Don’t be shy. There are a lot of you out there.


“Why do we have to use an architect? Can’t we do it ourselves?”

The questions we hear all around town. Some of you are so polite you whisper it, and for that, we thank you.


First up, yes, you do need an architect. It adds value to your investment and contributes to your aesthetic peace of mind. We know what works and why it works. We take in the, sometimes vast, range of your ideas, needs, and wants and come up with a beautiful design that is, very importantly, practical. To sum it up in more relatable terminology, we’re your wingman and date all in one.

Now that you have a highly condensed overview of what we do (we promise to elaborate in future articles) allow us to get to the good stuff. To kick start this journey, we’d like to offer you our Top 5 Tips when meeting with an architect for the first time. This has been rumoured to be likened to a first date, so we’re sure you know what we mean when we say: starting the process off with good insight proves favourable odds in continuing the dating and building process.

With the above intention in mind, our goal is that these points will help us help you as best we can and as efficiently as possible. In the long run, the purpose is to save you (and us) time, save you (and us) money, and to put you (and us) first. Yes, company-that-we-will-not-name, we can both be first.


Top Tip 01


We cannot emphasise this enough.

When going on a date, you always seem to have a basic idea of your type. Simple right? This is what we need to know too (no, not your dating preference – that you may keep to yourself. Unless you really do want to share? Then we’re all ears…).

Knowing what you want doesn’t mean the specifics, what their favourite colour is/ what colour of the wall you like because we understand that’s why you may need us. It is a clear outline of what you’re expecting; it’s your brief*. A good little trick that will aid you in being prepared for the questions that may arise, and one that will give yourself a better visual of what you’re after, is to think of your current home.

What do you enjoy about it, what do you think is missing, and what do you not like? What lifestyle do you lead? Do you enjoy entertaining or do you prefer being a homebody? What spaces are important to you? What does the future entail?

Take these prompts and create a need and want list. This helps us determine the hierarchy of spaces required and should the dreaded budget get you, we will know what’s most important to focus on. Speaking of budget…



Top Tip 02

“Money, money, moneyyyy. Money.”

If you’re on the conservative side, it’s usually recommended that you don’t go on a date to the fanciest place in town because, as much as you would like to impress, that façade* doesn’t last too long.

So we recommend you to BE UPFRONT ABOUT YOUR BUDGET and ask the architect about the current cost of building. This allows us to ensure that we aim for the best bang for YOUR buck. Please keep in mind: building costs are unfortunately more expensive than you think – especially when dealing with earthworks on sloped and rocky terrains (aka the Lowveld).



Top Tip 03

Relates to the above but needs its own limelight.

Ask the architect about their


Further the question (if they don’t already go into it themselves) and ask for a breakdown of the fees and costs involved. An architect can do as little or as much as you require budget-based.

To elaborate: an architects’ fees are related to the scope of work and stages of involvement, but ultimately it all boils down to a time-cost relation. Good design takes a reasonable amount of time. We wish we could click our fingers and be done with your dream home, believe us. The more change requests we receive, the more time it takes us to finalise the design. These hours then start to weigh against the initial time-cost estimate, and that’s when things get tough and rushed – no one wants that. Refer back to Top Tip 01.

If you’re using this article for dating advice on the off chance: we highly suggest not asking your date about their finances.

Scrap Top Tip 03 for that purpose only.



Top Tip 04

The older we get it, the easier it becomes to navigate what we want by


What are the essential issues, considerations, and challenges of the person or, in our case, the project? A vital step is to know the building you plan to alter or the site you will build on. Have the original plans with you (they do not have to be detailed) and/or some photos. The more info you give us off the cuff, the more we can help you. This enables us to provide you with a more accurate estimation of timelines, workflow processes, and costs from the get-go.



Top Tip 05

A wonderful question that will round off your meeting perfectly:


This Top Tip could be a tricky and confusing question in the dating pool – we suggest avoiding this one.

Each client and architect is different. Start the relationship off on a positive note by asking the architect upfront what they need from you and letting them know what you want. Tell them how involved you’d like to be (some clients don’t like being involved at all, and that’s okay) and inform them of how much time and during which stages you would like to participate.

Considering the above 5 points and how beautifully majestic we make ourselves as architects sound, it’s essential to acknowledge (and this isn’t just word on the street) we are human beings too. We treat each project as a clean slate and a new challenge, so we’re sometimes learning alongside you. This should go without saying, but the overarching concept of this article is the constant, and maybe over repeated sentence:

“The biggest key to any positive relationship is GOOD COMMUNICATION.”

If you haven’t heard of that before, you’re either great at communication or the antithesis thereof – in the case of the latter: we’re slightly worried about you.


At the end of your date, if you aren’t happy or feel that you are no longer interested in the relationship, it’s best to be honest.  The same goes for architects; speak to us. We won’t hold it against you. Times are tough, and money fluctuates. We understand the limitations and difficulties of building, and we have your back.

So, to sum up our summary: if you’re on a date, we recommend only using Top Tips 01, 02, and 04 but, if you’re meeting an architect, we suggest all 5. We will expand in further articles, but for now, we want you to enjoy the process and get as much out of it initially as possible.


We genuinely find so much joy in helping your visions come to life. It’s what makes our job worth it.

That and a big glass of wine at the end of the day.




There’s always some fine print:

T’s & C’s apply.

Orbic will not be held responsible for any failed dates or conflict that arises from our Top Tips in a romantic regard.

It’s probably a tad late to mention we’re not good at giving dating advice?



the fun-aunt Jargon Breakdown (as promised)

A Brief:

It is the outline of your requirements for the space/s you’re after. Not a pair of knickers.



Front of the building that faces the street and deceptive outward appearance. It’s funny because we refer to both in the same sentence. Get it?