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Home > Housing > Ask an Architect Part 2: Is it Necessary to Employ Both an Architect & a Civil Engineer? & Who has the Final Say in a House’s Design?

Ask an Architect Part 2: Is it Necessary to Employ Both an Architect & a Civil Engineer? & Who has the Final Say in a House’s Design?

In our previous article, we sat down with architect Alister James Tabuso to answer some questions about their job in general, Filipino quirks when it comes to building a home, construction companies in the Philippines and more. Today, we are back to detail the rest of the interview and answer some more questions that baffle us as well as learn some industry secrets!


Do I need both an architect AND a civil engineer? Can’t I hire just one?


Short answer is, yes. You do need both of them. Ar. Tabuso couldn’t emphasize it out more that when building a house—or any structure for that matter—, the effort always has to be made by a team. In retrospect, that’s exactly why the professional fields of practice were divided into separate collegiate courses: they both specialize in different aspects of building. Filipinos tend to think that these two disciplines study one thing: construction. Albeit true in a sense, they study very different aspects of the same elements.


Where an architect is concerned with design, layout, functionality, and optimization for comfortable living, a civil engineer is concerned with how to build the structure, make it sound and ensure that it can be safely used, as well as supervise that the design is executed with fidelity without compromises to safety. Civil engineers are also the ones responsible for optimizing the layout or peripheral necessities of the house like a plumbing and pipe systems and how it connects to the community sewage or an electrical system that won’t overload, overheat, and explode.




That’s why it’s important to employ a team. Architects are more focused on the surface concerns: is the house beautiful? Was it laid out to be livable? Are activities easy to do inside it? How comfortable will the people in it be? Architects are concerned in the bigger picture of a comfortable living space. Civil engineers, on the other hand, ask questions focused on how the house operates: How long can a construction company in the Philippines build this? How much weight can the second floor take? Is there enough water pressure so that all bathrooms can be used at the same time? Can the foundation, materials, and fortifications of the building withstand a hurricane, flooding, minor fire, or earthquake?


What’s the Higher Design Priority: What the Client Desires or What the Architect Finds Feasible?


Like previously mentioned, it indeed takes a team to build and finish the construction of a home. Aside from the people involved in the actual construction of the building, the to-be owner is also part of the team. Of course, their initial vision, needs, and wants for the building are top priority. As professionals, it is in the architect’s responsibility to ensure the client’s best interest, and that includes the possibility that not everything the client wants might be good for him.


When it comes to having a final say, the process involves asking a series of question. What does the client want? Can it be done? If it can’t be done, is a compromise possible? According to Ar. Tabuso, some clients tend to be very stubborn even if you make it known that their desired design might have major flaws in them like a safety hazard or a layout redundancy. Ar. Tabuso says that, with these kinds of client who don’t respond well to counsel, they opt to decline on said projects mostly because a design flaw that they never intended could forever compromise the integrity of their entire portfolio.




Most Filipinos have this notion that architects and engineers are there to execute what they want, exactly how they want it. They have the tendency to think that the responsibility of architects and engineers is to merely carry out what they want, which brings us back to our first point: the client is a part of the team. The ideal scenario for any construction company in the Philippines to harmoniously build anything is for the client to WORK WITH the team instead of having the team merely WORK FOR the client. Collaboration and compromise are the keys. Because of this, corporate contracts with companies, in Ar. Tabuso’s case, Pancake House, tend to be easier because as long as the design is well thought out, they’re willing to leave most things up to the pros.


In the next installment, we get some intel on a secret feud that has been going on for quite some time now raging just right in front of our doorstep. If you have interesting question for our architect, leave us a comment and we’ll feature your question in our next articles.

Property Input
Property Input is a real estate blog in the Philippines that talks about home, housing, lot, real estate, & property news, tips, and trends. Get the input you need on real estate here.

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