The aim is to provide a brief guide that will assist you in choosing the right architect for your project:
- Search the RIBA Directory of Chartered Practices or use the RIBA’s ‘Find An Architect Service’.
- Be aware that not all companies that provide drawings for planning applications are architects. Law protects the title ‘Architect’. Only those registered with the Architect’s Registration Board are legally allowed to call themselves architects.
- Keep up to date with both web and paper magazines such as Dezeen, Homebuilding & Renovating and Grand Designs, and save projects that you like.
- Look at architect’s websites. Choose a short list of people whose work you admire. Don’t expect an architect to design something that is not in their design language.
- Keep a scrapbook of projects you like, note the architect.
- Decide whether you want to use large company or a micro-practice. What is important to you, an established supply of resources or dealing with an experienced person from start to finish?
- Does the company you are looking at have a proven track record with your kind of project?
- Approach architects for an initial chat about your project.
- Increasingly your architect does not need to be located in the area of your build as long as they are able to travel to the site, which most are.
- Expect to budget for around 8-14% of your construction budget for a full service. Don’t try to scrimp on fees. If you cannot afford the fees for a full service, speak to your architect about other options.
- It will be worth it. Designing a building takes time and commitment. Architects receive a lot of education and training before they can practise. They are experts with space.
- It might sound obvious, but make sure you like your architect. You will be working with them closely over a sustained period.
- Be upfront about budget and programme. Most architects will have a rough idea of what a project costs in any case, they will quickly know if your expectations are realistic.
- Trust your architect’s vision. Architects have a feel for what will look and feel good and work well.
Finally, talking about design is an exciting process, so please enjoy the journey.