News & Insights

Dimitty: Resi V Commercial

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in the residential sector compared to commercial?

I caught up with Dimitty Andersen of Grieve Gillett Andersen this week to ask her the advantages and disadvantages of working in the residential sector of the architectural industry.

Dimitty worked/studied in San Francisco, traveled through Europe, and later lived in London before getting into architecture and starting her own consultancy, all before she turned 30!25 years on, Dimitty has been a Director at GGA for five years since merging her residential focused business with leading commercial design firm Grieve Gillett.

Her response…

Advantages of working on residential architectural projects

1.You have an immediate, intimate relationship with the client in residential.

2. You get to explore design options that you might not easily get in commercial and use your experience as an R&D (research and development) opportunity ie to explore different cladding types or window systems

3. Residential clients have an invested interest in the outcomes of their projects – you get to learn about finance, communication and what the true costs of your designs are on projects

4. You’re accountable for EVERYTHING so you get immediate feedback. This helps your personal development, which although can be intimidating also can be refreshing as you learn quickly through client feedback

5. You learn how to collaborate with builders and make them your ally!

6.The client is not always talking about the potential resale value so the focus is on quality, longevity, and lifestyle. In comparison to commercial which is commonly driven by cost, value management, and strict timeframes.

7. The experience gained in designing for residential gives an architecture professional the opportunity to build confidence to translate later in your career, should you wish to move to larger or community-oriented, commercial type projects in the future

Disadvantages of working on residential architectural projects

1. Not everyone enjoys the intimacy with a client as it can expose all your faults, so you do need a certain level of self-confidence or resilience to manage the constructive or sometimes not constructive feedback.

2. You may feel like you’re not contributing to the “greater good” of the community or sharing your skills with a broader client demographic.

3. You may want to try your hand at bigger projects and work in larger teams which is difficult to initiate from a small practice with a single residential focus.

Some of the challenges of residential versus commercial are that the systems need to be more nimble in residential. Commercial is typically more risk-sensitive, requires more compliance within the risk management process which needs to be understood and learnt.

For more on this checkout or give Andrew a call to discuss your career options on 0431744823. GGA is currently looking for a Head of Residential!

The residential architectural sector is extremely busy in Adelaide, with many companies looking for staff with design skills. Let’s hope this demand continues into 2021! With somewhere between 70-100 thousand South Australians returning to SA during Covid, that could mean many more new projects if some of them decide to stay and build or renovate. 2021 could be an amazing time to be in residential design and gain valuable experience!