Since moving to Russell in 2000 I have engaged Otto Suri on a succession of building projects, both residential and commercial.
1. Extension of decks and installation of spa pool at 15 Oneroa Road, Russell
2. Redesign and extension to conservatory of lounge at 15 Oneroa Road
3. Complete redesign, renovation and extension of 13 Oneroa Road developed as a rental holiday house, “Terracotta Gardens”.
4. Replacement and redesign of carport at 13 Oneroa Road
5. Concept plans for residential developments at “Ikaroa Landing” on Waikare inlet
6. Redesign and extension of the South Sea Art gallery building in York Street, Russell.
In all these projects I have been very impressed and delighted with the concepts Otto has produced and the results of their implementation. In the course of all this work we have become close friends and I have utmost faith in Otto’s integrity and conscientiousness as well as his professional and artistic skills.
I am very happy to recommend him to other prospective clients and to show them some of the projects we have completed.
We are from England and constrained by the immigration rules to a maximum of six months each year. We bought the house in April 2011. The pictures show the before and after for our house in Russell. Before we had a run down two bedroom house with one bathroom. After we have a four bedroom house with three bathrooms, a garage we can drive up to and a study. The design was done by Otto Suri. The main issues were decided in an intense three week period during which Otto developed a wide range of options from which we selected the one which suited us best.
We then had to return to England to leave Otto to turn the agreed outline into detailed plans and engineering drawings and then to obtain the necessary consents from the Local Government Planners. During this time we were kept closely informed with copies of the detailed plans as they developed and were able to debate and make changes as the work progressed. The site is on a headland which has been subject to land slip and the Planners were particularly demanding over the engineering support. On our return in November 2012, the consents had been obtained and we were able, with Otto’s help, to finalise the contract with the builder for work to start after Christmas 2012.
We made it very clear both to Otto and the builder that Otto was in charge of the design and that any changes to the specification would come from Otto. Similarly Otto was in charge of the finances and I would only make payment on his approval. This clarity worked very well because in March, two months after the work started, we again returned to England.
There was one major unknown on the site when we had to leave and that was what would be found behind a retaining wall under the house. Until much of the under house had been excavated and stabilised it was not possible to make safely this discovery. The size and shape of the bathrooms and attached bedrooms depended on what was found.
Again Otto kept us closely in touch, by email and photographs, identifying necessary design changes and we felt confident in agreeing to what was required after some email and phone discussion. When we returned in November 2013 the work on the house was virtually complete although much of the outside work remained to be done. We were delighted with what had been achieved and the way in which our wishes had been interpreted into the house. There were some serious practical problems with local sub-contractors, which had been solved without us being bothered – a real benefit of being away with a trusted architect in charge.
In summary we had an excellent high quality result from our substantial project. The design was a complicated three dimensional puzzle where until Otto became involved we had failed to find a solution. Much of the work was carried out in our absence and we had confidence, which was fully justified, that we did not need to be on site. Costs were well controlled and we recognised, or initiated, the need for variations.
This was the first time we had used an architect for a building project. We enjoyed the interplay between our ideas and Otto’s and sometime had active debate before reaching a conclusion. This was always done with good humour. Now that we have lived in the house for a further year we have come to appreciate many of the details designed by Otto where we let him have his way without being fully convinced.
Otto also had an excellent relationship with the builder. A large rehabilitation project inevitably throws up issues, which need resolution between architect and builder. Such issues were resolved rapidly with the client’s interest being foremost.
Otto was engaged by us to provide full architectural services for our project which involved substantial refurbishment and extension to our dwelling as detailed below. He successfully managed our project from conceptual design through to the current stage of practical completion.
Otto has done an excellent job of designing and managing our project and we have enjoyed working with him. Accordingly Rosie and I will strongly support any efforts to recommend his services to other clients.
During the course of both the design and execution stages Otto has promptly, clearly and concisely communicated design and commercial matters with me in spite of the fact that I was working in Azerbaijan and only able to visit Russell on a sporadic basis.
Otto consistently demonstrated a professional approach to solving technical and commercial issues (which were caused by others). The most significant issue that he dealt with came about as a result of error made during the original site survey. Due to the elevated and sloping nature of our section, the errors rippled through to constructability issues which required urgent structural design rework. Otto worked diligently with the builder, engineer and ourselves to successfully resolve this issue. I believe that without Otto’s professionalism and interpersonal skills our project schedule could have easily stalled for a significant period.
Details of Architectural Services provides by Otto Suri:
1. Project initiation: Established conditions of engagement for architect and other consultants.
2. Pre-design: Gathered relevant information including existing drawings from Council archives such as topographic, site services and climatic conditions.
3. Design stages: Otto developed design solutions to meet our brief in terms of both function and costs. He responded to our requirements to incorporate the existing house into the new wing while providing a design that is aesthetically pleasing and consistent with our lifestyle. The design stage cumulated in the resource consent being approved by the Territorial Authority.
4. Co-ordination of consultant: Otto integrated engineering systems into his design from the beginning. The engineer detailed the structural scope, according to the architectural design and his documents for building consent were checked and found correct. Unfortunately it was only afterwards that he changed his drawings, without clear communication to the architect or to myself. This led to another issue for which Otto successfully negotiated a solution.
5. Contract documentation: Otto produced an accurate, consistent and complete set of construction documents, consisting of working drawings, specification and condition of contract based on the NZS 3915:2005. Consequently a building consent was issued by Council.
6. Contract procurement: Otto initiated and followed the tendering procedures and contract negotiation with integrity. He provided clear and concise assessments which allowed us to engage the winning contractor.
7. Contract administration: the project was successfully constructed and the contract administered to its conclusion. Each payment milestone was checked and presented by Otto in a precise and timely manner. We have now reached practical completion and have moved in. The defects liability period will terminate at the end of December and the final claim & account are expected to be closed by the end of February.