How to Find an Architect
While finding the right architect can seem like a complicated process, it doesn’t have to be! Whether it’s for a residential or commercial project, to design a new home or renovate an older building, it’s important to find the right architect with the necessary skills for your specific project and an approach that aligns with your vision. Here are a few tips on how to select the perfect architect to bring your project to life.
Choosing an architect for your project is a critical decision that can have consequences for years to come - after all they are the one who will be responsible for designing the building that you’ll likely live in and use for a long time, or your construction project that represents a significant investment for you. You’ll want to make sure that your project meets your needs, and that everything goes smoothly. Keep in mind that all architecture projects aren’t the same – from residential design and home renovations to managing major construction projects or high-specification sustainable design, each project requires a certain skillset as well as expertise and resources. This means it’s important to find an architect who has the right specialisations for your specific project type and offers the architectural services you need. Each architect also has their own personal design philosophy, and it’s important that it’s in line with what you personally are looking for. Even if an architect you’re thinking of hiring has a very impressive portfolio or is quoting you an especially attractive price, it is also important to make sure that you have a good feeling about them and their previous work.
When it comes to figuring levels of experience into your decision, there are different priorities to consider. The advantage of a seasoned architect is that they have likely dealt with almost every type of construction project imaginable throughout their experience, and therefore will be able to take any potential issues with your project in their stride. On the other hand, younger architects will have recently completed their training, which has evolved over the years and may offer them a more in-depth knowledge in certain areas such as the latest technology or work methodologies. They are also likely to bring a fresh energy to your project and take extra care with you as one of their first customers, as they will be keen to build up a network of clients. Of course, many highly experienced architects keep up to date with developments in their profession and remain equally dedicated to their clients, so it’s always wise to keep an open mind. Another consideration is that a less experienced architect may also charge you less than one with more experience. This is a decision to be made according to your budget, as well as your own personal preferences.
How Do I Find the Right Architect?
There are a variety of ways to look for an architect. While in the past the process would often involve looking in design magazines, which frequently feature architects who have won awards or worked on a particularly interesting and eye-catching project, asking around within your network of friends, family and colleagues, or looking up architects in your local directory of professionals such as the Yellow Pages, these methods of searching can be time-consuming and may not lead you to the best architect for your specific needs. Nowadays, most people turn to the internet to find an architect. On our site for example, you can easily view examples of an architect’s work and make sure they have the necessary specialisations for your project type. Need help? We’ll take the guesswork out and help you connect with the best architect for you in a matter of minutes.
Do I Need a Registered Architect? What’s the Difference?
Architect, Architectural Assistant, Architectural Technologist, Architectural Designer, Architectural Consultant… What’s the difference? While there are various titles used by architects and other design and construction professionals, the title of ‘Architect’ is in fact protected by law in the UK. Regulated by the Architects Registration Board, this title ensures that you know if you’re hiring a genuine architect with the necessary skills, training and experience to join the Architects Register and legally practice architecture in the United Kingdom. Only the title of “architect” falls under this regulation by the ARB, and anyone in the design and building industry who calls themselves an architect however is required to register with them.
So, what’s the benefit of choosing a registered architect? Are you required to hire an architect for your project? While you may not be legally required to hire a registered architect for your project in the UK, doing so offers the guarantee that you’re entrusting your project to someone with the proper qualifications, insurance and capabilities to carry it out according to high professional standards. While architectural technicians and architectural designers often advertise architectural services for smaller projects such as home renovations or extensions and may offer attractive prices, it’s important to keep in mind that the cheapest quote isn’t always the best value in the long term. An architect not only has completed extensive training but is also required to carry Professional Indemnity Insurance, offering you peace of mind and protecting your investment in case of unexpected complications with your project. A registered architect is especially essential when it comes to larger-scale projects, whether to build a new home, design commercial or industrial buildings, or large residential developments such as apartment complexes.
The first thing that you should always be certain of when choosing an architect is that they are registered with the Architects Registration Board, which is legally required to practice as an architect in the UK. An architect can additionally become a Chartered Architect, which means they are a chartered member of a professional body of architects such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in the UK. A chartered architect follows a particular code of conduct which means their service is also held to a high standard by the professional association of which they are a member.
Choosing a Specialised Architect
There are different types of architects with various specialisations, and your choice will therefore depend on what services the architect in question can offer you. Some stand out for the aesthetic aspects of their creations, while others devote more focus to the technical considerations. Some are also specialised as residential architects or in commercial architecture, or in new builds as opposed to the renovation or alteration of existing buildings. Your choice will also depend on the level of service you will require from them: your choice of architect won’t be the same if you are simply looking for design sketches and plans, or for someone to walk you through all the different stages of the project from start to finish including managing the construction work. If you think your project is also going to be complicated with regards to planning permission, it can be a good idea to go with an architect who is familiar with dealing with your local planning authority, as this can help you avoid headaches further on down the line.
Meeting with an Architect
Once you’ve made your choice, the next step is to set up a meeting. If you have settled on the type of architect you require but aren’t sure who to choose, at this point you can also draw up a shortlist of up to three architects in your local area to see if they are the right fit for you. At your first meeting, it’s important to help the architect understand your goals and expectations for the project, so it’s best to think through your top priorities ahead of time and come prepared with your ideas organised. It may be a good idea to make a list of the important points to cover, and any questions you have, or even to bring examples of images or designs to illustrate your tastes or inspiration to give the architect a clear idea of what you’re looking for. You can also send your design brief or as much detail as possible about your project ahead of time: this will give them a better idea of what the job will entail and help you make the most of your meeting. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, or you’re in need of inspiration, an architect will know how to advise you and guide you in the right direction. Communication is key – don’t be afraid to ask questions, even basic ones, or express what you like or don’t like!
What are the questions to ask? During your first meeting, you’ll want to discuss certain key points with the architect, including their fees, how often they plan on keeping you updated on your project’s progress, and what specific information they will need from you. It’s also important to clarify exactly what services you require from the architect, and any expectations you have for your role or theirs throughout the design and building process. Don’t be afraid to be discuss your budget and financial priorities as well, as well as any concerns you have. It is also worth checking that the architect will actually be available when you would like them to be, and ask them to walk you through the likely timescale. You can also ask to see a portfolio of their previous work, to see if you like what they’ve done in the past. If you have concerns about planning permission, you can also ask for their approval rate for past successful planning applications. After this first consultation, it’s a good idea to meet with the architect again in person for them to present their quote.
Ready to find your architect? Find and compare architects near you with a wide range of different skills and services to find the perfect architect for you, and get in touch today to get your next architecture project started!