Will we be able to understand architect drawings?
"We plan to engage an architect to help alter and extend our home. We have no experience of drawings and worry about whether we will understand what is being proposed at each different stage. Any advice?"
"I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies."
Le Corbusier, Architect
Drawing is the language of architects, the means by which ideas are explored and things that are imagined are captured on paper.
Where you are considering structural alterations to your home – for example, opening up between two rooms, removing walls, extending, etc – drawings are an indispensable tool for pinning down how exactly these ideas will translate into reality.
They are also useful in helping you analyse what you have as well as comparing this with what is proposed.
Formal architect's drawings can be inhibiting and generally include plans, sections and elevations.
The most important drawing throughout the project will be the plan, normally drawn at a scale of 1:50.
Buy a scale rule and explore how to use it so that you will be able to read the drawings and understand exactly what is being proposed at all times.
The drawings will become more complex as the project progresses, with lots of text, dimensions and technical symbols. Ask your architect for a 'clean' set of drawings without text and symbols at each stage so that you can tell exactly what space configurations are being proposed. Ask for the walls to be coloured in for clarity, if necessary.
Make sure to review the drawings thoroughly as they are issued. Seek clarification about any aspect of a drawing where you are unclear about what is being proposed. Some people are genuinely unable to fathom building drawings.
In this case, ask your architect for some three dimensional sketches or a simple model.
At the end of the project, make sure to keep a set of the most up to date drawings. These will be indispensable should you ever get the energy to tackle some more building projects at a future stage!
Eva Byrne, is an RIAI-registered architect and founder of houseology, residential design consultancy, www.houseology.ie