Many of our customers ask as about: build new or renovate? What is better? And how can I find an architect I can trust?
I ask our partner in Greece, Jamie Anderson, owner of LOCI architects if he can help me provide some answer for our customers. Jamie is from Scotland and moved to Greece in 2003, having completed his architectural studies and his first few years of professional work experience in Edinburgh.
He started working as an architect within the first few months of arriving in Athens and within the first couple of years his focus was almost entirely on work in the region of Mani.
LOCI architects is an experienced architecture and design studio based in Mani and Athens that specialises in sustainable design and the renovation of private houses throughout Greece. In his studio there are interior designers and architects with international experience from Sweden, Greece, UK, Switzerland and Holland.
Each project is based on the belief that every place has its own set of forces and unique stimulation ranging from the local architecture and materials through to the surrounding terrain, climate and even culture and history of the area.
EK: Kalimera Jamie, so renovate or build?
JA: I think that the correct answer would be that it really depends on the specific situation. Most likely if someone is looking to live within a village then a renovation would likely be the most appealing, whereas if they are looking for more of an isolated retreat, then probably building from scratch is the way to go.
Obviously there are many other factors to consider such as the quality and size of the living spaces in older properties as well as possible damp or structural issue. All problems are of course surmountable, as long as you have the commitment and passion to do so, the extra effort that is required for a property renovation will be repaid many times over through the final result.
New build properties on the other hand are more often than not in more secluded locations and in these situations, rather than responding to the existing building and local architecture, the building needs to respond more directly with the surrounding nature such as the mountains, sea, views, orientation, sun/shade, winds, trees/planting etc.
This allows the building to sit as naturally as possible in its location as well as providing the freedom to tailor the design and sizes of the spaces to your specific needs.
EK: Should I be afraid to buy a house in Greece and renovate it or build a new house when I’m not in Greece during the building projects?
As long as all of the appropriate checks have been carried out prior to the purchase of the property then there should be nothing to be afraid of. We have built and renovated many houses in Mani and indeed throughout Greece over the past 15 years and we have adopted a variety of approaches with clients, depending on their needs.
In the majority of cases, our past clients have wanted to be involved in every step along the way and we have managed this with regular communication via email, blogs, skype etc. This helps to keep everyone up to date and informed regarding decisions and progress and eliminates the need for any worry.
EK: What should I think about when I hire an architect?
When hiring an architect, you are invariably entering into a long term relationship so I think that as with any relationship, communication is the key. This is essential during all stages to effectively communicate and conclude the design, budgets, timelines, supervision etc.
Apart from the communication, it is also a very good idea to see previous examples of work and even speak to past clients so that they can share their experiences. Any good architect is trained to and will try their best to interpret the needs of the client and to produce the best possible result. This is of course delicately balanced with the budget as well as with the existing land or property.