Find the right Architects in Pietermaritzburg | homify

1 Architects in Pietermaritzburg

Known as one of South Africa's most historically rich places, the city of Pietermaritzburg (called 'Maritzburg' by locals) boasts one of the best-preserved Victorian architectural collections in the world. Some of its interesting landmarks include the City Hall, the Old Colonial Building, and Alexandra Park.

The city is located between Durban, the Drakensberg and the game reserves of KwaZulu-Natal. It is the capital and second largest city of the province and is surrounded by lush landscapes, which is why it's also called the city of flowers. It was originally founded in 1838 by the Voortrekkers after the defeat of Dingane at the Battle of Blood River. For a short while it was the capital of the Boer republic, Natalia, before Britain took over in 1843.

In 1893 Natal became responsible for its own government and an assembly building, along with a city hall, was built. Natal became a province in 1910 when the Union of South Africa was formed, and Pietermaritzburg remained the capital.

Popular house types in Pietermaritzburg

Proud of its red-brick charm and authenticity, Pietermaritzburg has gone to great lengths to preserve its multitude of Victorian and Edwardian buildings, a lot of which are considered landmarks, scattered about the city.

Even today, the streets are lined with Victorian structures, stretching from residential suburbs to the city centre. This ensures a rich English atmosphere and is a unique way in which the city retains much of its past character and homeliness. Simply walking through the streets, from residential to commercial spaces, captures the essence of the entire Victorian past.

Modern times, however, have graced the city with an assortment of modern- and contemporary structures, which can be seen in both the commercial and residential areas. Thus, even though lovers of Victorian and Colonial homes have a widespread variety of options in Pietermaritzburg, there is also a decent dose of 21st century modern-style structures.

➣Read more: 4 of South Africa's most popular house design styles

What to consider before restoring/renovating an old house?

Don't be fooled into thinking that it's simply a matter of moving into an old Victorian / Edwardian house. While a lot of the old houses in Pietermaritzburg are in good shape, others need a bit of maintenance before they can be regarded as 'move-in ready'.

Keep the following in mind before you renovate a vintage house:

  • It's a commitment. If you're going to buy a historic house because you love the old wavy glass windows, then you need to love the old floors, too. You need to understand that it's not going to be possible to live with some of the creature comforts of the 21st century, like underfloor heating, for instance.
  • Water damage is the enemy. It has long-term effects and needs to be handled immediately. Keep an eye out for any signs of water damage, especially around the ceilings, floors and windows. It could be a sign of serious structural problems.
  • Get a professional, reliable team to assist you. Don't go at it alone. Get a contractor and inspector who specialise in restoring historic houses to help estimate the amount of work required to get your old house in tip-top shape.
  • Start small with a small budget. If you don't have unlimited funds, rather look for a smaller house with fewer issues. It's best to live in a perfectly restored Victorian home that's on the smaller side than a sprawling old mansion that's falling apart simply because you couldn't afford a decent renovation.

➣Read more: 8 essential things to consider when renovating your home

Why do you need an architect and what are the advantages?

No actual law states that you have to employ an architect to fix up / build a house. However, as architects are skilled professionals, they can definitely influence various factors, such as the cost and quality of a project.

The advantages of using a professional architect include:

  • Value for money: A skilled and experienced architect's input can be invaluable when it comes to developing design solutions. These can help to cut construction costs, reduce running expenses, add-long term value to the property, and perhaps even open up a few shortcuts / loopholes to achieving your dream home for less money.
  • Less worry: Working with an architect means you have someone on your team who knows the construction industry's working methods and standards, plus the relevant Building Regulations of the city / country.
  • Better results: Where you may just see your home as a series of rooms grouped together, an architect will look at the plans with imagination. Remember that architects are trained to design architectural plans to not only ensure the finished building looks good, but that it is also structurally safe and practical.

Why must I use an architect from Pietermaritzburg?

In addition to assisting you with their design skills, an architect in Pietermaritzburg can also put you in touch with other professionals in the area such as builders, interior designers, landscape architects, etc. Selecting a professional in the Pietermaritzburg region means you also benefit from their knowledge of:

  • Pietermaritzburg's climate and environment
  • Reliable contractors
  • The relevant building regulations of your suburb or zone
  • Local authority planning regulations.

What will it cost to hire a professional?

There exists no single template which South African architects use to calculate their costs for a project. In general, four methods can be used:

1. Project cost-based

The fee tariff which is published by The South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) is a general guideline which most architects use. Taking the client's available budget, the architectural fee would be calculated as follows:

Base Fee + % of Project cost = Fee

Some architects avoid this method and choose to apply their own percentage fee. In general, an architect's service costs can come in between 6 – 18% of the total construction budget.

2. Time-based

The architectural firm may opt to charge for their services at an hourly rate, especially in cases where the scope of the client's project is not clearly defined. Most often, though, clients are quite surprised to discover just how much time an architect devotes to a project, which can include site visits after the design / plans have been approved. However, by setting a 'cap' on the amount of hours that an architect can spend on a project, the client effectively also controls the amount that can be billed.

3. Square metre rate-based

When it comes to alterations or extensions, some firms opt to charge their fees by calculating the square metres of the project. Nonetheless, even this method has no guarantee that two architects will quote the same amount for the same project.

4. Combination of time and project cost-based

Smaller to medium-sized firms are usually more open to the idea of combining the time-based method with the cost-based one to calculate their prices. A time-based fee will be established at the beginning stage of the project to determine the scope and concept design. Later on, the architect will switch to a cost-based fee, which is then added on to the earlier amount.

Keep in mind that the final amount charged by the architect is influenced by a mixture of elements, such as the size and length of the project, the quality of the required finishes and materials, plus the experience / reputation of the architect and/or his firm. For example, one firm may charge under R4,000 per m² for a low-cost house while another (more accomplished) company can charge more than R8,000 per m² (or more) for the exact same design.

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