Diepsloot, a mostly informal settlement about 40 km north of Johannesburg city centre, was established in 1995 as a temporary living arrangement for just over 200 families evicted from other areas in Gauteng. Today it has grown into a sprawling settlement of more than 800,000 with various shops and centres and its own police station.
A rundown piece of land has also recently been transformed into a public park (Diepsloot West Park) which consists of new playground equipment, sports facilities, benches, a water channel, and a variety of trees for shade.
Modern-day Diepsloot, which is the Afrikaans word for "deep ditch", consists of fully government-subsidised housing, brick houses built by landowners (mostly in extensions 2 and 7), partially government subsidised houses, and shacks. The majority of Diepsloot residents (more than 45%) rent their property from a landowner who has subdivided their land.
➠ They make it easy for clients to find them online
In modern times, a business card doesn't go as far as it used to. The Internet has become a vital marketing tool for all business owners and professionals, including Architects. And an online presence, via in the form of a website or social media profile, is the main way in which communication channels are established between professionals and clients.
An Architect's website also helps to build trust with a prospective client before a meeting is set up, for clients can use a website to view portfolios, plus are given a platform to reach out at their own convenience.
➠ They always keep clients in the loop
While it is important to update a client on the progress of a project, there is much more to professional-client communication. Professional architects are able to communicate their design ideas in a way that are easy to understand for someone who doesn't possess building- and structural knowledge.
Architects also help to inform clients of any construction laws that they are not aware of before starting a project. By keeping a clear communication channel open, it is easier for a client to view an Architect (or other professional such as Interior Designer, Bathroom Designer, Kitchen Planner, etc.) as a trusted specialist.
➠ They embrace the use of CAD software
It's not only the way in which Architects (and other professionals) market themselves that have enhanced with technology, but also how they showcase their work. Thanks to computer-aided design (CAD) software, Architects are able to design much more detailed 3D plans of a project before it commences.
Such applications also allow for instant tweaks, leaving little room for design errors.
➠ They under promise and over deliver
A lot of clients see Architects as nothing more than the person designing the blueprints. However, professional Architects go above and beyond that by keeping their clients up to date on additional concerns (like building codes), costs of construction, what to build where, what materials are better to use, etc.
➠ They are innovative at networking and reaching out
Creative networking is not only so an Architect can get into contact with potential clients, but also to seek additional business opportunities and expand on their circle of professionals / vendors. This could lead to your Architect putting you in contact with other experts in the industry (such as Landscape Designers) for current or forthcoming projects, and possibly even get a discount on certain materials, fixtures and finishes.
➠ Is there good chemistry between me and the client?
Seeing as an Architect and client will enter into a professional working relationship (from the initial meeting and contract negotiation right through to on-site meetings and the completion of the project), there needs to be proper communication channels, as well as a sense of respect from both parties.
➠ Do I find this project interesting?
A project needs to challenge, excite and/or engage an Architect, otherwise there is no point in taking it on, as it could mean sub-standard results for the client.
➠ Will this project typecast me into doing more of this type of work?
Many Architects wish to explore a majority of design styles (modern, Asian, classic, etc.) and/or work in more than one industry (commercial, residential). Likewise, there are also Architects who wish to only stick with one design style and/or remain in the same industry. Thus, there is always the possibility that a client's project does not fit in with the Architect's vision/mission for themselves and their portfolio.
➠ Do I have sufficient time to complete this project?
➠ Is it a high-risk project worth the effort?
Elements such as budget, building type, schedule, fee, changes and liability will be scrutinised in order for an Architect to answer this question.
➠ Do I have the experience?
➠ Is this project good business / profitable for me?
At the end of the day, an Architect also needs to make a living, and must be sure that a client's project will be worth his time and effort.