5 things architects wish all estate agents knew
Agents are great when it comes to identifying the emotional attributes of a property, such as the “touch and feel” of materials, or the “flow of space” that will encourage a sale. By backing that up with some sound technical advice, you could convince a more informed buyer.
1. UNDERSTAND THE LAW
Get a handle on the statutory constraints so you can advise buyers effectively. You do not need an architect for this – just do the homework.
In order of priority:
- Title deed
Read it. Don’t propose departures from this document unless you are looking for long-term headaches.
- Zoning scheme
Understand the relevant issues – not just coverage, setbacks and height, but also rulings on outbuildings, street access and parking.
- Local authorities
Do not underestimate the influence of ratepayers’ associations, homeowners’ associations, body corporates and other relevant civic associations.
2. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE DESIGN PROCESS
When it comes to alterations and new builds, architects can spend up to a year designing and getting approvals before spending another year supervising construction. This is the reality of the process, and it requires a professional team and a realistic budget. Usually “great flow” is a result of careful planning and design. Review the property plan and consider if it can be improved with an alteration.
Very often buyers will not have this vision and will walk away from a good potential opportunity.
3. CONSIDER FLEXIBILITY
Assess the building for its ability to be flexible. Building work consumes energy, and saving existing building work benefits the environment and the budget.
Consider whether a building can be changed to better suit the buyer’s requirements or the environment it is in. Some buildings are so badly planned and built that they are unchangeable and require demolition. If this is the case, be sure to inform potential buyers.
4. UNDERSTAND THERMAL PERFORMANCE
A building needs to respond to its climatic region with correct insulation and heat gain protection to avoid high electrical consumption. Views are great, but large south-facing single-glazing panels will mean high electricity bills or fireplace dependence. Likewise, west facades need sun protection.
Agents should assess a property’s insulation, and the most important aspect is to find out what is in the ceiling. A simple R-value table in the SANS 204 Energy Efficiency in Buildings publication will tell you what the minimum spec required is for the region, which is translated into either polystyrene board or fibreglass blanket thickness.
Having the correct information on hand can assist a sale in today’s market, where buyers are more concerned than ever about electricity consumption.
5. UNDERSTAND GLAZING PERFORMANCE
Glazing orientation, size and type affects insulation, and this has a major impact on comfort and livability. Performance single-glazing and double-glazing units have become the norm in all our projects, as they provide insulation in winter and prevent heat gain in summer. The UV filters even protect furniture.
These components are not big wow factors on show day, but informed buyers will appreciate an agent who has considered glazing and is able to offer solutions for potential problems. There are four basic rules: beware large south glazing for heat loss; beware large west glazing for heat gain; beware not enough north-facing glazing; and make sure east light enters a kitchen.
Dion Walters [Pr. Arch] has been practising architecture for 16 years as a director of Bomax Architects. The firm is dedicated to designing innovative, contemporary solutions for residential and commercial clients who expect passion and flair for their homes or commercial buildings. bomax.co.za
Words: Dion Walters