Can A Professional Designer Reduce Your Risks?

How The Mughal Emperor Can Reduce Your Design Risks

20,000 workers. Twenty-two years to complete. No mean feat. It was commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. His love for his wife Mumtaz was great.

So great in fact, that when she died in 1631, he ordered construction of the most beautiful mausoleum on Earth in her memory, The Taj Mahal.

The finest sculptors, masons, craftsmen, and calligraphers were called from Persia, Ottoman Empire and Europe. A creative team no less than 37 professional designers and architects. Such was the expectation for the creation of one of the wonders of the world.

You don’t have to go to this extent to create your own little wonder. Or to show your love for that matter. But, the least you could do, is to use a Professional Designer.

So who is a professional designer

A professional designer is someone that can design stuff and is suitably qualified to do so. You’d normally assume that this person has some professional qualifications or affiliations.

But prepare to be surprised. Personally, I would check their credentials. And so should you.

Do you always check that your doctor has a degree or any professional affiliations

You don’t. Why? Because they operate(ahem) out of a professional office with a receptionist and some other important looking staff.

But what if your doctor had an office in his back garage? Would you be worried? I would.

Because a doctor needs specialist equipment and support staff. These are the necessary tools of his trade.

Does that mean someone that doesn’t have a fancy office or professional qualifications, can’t be a professional?

Well it depends…

Do you know that the creative team for the Taj Mahal, had no ‘professional’ qualifications. So did that make them useless? Not quite. Because they were all suitably qualified.

So what’s the difference

-Shah Jahan had an army of people searching, researching and interviewing suitable design candidates

-there weren’t any council or government rules to follow. He was the Emperor after all

-there weren’t any weathertightness issues

-there wasn’t any risk of getting your pants sued off you

Well, you sort of get the picture.

Ok, lets roll the chariot to the 21st century

  • There are many, many, rules and regulations to follow. And these keep changing all the time. Only a professional will have the industry affiliations to keep abreast of changes.
  • You. Yes YOU, as the owner have a personal liability of 10 years to your project Even if you sell it. Yes it’s harsh, I know. That means that if any significant issues (design or construction) crop up, you could be taken to the cleaners
  • You might not have so much as picked up a pencil or a hammer or even been to site during construction. It does not matter. You are still in the firing line when the proverbial hits the fan.

There’s two ways to deal with the risks

You could have an ambulance waiting at the bottom of the cliff OR

You could choose not to get close to the cliff …and personally, I don’t like ambulances 🙂

Five Easy Steps to minimise your risk

(Note minimise, not remove. Just thought I’d make that clear.)

Step 1 – Use suitably qualified professionals (a degree in physical education doesn’t count)

Step 2 – Check credentials (which institution has issued the qualification? Is it even recognised in your country/state?)

Step 3 – Check affiliations (see links below)

Step 4 – Check insurances (professional indemnity/public liability)

Step 5 – Use suitably qualified professionals (a degree in nursing doesn’t count)

Save my kingdom

Check the local architectural/design/engineering organisations in your country/state. For New Zealand, these are the primary ones:

New Zealand Institute of Architects ; Architectural Designers NZ Inc

Institute of Professional Engineers NZ

If you’ve engaged someone to undertake any design work for you, make sure you run through the five steps above. It may not help you build the Taj Mahal, but it darn well will make sure you don’t lose your kingdom…or even a chariot.

Sanjesh Lal is a Chartered Engineer, Master Builder and the director of Award Winning Design and Build company, Keola. Visit: For any building/contractual related queries, email: [email protected]



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