12 tips for choosing an architect

Choosing an architect is a crucial part of any building project. Making sure you have the right architect to design your extension or loft conversion is essential. They need to understand the local authority planning rules and regulations and know the latest building regulations required. If they don’t, their design might be great, but if it can’t be built, your money is wasted, so it often makes sense to choose an architect who is familiar with your locality.

The Architects Registration Board (ARB) hold the Register of architects in the UK and RIBA, RIAI and RIAS are the professional bodies.  Architects must be registered with ARB in the UK and can elect to be a member of one of the above mentioned professional bodies if they choose to in order to acquire a Chartered status.  For more information visit the architects register. 

Before you talk to architects make sure you really understand what you want from the space you are creating. Do you want it just to be ordinary rooms with one use or multi-functional rooms which can be used as a guest room or study? Think about whether the use you have now for the rooms will be the same in the future or whether the use will change perhaps as children grow up or you retire.

Things to consider:

  • Check with local builders and tradespeople if they know a good architect they have worked with before.
  • Source two to three architects to contact, they should visit you initially for free to discuss the project.
  • Make sure they have created designs for extensions and conversions in the area of your local authority,  ask what their approval rate is for submissions and speak to local building control surveyors.
  • Secure in writing that they have full knowledge of planning permission and building regulations (or standards) in your local authority.
  • Let the architect know what your budget is, minimum and maximum for the build, explain whether this includes decoration or additional features such as a bathroom suite or kitchen.
  • Check what services the architect will supply. Will they secure planning and building regulation approval? If changes to design are required to secure approval, will you have to pay extra? Make sure they have professional indemnity insurance.
  • Find out how many visits to your property are required to finalise the design and/or project manage the build.
  • Some architects are great at design but don’t have the experience of managing tradespeople, check previous projects and secure references and feedback from clients and trade.
  • Agree a budget, ideally fixed, for designing the additional space.
  • Always meet with the architect at your property to ensure they understand the details of your build.
  • Ensure you sign a contract with the architect, agreeing payment terms in return for the services they offer.
  • Explain to the architect whether you want the extra space to be in keeping with your current style, more modern or traditional.
10 important things to know at the start of a project

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