How To Choose An Architect
What type of architect do I need?
An architect can work on any kind of building – blocks of flats, offices, new build houses, sports stadiums etc so it’s important to make sure that your prospective architect has experience working for homeowners. There are a lot of challenging aspects at the lower value end of construction – dealing with the local authority, planning policies, builders, building inspectors so your architect needs to have a thorough understanding of these challenges and be confident in their ability in the homeowner scale of the market.
Are they registered with the Architects Registration Board?
All architects must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Anyone can do the work of an architect – surveyors, engineers, anyone that has the skills to prepare and submit planning applications, and create documentation to build your extension can carry out the work of an architect but they cannot call themselves an architect.
If you see variations of the word ‘architect’ being used, such as ‘architectural’ or other slightly adapted job titles, then these people are probably not registered architects. Employing someone who is not a registered architect does not necessarily mean their standard of work won’t be high. However, it is worth bearing in mind that they won’t be obligated to follow the ARB code of conduct and you will have limited rights if something were to go wrong at any stage.
If your ‘architect’ is calling themselves an architect and they’re not registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB), then this is a criminal offense and you should inform the ARB. (Architects do not need to be registered with the Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA) which is a members club that promotes excellence in architecture)
Are they familiar with the local planning policy and what will be generally accepted by the council?
Every borough/council is generally the same, but there are minor variations and sometimes it’s just half a meter here and there and slightly different policies. Because of these slight variations (which can mean the difference between whether the work comes under permitted development or requires planning permission) it’s best to get a local architect or an architect who works in that borough. At Yoop Architects, we work in about six to seven boroughs. So for example, we don’t work in south London, we just look after North London and north home counties because we understand those local authorities – we deal with them all the time, we know all the guidance and the policies and also generally what will be acceptable by that council.
Ask the architect questions –
- How long have they been in business?
- What kind of work have they done previously?
- Do they have references?
- Do they have the necessary Professional Indemnity Insurance?
- How will they communicate with you and how often?
Think about –
- Do you like their style?
- Do they understand what you’re trying to achieve and why you’re trying to achieve it?
A good designer will seek to create a design that works with the house and make as few modifications and extensions as possible that still achieve the clients requirements.
- Are they trying to push ideas/suggestions that you don’t like?
- Do they respect your budget?
- Do they have good formal communication and documentation?
A good architect should have a formal quote document with terms and conditions, what their job role does/does not include, who will be responsible for what, who pays what fees and when etc
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