Award winning


Heini van Niekerk is a local West Coast Architect with offices in Vredenburg, his company are the Proud Winners Of The 2018, 1st place Community Youth Award for their architecture projects in the West Coast in addition to Best House of the Year. Heini aims to explain parts of his profession in short with a few questions we’ve had.

What do Architects do?

Architects wear many hats in order to make a project successful. Architects design and plan spaces, structures and cities, with consideration for looks (aesthetics), safety, accessibility, functionality for the client, cost, and specifying (the "specs") construction materials and processes. They manage the building project, and most importantly they communicate ideas. The architect's role is to turn ideas (a mental activity) into reality (the "built environment") whilst managing the process in between these two worlds.

Do I need an Architect?

As with any construction project, budget is at the top of the list of concerns. While hiring an architect does add to the overall cost of the project in the beginning, working with an architect will often result in lower overall expenses by anticipating and managing many of the potentially expensive pitfalls of the building process which can actually be a saving. An architect will ensure timely communication and coordination among building trades and consultants to eliminate many hidden and additional expenses which means you will actually be saving.

An architect is trained, experienced and an owner’s best advocate for ensuring a properly designed, cost-effective building and process. While a builder or a home designer may make some adaptations at your request, a good architect will anticipate your needs — even if you are not sure how to express them. But what if your own dreams are more modest? Must you hire an architect? Maybe not. If your taste runs less towards design, low key traditional, you may opt for other cost-saving alternatives.

Who is an Architect?

Not everyone who claims to be an architect are one and there is a difference. Only licensed architects by law can call themselves architects. Architects are registered professionals. Like doctors and lawyers, they have completed university programs, lengthy internships and rigorous exams. Throughout their careers, architects participate in continuing education and professional development, similar to medical doctors and licensed attorneys.

Architecture was not always a licensed profession for all and many plan drafters aim to convince clients that they’re actual architects when they’re not. We’ve had two cases in the last week here in the West Coast where candidate draughtsman with no qualifications or experience claimed to be architects and the owners were convinced. The owners did not know any better and, how could they? Not all home designers have the same level of education or competency as evident in the SAQA gradings for South Africa. Nevertheless, other home designers must still maintain their professional registration with SACAP (South African Council for the Architectural Profession) which demonstrate that they have completed coursework and achieved experience in the field. The field of options for architecture have been divided into the professional categories as architect, senior architectural technologist, architectural technologist and a draughtsman. Always request your architectural professionals Indemnity Insurance which is compulsory and required by law to protect you.

Protecting the Public?

Architecture is a regulated profession and as a member of the public or individual you are protected by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession. The public can check if a person is an architect or not. Simply type in the name, surname or registration number you have and the SACAP register will tell you if they're an architect or not by using the web address below.

Written by Heini van Niekerk
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