Dublin firm matches homeowners planning refurbs with architects online

Archly, dubbed ‘Uber for architects’, can enable design projects to advance despite coronavirus restrictions

Archly arranges video consultations for homeowners planning renovations. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archly arranges video consultations for homeowners planning renovations. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

A Dublin firm describing itself as “Uber for architects” is enabling homeowners to plan a renovation despite the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Archly (pronounced ark-ly) offers an online platform that pairs homeowners with architects and designers who then give a tailored consultation by video conference.

Architectural technologist Jonathan Reinhardt founded the company last year to connect homeowners with architects and designers, regardless of their location. He came up with the idea after having worked in architects’ practices where video meetings with clients in different cities or countries were common and worked well.

The platform is now allowing homeowners to proceed with planning and designing a renovation, despite social distancing measures. “It’s a no contact experience. You don’t have to go to someone’s house and no one has to leave their house to attend the meeting,” says Reinhardt.

Homeowners fill out a form on Archly.ie indicating if they want an extension, a renovation or a one-off house. They can request ideas, design services, assistance with planning permission or a more general consultation. Archly then assesses the brief and seeks more information if not already provided, such as photos, video, measurements, previous drawings and the homeowner’s own ideas.

Users of the service are then offered a choice of 10 architects and design professionals, local, national or international, one of which they choose to meet by video consultation.

Consultation cost

The video conference costs the client between €100 and €150 for an hour, with the architects setting their price. Clients can then proceed to engage the architect in the project or not. If the client does proceed, the consultation cost is deductible from the architect’s fee.

“The more information you submit, the more the architect can be prepared and the more you will get out of the online consultation,” says Reinhardt.

“On the video call, potential clients can walk around their house with the architect or home designer and show them the problem areas. It could be a kitchen layout or you may want some feedback on early design plans.” Architects are not obliged to provide drawings after the meeting, but some can issue a sketch based on the meeting.

To support architects impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Archly has waived its monthly subscription fee for architects and is taking no commission on the consultations.

“Business is picking up, we are getting a lot more inquiries in the last two weeks and we are expecting to get a lot busier,” says Reinhardt.

“People are spending more time at home now and they are actually thinking about the space they are in. Our homes can feel quite transitional; we are usually moving through them, going to work or bringing the kids to school. Now we are spending more time there, people are starting to think differently about how they work.”