How to Select the best architect for Cooperative Housing at NewTown, Kolkata (under NKDA)

Updated: May 31

by Ar. Abhishek Dutta, Principal Architect, ArcOn Design

“We shape our buildings; thereafter it shapes us.” - Winston Churchill

When you had applied for a plot to WBHIDCO or WB Housing Board, you probably had not expected too much from it,  may just have responded to a few friends call and agreed. Now, that years passed by, and you are ready with your plan to move to New Town, Kolkata, where, at least on the face of it, basic Urban Infrastructure looks to be in place. As you are confused and do not know whom to look for the proper guidance. (& the architect who actually can steer the ship is yet to be appointed) you probably are heading to your Accountant or Advocate to guide you with a typical and grossly inadequate format for asking quotation from architects,  (For the selection of architect no tender process is needed as same for selection of doctor or the advocate, who may be guiding you on the format right now)

Choosing your architect is not a decision to be taken lightly. The architect you select will be the brains behind your project, he/she must be an invaluable problem solver, a good listener, and the one keeping your budget on track.

Architecture, by the nature of the business, is a service-based profession. Architects provide design services and typically bundle other administrative, planning, and construction services into their fee. Each architecture firm is structured differently, has varied design aesthetic preferences, and is skilled at different subsets of the profession. While not exhaustive here are a few thoughts to use as a starting point to get the candidate that’s right for you and your house.

Why typical quotation based selection doesn’t work:

Architects’ fees typically vary from 1.5% to 7.5% (min. 5% as per Council of Architecture, Govt. of India guidelines) of actual project cost depending on the complexity and size of a project and architect’s scope in it. For Multi-family residential projects, 2.5%-4% is more of a rational figure including the structural design, basic services design, and periodic supervision. (while in New Town one can find a few firms working even below 1 % which implies that the firm is surely not design-oriented and maybe going to sell you one of their typical ready-made solutions, or, maybe looking for other, perhaps unethical, avenues to ensure the profit). For the selection of architect thus never go for the lowest bidder as to minimize fees one have to customized service thus, the project eventually be costing much more or end-up with poor quality design, than a properly designed house which is more often than not the biggest investment of your whole life.