Choosing an architect

Whether its a two storey extension or the house of your dreams, nothing is more important than getting the design right when it comes to your home. The design stage of your property is likely to take a large chunk of your project’s budget and time, so getting it right is crucial.

Your project should be steered by the Architect and not the build. It’s easy to make mistakes on a self build and you don’t want to get locked into a construction agreement before considering the building design with a qualified, independent professional. An architect will have one of the most significant impacts on your project, so how do you choose the right one?

Know what you want

Getting the brief right is key. How many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, what’s non-negotiable and what elements are crucial for you in the design of your home. Knowing that will make choosing the right architect for you a much simpler process.

There is a wealth of advice on the internet about how to choose an architect for your project which includes speaking to local contractors and tradespeople and asking for their recommendations. You can also speak to people who you may know who have had work done recently. Who did they use and did they like them.

Things you may want to ask

During the life of your project and out of all tradesmen and professionals involved in your project it is the architect you will be communicating with the most. At every stage of the design and build it is essential that you have a good working relationship to ensure the success of the project. Bearing all that in mind you need to take many factors into consideration when choosing your architect including:
● Do you like their previous work?
● Do you get on with them?
● Do they have professional indemnity insurance
● What is included in the cost of their services?
● Will they secure planning and building regulation approval?
● If changes to design are required to secure planning permission willyou have to pay more?
● Do they respect your budget?
● Agree a budget and payment terms in return for services provided and sign a contract.

Those are the fundamentals that you will need to cover. The relationship you have with your architect is a serious and long term commitment and much like a marriage, get it wrong and it could end up costing you.

Ask these 3 questions

These are crucial but often overlooked and you need to ask them before you say “I do” to your architect:

1. Have they worked in your area or local authority before?

architect and drawings

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

You need to know if your architect has experience with the local planning department and an understanding of any local by-laws which may affect your build.

Do they have an understanding of whether local materials need to be acquired and used in the design of your build to stay in keeping with the rest of the locality?

2. What is their approval rate for

It’s all well and good employing an architect who can design beautiful spaces that fits your brief like a glove but if you can’t get approval to get the thing built you’ve wasted a lot of time and cash.

Your architect may have a penchant for energy neutral builds made from completely recycled materials but that’s not going to go down well in a little village in the Cotswolds.

 3. Check their availability and

new windows in a new build home

Photo by Jessy Smith on Unsplash

Building projects require a level of planning and logistical prowess that seemingly defies the imagination. Balancing the fragile and sensitive timelines of builds, tradesmen and the weather is a fine art.

Check beforehand what your preferred architects availability and expected completion time for the design of your build is and how that sits with the rest of your project. The design process alone can take up to 6 weeks. Take into consideration the time needed to secure planning approval, any changes that may be needed to secure planning permission. Local authorities are not traditionally renowned for their speed in these matters.

Get it right first time

Working with someone who understands what you are trying to create and who will work with you to help your dreams become reality is what everyone is looking for in an architect and if you follow my guide you should be a lot closer to finding that person for your project.

When you need help matching the beauty of your building on the inside and creating an interior that fully completes your aspirations of the beautiful space you have created then make sure you come back to me where I can provide a truly bespoke commissioned painting or sculpture that will complete your vision.

From large statement pieces to external sculptures to add a finishing touch to the landscape, contact me so we can discuss your individual needs.

And here’s a company I would wholly recommend if you’re looking for an architect’s practice where quality, innovation and vision are paramount. Take a look at Studio Spicer Architects. I am not affiliated with them – they’re just plain awesome. Ask for James Livesey and mention me!

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