Professions Surrounding Architecture
Have an architecture project? While an architect will be a key partner for your building project, your project may also require the involvement of various other professionals. Architects often work with a range of different experts in fields such as design, engineering, construction and urban planning, and some even have multiple qualifications themselves. Read on to find out more about the different professions related to architecture.
Architect is a protected title in the UK, and anyone who uses it to practice architecture must be qualified and registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Architects are responsible for planning and designing building projects and developments, whether for new builds or to alter or refurbish an existing building. An architect takes into account not only the aesthetic appearance of a building, but also a plethora of factors including its functional quality and use and its environmental and urban impact.
While architects are highly-trained and specialised professionals with expertise in the different phases of a building project, architects naturally don’t handle each of these phases on their own. They also rely on numerous other professionals, such as construction professionals to execute the architectural design, those who take on the more practical aspects of the build in order to transform the project from a design on paper into a concrete reality.
Today, many architects also serve as project managers as well, to oversee the project from start to finish. Project management involves coordination and organization between all the other professionals involved in the project, requiring a wide range of knowledge encompassing all the different stages of the build, in order to make sure it’s a success. One image that you can use to imagine the process is comparing the project manager to a GP - they don’t necessarily have to be able to resolve each and every potential problem in the construction process on their own, but what they do need to be able to do is collaborate and communicate with other specialised professionals in order to resolve any problems which may have arisen.
An architect, naturally, has to work with builders in order to get the project off the ground. They will invariably have a network of dependable contractors with which they work on a general basis, whom they have known for a number of years and have repeatedly proven themselves to be competent and reliable. Architects will always work with established builders who have a good reputation in the local area, so if you have your architect choose contractors and tradesmen on your behalf you can be sure that they’re trustworthy and have a proven track record of success. This is the same case for any plumbers, electricians or gas fitters that the project may require throughout its course.
In addition to contractors, architects also work alongside structural engineers on a case-by-case basis as the project requires. Engineers are skilled professionals who will work with the architect to make sure that the structure of the property is sound, and to see if any reinforcement needs to be made to the existing structure. This may be the case if you are looking to construct a large-scale extension to an older, existing structure, for example. It may also happen if you are carrying out renovation or redesign works that involve moving heavy items such as kitchen appliances into an area of the property which was not originally designed to carry their weight. Structural engineers are first and foremost responsible for ensuring that a building is safe and durable, focusing on the physical integrity of the building and making sure that it will be capable of handing the forces it will be exposed to. These engineering professionals have an in-depth background and extensive education in materials and their different strengths, and will generally have carried out a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, and then specialise in structural engineering more specifically at the master’s level. Again, an architect in a given area will generally have a structural engineer they trust and regularly work with, to make sure that your construction project will go off without a hitch.
Planning permission can be complex, with evolving legislation and regulations and the specific challenges involved in your property, neighbouring properties and your goals for your building project. Obtaining planning permission can require an expert understanding of how to navigate the politics and administrative procedures surrounding local planning, and it can help to bring in a professional. Planning consultants offer extensive experience in these processes and dealing with local authorities, and can provide valuable insight on how to maximise your application’s chances of approval. For a complex project, it’s best to bring in a planning consultant as early as possible in the process, as it generally becomes increasingly difficult to succeed in obtaining permission after an initial refusal. In some cases, you may additionally need to bring in a legal expert as well if your development poses legal concerns.
Many architects also specialise in planning consultancy, and are experienced in liaising with local councils as well as services such as providing feasibility studies or impact studies. For many projects, your architect will be the best person to help you navigate the planning application process and relevant permits you may be required to hold in order to carry out your construction project. This involves interacting with the planning authority attached to your local council, and making sure that the construction project will not markedly change the overall look of the neighbourhood, as well as making sure that the new building will not have an adverse affect on those living in the surrounding area. If you are looking to renovate or extend a listed building, you may also need to request permission to make sure that the changes you make to the structure are appropriate to preserve its historical character, which may be of important cultural significance to the local area. If you’re looking to build a property in a conservation area or other types of protected land such as an AONB, there may be additional factors to take into account to make sure your development will not have a negative effect on the built or natural environment surrounding your property. If you like, you can choose to navigate these processes yourself, but it’s worth noting that these procedures and regulations can often be somewhat arcane and complicated for those who are not familiar with them.