Choosing an architect

How do I choose an architect?

It’s important to find an architecture firm that is respected and can ensure the success of your project. Choosing the wrong one can be painful and expensive.

How do I shortlist architects?

The number of varying job titles with an architect can be misleading. If you’re searching for an architect to complete a larger project, you’d usually require a Registered Architect. Smaller home improvements would typically be handled by Architects and Architectural Technicians. You should consider these factors when shortlisting:

  • Are they a chartered architect? You may prefer this – chartered architects are bound by a strict professional code meaning they have to act honourably, efficiently and independently.
  • What type of architect are they? Do you need someone to execute your specific idea, or someone more creative to bring your space to life?
  • What level of service do you need? Are you looking for creative designs to get planning permission and determine budget, do you need full architectural plans, or do you need someone to oversee the entire process until completion?
  • Do you live in a listed building? If you do, you’ll want an architect with experience of them.
  • Are you likely to run into problems with planning permission or building control? If so, it’s a good idea to shortlist architects that are familiar with local planning policies, and can show a record of successful applications.
  • Are you worried about budget? If yes, get an architect who is good at managing costs and doesn’t keep trying to push expensive extras.
How do I choose an architect?

Once you have found a shortlist of architects, make sure they’re available for your project. Then provide them with a brief and arrange interviews. The ideal journey for selecting an architect is done through these steps:

  1. Give each architect the brief of the work you’d like to be done, a rough budget and ask them if it is the sort of work they do, and whether they’re available to do it. Try to be as clear and precise as possible.
  2. Aim to meet at least three architects to discuss the project.
  3. View their portfolio, visit their website, and ask to talk to current clients.
  4. Make sure you like their style – different architects have different feels.
  5. Check how they engage and communicate with you; do you feel confident you can work well with them?
  6. Directly ask them about their fees. Different architects charge not just different amounts, but in varying ways, i.e. by the hour, a flat rate fee, and as a percentage of the total build costs; with upfront payment to cover initial design work. If your shortlisted architects give very different fees, ask them to explain the costs.
  7. Find out what they level of involvement will be. How much detailing will they do? For example, will they design where the walls will be but not where the electrical sockets will be located?

If you’ve got an architecture project you’d like to discuss, please feel free to get in touch with us.

(READ MORE: Planning permission: the complete guide)

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