Hiring the right architect is one of the most important aspects of any building project, whether you’re starting an individual complete self-build project, or simply look to get the best possible solution to a loft conversion. As a building company we always recommend our own trusted architects, however occasionally our clients like to use their own architects. The following guide is our take on how to choose and employ an architect and how to get the best out of the relationship.
Do you always need an architect?
A useful rule of thumb is if it’s a small project, single storey, that doesn’t need planning permission, you probably won’t need an architect. Recent reforms to the planning system have reduced the need for permission on simple home improvements, which means in some ways the requirement to have an architect has been reduced somewhat. However, employing an experienced architect who understands your home, and perhaps more importantly, understands you, will pay dividends in the long term.
An experienced architect will help you navigate the planning process and building regulations too. As planning applications get more and more complicated because planners have expanded their roles, planners are increasingly getting involved in minor matters that have little impact on the overall development but take time to resolve and need experience.
How to choose the right architect
Firstly check that they are registered with the Architect’s Registration Board (ARB, www.arb.org.uk) and industry body The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA, www.architecture.com). A good place to start is with RIBA’s listed practices, and ask your neighbours and friends in the local area. Architects get most of their work by word of mouth.
Ensure any architect you’re considering employing has experience with your type of property and also check how many completed projects they’ve actually been involved in. Ask them what their relationship is like with the local planning authority and ensure they have experience with successful projects with a track record of approvals, including for controversial or difficult schemes.
Keep the communication channels open
Time spent actually talking your project through at the very earliest stages with your chosen architect will pay massive dividends in the long run. This communication stage ensures your architectural firm knows exactly what you’re hoping to achieve with the project. In our experience, nearly all disputes between clients and their architects arise out of poor communication. Keeping these communication channels open throughout the span of the project will ensure everyone knows what is expected of them at all times.
If you do fall out with your architects, be open to talking to each other, thankfully only about 2% of all disputes end up as formal disputes that need to be resolved via adjudication or court cases.
At Wiggs we only work with people we trust and as such, we’ll only recommend contractors to our clients that we are capable of providing our customers with the best possible service and solutions. We’re happy to talk to you about your project in the early stages and connect you with an architect we are confident can help you.