the mission of the commercial architect is to develop and embellish a structure that serves to enhance the brand image of the company.

The peculiarity of the commercial building compared to the residential building is manifested in the choice of style which allows the seduction of visitors, the optimization of space and the stimulation of sales. Thanks to his expertise, the architect recommends the design that is most appreciated by your potential clients, according to:

  • Interior and exterior decoration trends
  • The nature of your activity
  • The location of the space
  • Your budget

Whether it is a warm atmosphere for a restaurant, a modern and uncluttered design for offices or a well-appointed space for a boutique, a team of architects, engineers and designers will be at your disposal in order to carry out your project.

How to choose a commercial architect?

In order to ensure the smooth running of your construction or renovation project, there are certain elements to take into account when choosing the commercial architect who will take charge of your project. Thanks to the multiple online and offline resources, you will be able to make an informed decision!

Exploit online resources

A localized search on Google helps you collect valuable information about your future business architect such as customer reviews, services offered, fees, etc.

You can also consult the work carried out by the architectural firm. At this point, you are expected to focus on buildings similar to the one you want to get a feel for the contractor’s ability to meet your expectations.

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Chat with colleagues and former clients

Despite the abundance of resources on the internet, asking your colleagues in the same industry for advice remains a means that should not be overlooked. Talking with former clients not only tells you about the technical skills of the entrepreneur, but also about his commitment and his human qualities.

Finding an architectural firm that clients are happy with and are considering hiring them again is a very good sign to select them.

Choose an architect certified by the OAQ

In Quebec, architects must be a member of the OAQ to practice their profession. Indeed, this institution gathers all the information concerning the training, the duties and the services of the architect. So before you entrust your project to a contractor, you can ask them to show you their OAQ membership card.

Call on the AAPPQ

The Association des Architectes en Pratique Privée du Québec allows you to access its directory to find architects specializing in certain types of projects active in your region. However, you must keep in mind that this association does not bring together all the architects of Quebec.

Favor architects who master the sustainable development of buildings (LEED)

Adopting a strategy that contributes to the sustainable development of your commercial building can bring several benefits to your business. For example, the architect can guide you in designing an air conditioning and heating system to save energy.

What questions should you ask an architect?

When looking for a commercial architect, do not select the first contractor you come across. You should have, first, a list of shortlisted candidates with whom to discuss by asking them a set of relevant questions such as:

  • How do you manage your project? Do you have a whole design and production team or will you use subcontractors?
  • Did you do a project similar to mine?
  • How will the new changes align with the current structure? (in the event of a renovation project)
  • What software and digital tools do you use for the design and monitoring of the site? For example, do you use 3D models?
  • What sets you apart from your competition? What are the advantages of the design-build method?
  • What quality certifications do you have?
  • What elements do I need to provide you with in order to establish an accurate quote?
  • How do you deal with unforeseen events that can delay the work?

What are the fees of a commercial architect?

The fees of the commercial architect are among the first concerns of each owner (the client). You should educate yourself about the exact services developed by the architectural firm and the fees they offer for your project.

Typically, for new construction, the full cost of a commercial architect is worth around 10% of the total cost of the project. These fees cover:

  • The sketch
  • The preliminary study
  • The design of detailed plans
  • Coordination of calls for tenders
  • Site supervision

The coordination of calls for tenders and site supervision represents 3% of the total fees. Therefore, the architectural plans (sketch, preliminary study and detailed plans) correspond to approximately 7% of the cost of construction.

 

These fees depend essentially on:

  • The size of the project: the larger the project, the smaller the percentage of the architect (economies of scale)
  • Details requested by the client
  • The level of complexity of the building

For a renovation project, the architect’s costs are about 50% higher than for a construction project, because he will have to adapt his study to the existing structure.

What is the average cost of an architect in Quebec?

Depending on the factors mentioned above and the services undertaken, the architect’s approximate hourly rate ranges from $ 55 to $ 200 per hour.

Province Average hourly rate (Trainee/Experienced architect)
Quebec Between $ 55 and $ 200 per hour
Alberta Between $ 50 and $ 250 per hour
Nova Scotia Between $ 100 and $ 240 per hour
Ontario Between $ 60 and $ 200 an hour

If you are about to launch your commercial project or you plan to renovate your building according to current tastes, Spacia provides you with the best architects to enhance your professional space. With its versatile team, Spacia stands out with a design-build approach that allows you to entrust your entire project to a single point of contact.

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