Should I Use an Architect?
As a rule of thumb, if your project needs planning permission, you’ll probably require the services of an architect. The extent of the work you commission, however, is in your hands – and depends largely on the scale and complexity of the scheme.
Your architect can guide you through the entire process, whether it’s a new build or extension, from concept and design through to completion.
Good design will add to the value of your home, ensuring your budget is used to maximum effect. Architects are highly skilled professionals who can navigate their way through complex planning rules (link to planning services), building regulations, and contractual obligations, and ensure the work is professionally done.
Planning authorities expect to see high quality design in support of applications, and cutting costs in favour of basic designs could be to your detriment. The Government advises planners to reject poorly designed schemes which fail to improve the character of an area.
According to Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud: “A good architect actually pays for themselves – more than once. You will reap the reward and the building will be highly better and deliver much better value for it.”
How to choose an architect
The relationship between you and your architect is crucial and it’s essential that you take time to make the right choice for you and your project. Your choice of architect should never be determined by cost; rather by the quality of service they provide.
The importance of having mutual trust, a good rapport and understanding of the client’s needs, and good two-way communication between the two of you cannot be overstated.
Here’s some helpful tips:
- Shortlist three or four architects in your area. A good place to start is the Architect Registration Board (http://www.arb.org.uk/), which keeps the official register of all architects in the UK. Only people registered by the ARB are legally permitted to use the name ‘architect’ in business or practice.
- Research the services they provide and the type of projects they’ve been involved with. Does their experience match your vision?
- Arrange to meet at least three on your shortlist.
- Ask to see their portfolios and, if practical, visit a couple of their other schemes.
- Follow up references and speak to local builders and other tradespeople. Few things beat a personal recommendation.
Once you’ve chosen your architect, you need to set the parameters of the brief and draw up a contract. Clarity on both sides is key. Discuss the fees, which might be charged by the hour, as a flat rate, or a percentage of the build cost. Remember that you’ll need to stick to the brief once it’s agreed; chopping and changing through the build is a recipe for disaster.
This blog is provided by Laurence Associates