A CHAT WITH LISA BREEZE...
THE ARCHITECT FROM GO TO WOW!
Are you planning a new build or renovating your home and struggling to visualise all the details? It’s very common to feel fairly overwhelmed in the beginning stages of renovating or building your home. You’re not sure whether it’s possible to manage on your own, or whether an architect is of true value. Is it really necessary and how much is it going to cost you?
An architect will take you right from your project’s conception to its completion. A great architect will work as your partner, guiding you through the holistic process. This can be a relationship that lasts a number of years, so how do you know you’re finding the right fit for your personality and your project?
Today we’re chatting with Lisa Breeze of Lisa Breeze Architect who will answer these questions and more. Get to know an architect; the person and the process. In Lisa’s philosophy, she designs homes for and with the people who live in them. Bringing a personal touch to architecture, Lisa shares her passion for craft and detail. Lisa thrives on the creative process, working in a partnership with her clients to bring their homes to life.
We hope you enjoy this episode as much we did!
If you have a topic or question you’d like us to cover, contact us here.
SOME TOPICS THAT WE COVER:
Whether it’s for a new build or renovation, the advantages of using an architect.
The holistic, thorough and refined architectural design process and its impact on the outcome.
The art of the tender process - what are you paying for when engaging an architect?
The value of simplistic design.
Approaching an architect - how do you prepare?
Trusting your architect and being comfortable with exploring the ideas they put forward.
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Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below:
Rebeka: Hello, lovely BuildHers. Today, we get to speak to Lisa Breeze of Lisa Breeze Architect. She's really amazing and I really enjoyed our conversation. I think this is a really great way to get to know an architect and get to know their ethos and what they stand for, I guess, before you reach out. This is one of the things that I find is like, "I'm curious as to the person behind it and to the process" so we get to go through what Lisa's philosophy is, how her process works and I guess some of the advantages to using an architect on your project. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. We will get stuck into it just after this quick intro.
Rebeka: Hi, I'm Rebeka.
Kribashini: I'm Kribashini.
Rebeka: Welcome to Building with BuildHer.
Kribashini: Our Podcast, we believe that building is fun, super fun, so much fun.
Rebeka: BuildHer Collective was created to help women with building and renovating. We believe that with the right tools, everyone can build. For us, it's all about encouraging women to take back control of the building process and really achieve their dreams.
Kribashini: We are women in the building industry, and as developers, builders and project managers, it's our passion to share everything we know with other women doing the same. That's why we've created this podcast for you.
Rebeka: If you love all things building.
Kribashini: You're into design.
Rebeka: Keen on the numbers.
Kribashini: About to renovate.
Rebeka: Thinking and dreaming of that forever home of what it would look like.
Kribashini: Or even developing for profit.
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Kribashini: Subscribe to our podcast and follow our journey over at buildhercollective.com.au.
Rebeka: Welcome back and thank you for joining us. Today, we have a really exciting guest. It's taken a little while of coordination to line up. We've got Lisa Breeze of Lisa Breeze Architect. She's an amazing architect and actually, I came across one of your jobs, I think is how I started just following you and then you happened to send me an email. Did you email me?
Lisa Breeze: Yes, because I was really impressed with what you're up to and the way you're helping women in the industry, the building industry.
Rebeka: It just kind of all happened at the same time and I was like, "Oh my God, that's perfect. Look at that." Through BuildHer, we talk to people very openly about having design people and a range of design people you can use. Whether you use a draftsperson or a design consultant or an interior designer or an architect, I think we're pretty open in saying that, "I love to use an architect, I have the budget to use an architect. I feel like I get a much better result because it's more refined and designed throughout." You are an architect so two guesses about what your opinion in a way, but I guess, what are the advantages from your point of view in using an architect?
Lisa: I think the main advantages is the outcome will be holistic and thorough and refined. The architect will take you from a concept right through to completion and help you out during the build. That ensures that the initial ideas are followed right through that long, detailed process and the built outcome is in line with that initial vision.
Rebeka: Different types of architects are working in different ways. You do a full service so you take it from the very beginning through concept, through the end and contract documentation and handover.
Lisa: Start to finish.
Rebeka: Start to finish, which I think is quite- and I know you're flexible, but I think it's quite amazing because the vision you've got in your head, you're really guaranteeing the outcome of.
Lisa: Yes. Those drawings that we produce at the start of the process and follow through and build up. That level of detail is communicated at a greater level of detail as the process unfolds. Those drawings are turned into construction documentation, which the builder then takes and builds from.
Rebeka: You run the tender process in that as well.
Lisa: Yes, exactly.
Rebeka: Perfect. Tendering for anyone who doesn't know is actually quite an art.
Rebeka: It's not quite as simple as, "Here you go, I have the drawings and let's see what price comes back because they're never the same." You have to work out like what they're actually communicating in their tender.
Lisa: Exactly, yes. There's not a one-size-fits-all solution for that. Sometimes, it makes more sense depending on the condition of industry in the economy, the location of the project, the size of it. Competitive tendering is not necessarily the best way to go. Bringing on a builder earlier on in the design process and working with them in a more detailed way and refining the price that way can be better suited for some projects. It's case-by-case. How to find a builder, I find is a case-by-case.
Rebeka: Yes, I agree. I think everything- and this is what makes building kind of challenging for people because every aspect of it is case-by-case. It's like, well, there are no two sides that are the same. Each architect or design consultant, you've got different demands and I guess, if I introduce you to a site, what are you looking for to take cues? How do you draw inspiration?
Lisa: Well, most of the projects I work on are renovations to old houses, not all of them but a lot of them are in the inner suburbs. The first thing I'm looking for is the bones of the house and the character of it and if there are any cues that we can take from that to develop on when it comes to the extension and all that, also that middle zone in the house where we ultimately end up transitioning from old to new.
Rebeka: It's hard, isn't it?
Lisa: Yes. I think that's the trickiest part, that mid-zone where we're looking at reorganizing rooms and repurposing spaces. I find that's probably where a great level of value is derived from an architect because they can sort of really toss in new ideas that you potentially haven't thought of. We all know, you knocked down the old part of the back and put the new kitchen and living room there and have got a connection to the backyard, that's a fairly standard thing, but the way that mid-zone in the house works, it can be tricky but can deliver some great outcomes.
Rebeka: Obviously, architects have trained for years and years and years-
Lisa: Long time.
Rebeka: -to get that kind of level of detail and to be able to communicate it and they're looking all the time. Whilst you might think, "Well, I just sat down and came up with it," you're actually paying 10 years of research.
Lisa: Yes, and experience.
Rebeka: Sometimes, we'll say things and I'll be like, "I can't use that," but I've got a little storage cupboard in my head of things that I'll be like if an opportunity comes up, that I can pull that through and-
Lisa: Use that idea.
Rebeka: -yes. Sometimes, you sort of look at a space and think, "I wonder if we could fit- what could we fit in there or do we bother trying to fit too much in there and make the space more generous?" That's a process that is not always immediately obvious until you sit down and you start drawing and experimenting with layouts and sizes and connections between spaces. You're presenting one thing that's taken like all these hours and all these different trial and errors. It looks sexy.
Lisa: Yes. exactly. That's the idea to present something that looks like it was simple and easy to come up with but usually, there's a lot of trial and error to get there and testing ideas and there'll be many different solutions that'll work in the same circumstance. There's usually a standout idea that's better than the rest. We, as architects, tend to lead with and then if there's refinement and it would change as needed, then that's possible. That continues happening throughout the process right up until we're on-site. If new things sort of expose themselves even at that late stage, we can still work.
Rebeka: I guess that's the beauty of using someone all the way through. It's what I find the beauty of building my own projects is that I can chop and change at the last minute. If you've got that same architect, then you're making sure it's kind of all fitting with the original design concept and you're not just doing something really...
Lisa: thrown together.
Rebeka: ... well you know how sometimes people see something and then they're like, "We'll put that over there," and then once it's built, it's like, "Right, probably shouldn't have done that."
Lisa: It's not such a bad thing to be questioned on those presumptions or ideas that you sort of really want to cling onto. They might not work in every situation but that's the part of the process testing out these ideas.
Rebeka: There are times that I've used architects and I've loved their designs best. They've presented me this plan and I've just looked at it and I've got it, it's so simple.
Lisa: How did you come up with that?
Rebeka: I know, but they'll be the concepts that really work the best, I feel. Like, when you've got a plan and you're presenting it to a client, you've got all that kind of iteration of work that's happened before. It's this kind of concept that as you said, looks like it was this five-minute thing. They'll be, to me, the best ideas once you've actually built them. I've built a lot of things and had that experience and they're the ones that I look at-
Lisa: Yes, you've done that process.
Rebeka: -at that point and go, "Huh."
Lisa: How did that come together?
Rebeka: That looks quite simple.
Lisa: I think that's an important thing to keep in mind as a client of an architect or a designer, that there is that background and that testing that goes into it. Sometimes, we do opt early on to investigate not just one option but two or three completely different directions to really note out what's going to be best for the client, the family and the site and the house and the budget. There's usually more than one solution to a problem. It's just a process in itself working out what that is. If that means trying up option A, B and C, one extra-large, one medium size and one small, then that's what we do to work that out.
Rebeka: If I'm a client and I'm coming to you, what should I bring to you? How do I help inform the conversation where you're happy with me as a client and you've understood what I'm talking about?
Lisa: It varies from person-to-person, depending on where they're at in the process themselves but at a minimum, a good understanding of what they're hoping to achieve in terms of area or number of spaces, a rough sense of budget also helps in those early conversations.
Rebeka: I'd say it's almost critical to understand the numbers because if someone's coming to you and saying, "I've got $100,000, can you help me?" and you're like, "Well"--
Lisa: Yes, it's an important conversation to have early on in the process for sure. By the same token, it's very hard to tell how much something will cost before it's been designed and conceded. It is a tricky-
Rebeka: -I find it's a moving-
Lisa: -moving target.
Lisa: Yes, the way the design process unfolds with my services that by the time we're on-site, we're well and truly aware of how much this thing's going to cost because no stone is being left unturned when it comes to interrogating. We start with rooms and spaces in the size and the form of the extension and we hone right down into the type and colour of the window, hardware and where the power plugs are and light switches. The value I find in going into that level of detail on paper is that there's less to think about and fewer surprises once we do get to that construction stage.
Rebeka: Spaces do that weird thing if you put the slab down or if you're using a slab, you're going to put the floor down and you're like, "Oh my God, this house is tiny." I see a lot of adjustments happen. At that point, you're like, "Whoa. All right, it's going to get bigger."
Lisa: I say that to a lot of my clients as the site develops. "This space is going to feel smaller than what you think and then it's going to grow and then it's going to get smaller again, just depending on the finishes we're seeing and the amount that's being built and the light that's coming in." Your perception of it changes as the process goes through but it's always good to have in mind that we've really gone into great level of detail on paper so we've thought about everything before we've gotten to this point and just be patient through the building process and watch it evolve.
The service I deliver is designed to reduce the overwhelm by really interrogating everything beforehand before we get to that point, all in the interest of keeping the build as stress-free as possible.
Rebeka: Yes, and quick, right, because everything's being prepared.
Lisa: The builder knows what they're doing because it's all on paper. We know how long it's going to take, we know roughly how much it's going to cost, give or take, a small amount of variations that inevitably happen. In the entire process, the builder is usually the most stressful for most people. If we can really focus on reducing the stresses that do occur, then by doing the right thing in all the stages beforehand, I find that's really important.
Rebeka: Then you're assuring quality as well because one of the things we think about is the finishes, it's like the final 10% of the cost or actually, you've built the floor, you've built the foundations, you've got the wall, you've got the roof, you've got thing and then we're going to cut money on the tiles because we're run out of money and you're like, "Well, no, you've thought of that all."
Lisa: Yes, beforehand.
Rebeka: You feel like it's all-
Krisbashini: -tied together.
Lisa: Exactly, yes, all talking to each other, all part of the single vision.
Rebeka: -back to my question before we got sidetracked, what should I come to you with?
Lisa: A good idea of the spaces, images can help to communicate ideas or things that you like. We start with a conversation in the house and a wander around and I find that's the best way to talk about the ideas that you've got in your mind about what might work. Then the process really needs to get underway and the experiment needs to begin to test the design ideas.
Rebeka: I quite liked when we were talking before, like you said, bring images but don't feel under pressure that you've got the exact right image because you draw cues or it's too much effort to put that in. It's too much pressure to put those images together sometimes.
Lisa: That's the thing, I find the people I work with, they're time-poor because they're busy in their careers, with their professions and their families. They don't necessarily need to put themselves under a huge amount of pressure to prepare to speak to their architect. I think part of the expectation of the outcome of engaging an architect is that they lead you through that. You don't necessarily need to be giving them all the answers because you're really asking them to guide you through it.
Rebeka: It's kind of that relationship, isn't it? It's got to be give and take. If you were dictating to an architect the outcome, exactly what you want, well, then you shouldn't have engaged an architect maybe. I've never met an architect that wants to work under those situa- where it's predesigned.
Lisa: I think the value and the cost of the architect is probably compromised if you have a very clear vision and you're dictating or heavily directing the outcome. At the end of the day, we're ultimately trained to look at things in a different way and problem-solve. If that's the main value that we deliver, then there is benefit in sort of stepping back and seeing what can come out of that process. By the same token, it's a team effort to pull a building together of any sort. It takes many, many minds and skills and bodies and it's important for the architect and everyone involved to recognize that to get the best outcome.
Rebeka: I like that because you're designing it and you've got all the experience during all those cues but they're going to be living in a-- Not maybe right now, even for future generations and to have someone from your perspective go through all those different iterations of what may happen and just future problem-solving. On your behalf, it's nice as well.
Lisa: Children are small now and they will grow, they will bring their friends over, then they'll be teenagers and you might have stepped back from work by then. There's a way that the house needs to adapt to the way individuals and families grow and develop. You're usually not undertaking this process to move in and then move out quickly. If you're spending the money we're talking about here, you're typically planning on staying in that home for an extended period of time.
Rebeka: It's really nice to be able to have someone on your side and work with a team that's like, "Well, you're right. We're all busy doing what we're good at." I'm good at building but I'm not an architect. I like space so I can read the plan but I can't design it. I have tried both processes, I've tried heavily leading a draftsperson and doing it myself and I've used architects. I much prefer the outcomes that I get with architects because it does have that graduation of evolution of process and the spaces that are just so much more emotive, I guess.
Lisa: Yes, more refined and conceded and better developed. The circumstances where a draftsperson would be useful if it's simple or like we said before, if you've got a clear vision for it and you just need it drawn so you can communicate to a builder what you want to be built, that's perfectly valid, I guess in the scale of the builds that I get to do.
Rebeka: I've got to learn over a period of time and that's the thing. I have built a number of houses but it takes me a year to build a house or six months to a year to build a house. You're able to do so many more and see so much more and then draw out. You're using that breadth of experience.
Lisa: Yes, exactly, in different locations and facing different design challenges, and if it's a renovation, working with houses from different eras, in different states, on different sites. I'm designing my own home at the moment and it's on a site that I've never worked with before in terms of constraints and size and that's presenting a new challenge. I'm drawing on previous designs and builds that have had similar constraints to help work with those problems.
Rebeka: How do you find doing your own job as opposed to doing a client's job?
Lisa: It's interesting. It makes me appreciate my clients because there's someone to push back on some ideas. My husband is only interested in a few tiny details so he's no help there with the pushback and the aid in development. The benefit is that I can test things out quickly and it's me questioning them rather than going through the process of explaining and presenting and seeking feedback. There are pros and cons for sure, always pros and cons. It's fun though.
Rebeka: The pressure of doing your own job, you're like, "Huh."
Lisa: Like yourself, it's most likely not a forever home exercise. That does make it easier to sort of, "Okay, let's test this out and see how it goes and live with it." It's not going to be forever. That maybe helps relax things in terms of coming to conclusions and making decisions.
Rebeka: I think there's a niceness about that too because it's like actually, I'm able to push the boundaries because it's not as much pressure. It's not that someone else will live with that, it's that you're able to just, I guess, explore a bit better. If it doesn't work at some point, you can change it because it's your cost implication, not for someone else.
Lisa: Yes, exactly, when you really step back from it, it's probably not a make or break issue, it's just something you have gotten fixated or obsessed with.
Rebeka: Decided you want to try out different things, the thing.
Lisa: Yes, exactly.
Rebeka: If we wanted to find out more about how to get in touch with you or what type of projects you would like to take on-
Rebeka: -that'll be lisabreezearchitect.com.au?
Rebeka: Perfect. Thank you so much for running through, I guess, how do you use an architect and the benefits and your process as well because I find everyone's got like a slightly different process and there'll be a personality fit as well, which I find, because this is a relationship for what, a couple of years?
Lisa: Yes, at least two, minimum two.
Rebeka: There needs to be a nice relationship between you and your architect. If it's difficult to begin with, I find you're not going to get better in a stressful, a high pressure.
Lisa: Yes, exactly. It's really important and it's also really important when going through that, like we were talking about earlier, the tender process and pairing owner, client, architect and builder, that match of personalities is really critical there as well because it's a big team effort and ideally, we all get along.
Rebeka: Well, I actually feel like you get a much better outcome. I find there are people that are riskier. There are people who are more risk-averse, people that like to stamp the table and [crosstalk] some people but not everyone. Actually, I find this is quite a nice platform to get to know someone because you're basically having a conversation and testing out the water kind of thing.
Lisa: Getting an understanding of approach and attitude.
Rebeka: I find you'll be drawn to both the style and the personality ideally for a really beautiful fit and if that fits like a glove, then that's going to be a really pleasurable-
Lisa: Yes, definitely.
Rebeka: -experience. If it's forced and you're walking around in shoes that are too small-
Lisa: Yes, it's not good.
Rebeka: -it's just not going to be a fun three years.
Lisa: No. You probably only do this once or twice in your life. At least, that's the case for most of the people I work with. You not only want a great outcome at the end, but you want to enjoy the process and make the most of it.
Rebeka: I guess having that understanding of how long it's going to take and what it's going to look like and everything that goes through that will really help to put you at ease and make it as fun as possible.
Lisa: Yes, fun and smooth and enjoyable.
Rebeka: Well, thank you so much for joining us.
Lisa: Thank you for having me.
Rebeka: I hope you've all enjoyed this. I have loved talking to Lisa today. You got to check out or actually, go to her Instagram page and check out some of the images: beautiful, beautiful work. Bye for now. We'll see you next time.
Rebeka: Thanks for listening to Building with BuildHer. We'd love for you to spread the word. For show notes, links and downloads and other awesome resources and freebies, head to buildhercollective.com.au. Don't forget, that's BuildHer with an H-E-R.
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