Before engaging an architect, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what an architect does and how their skills and experience will benefit you.
You cannot legally call yourself an Architect unless you have degree-level training (5 years) and a minimum of 2 years of practical training affiliated with an architectural practice. Professional residential architects are responsible for the planning, design and construction of a building or extension. They collaborate with other professionals such as construction companies, quantity surveyors, structural engineers, and planning and heritage consultants and have a full understanding of building regulations.
We would advise you to look for a fully qualified and registered Architect with the ARB (Architects Registration Board, which regulates the profession) and a member of RIBA. The ARB and RIBA set the standards of ethics and best practice within architecture.
Do you need planning permission?
You will need Planning Permission if you want to build something new, make a major structural change such as an extension, or change the use of your building – from residential to retail, or from residential to commercial. Obtaining the correct Planning Permissions, and other permissions you may need if your building is Listed or in a Conservation Area, is a key stage in your project process and it is advisable to seek an architect who has expert experience within this field, especially with Heritage properties.
Do I need an Architect or a Designer?
Some minor interior projects such as installing a new kitchen or a fitted wardrobe in a bedroom do not require Planning Permission as you are not structurally altering the building or changing its exterior.
You are not legally obliged to use an architect, however, it has wide-reaching benefits and does give you peace of mind in ensuring that your planned work will not interfere with the structural integrity of the existing building. If your building is Listed, you should always engage an architect. If you overlook a neighbouring property, or if you’re remodelling space inside your home, an architect will be worth the money.
Do I need to use an architect for the full process, or just at the beginning for the designs and getting planning permission?
As the client, you drive the process at all times. Sometimes we are engaged up to the Planning or Building Regulations stage, and at other times we produce the initial concept design and technical design and oversee the construction of the entire project. Some clients choose to manage the construction and site management themselves and the architect will make site visits to check progress, which is normally charged at an hourly rate.
Please click here to read more about the most frequently asked questions we hear as Architects.