Do I need an architect?

Unless your project is very simple it makes sense to at least talk to an architect for advice before you get going. Generally architects begin to offer a full service for projects with a budget of £50,000 or more, but for a smaller fee an architect can help you get the best out of your project in the early stages, regardless of size and whether they are needed later on. Most architects offer one-off consultations and these can be incredibly useful. They will give you guidance on all aspects of your project from design and cost through to planning and construction. In a short space of time you can gain valuable insight to help you realise your project. If you need planning permission it is likely that you will need an architect


How do I know if someone is an architect?

The title ‘architect’ is protected by law (Architects Act 1997), so that only those who have undergone rigorous training, and fully qualified, can rightly use it. Watch out for companies styling themselves as ‘architectural’ designers or similar wording as this is generally an indication that they are not eligible. All architects must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB), with most taking up RIBA membership also. If an individual is without either credential then they may be operating unregulated, providing you with no guarantees of their ability to deliver the service you require. You can check if a person is a RIBA member on our directory.


Why should I choose a RIBA Chartered Practice?

Only architectural practices that meet a strict eligibility criteria can register as a RIBA Chartered Practice. All RIBA accredited Chartered Practices: • employ a required number of individual RIBA Chartered Architects • have appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance • have an effective Quality Management system • have comprehensive Health and Safety and Environmental policies in place • are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with a Code of Practice in a manor appropriate to their status. View the full Code of Practice. They are committed to excellence in design and customer service. That’s why the RIBA only promotes accredited Chartered Practices to clients.


How do I write a brief?

The ultimate success of your project depends on the quality of your brief, i.e. your ability to describe clearly to your architect the requirements and functions of your building, and proposed methods of operation and management. It is wise to ask your architect to assist you in preparing a final brief. Your architect will need to know: • your aims • your budget • your design style: are you looking for a design in keeping with the existing building? Do you want a contemporary or high-tech design? Are you concerned about having a sustainable or ecological design? • your reasons for embarking on this building project: what activities are intended for it? • your authority: who will make the decisions about the designs, costs and construction when the project is underway? • your overall expectations: what do you hope to achieve by this project - more space, more light, variety of uses, greater flexibility?


How do I pick the right architect?

Clients often appoint an architect who is known to them or who has been recommended, or whose work they admire. This can be a sensible approach, unless you need a range of particular skills and services to match your requirements more precisely, in which case a more structured process of selection is recommended. Look for a practice with experience of your type of project or one that shares your aspirations. Check how many similar projects they have built, their contacts with the local planning department and their track record of approvals. Follow up their references to find out about how well they communicated, how responsive they were to changes, and how effective they were at managing the budget. Speak to each firm on your shortlist, describe your project and ask if they have the capacity to take it on. If so, request literature that outlines the firm’s qualifications and experience. Visit their website. Ask to see a portfolio of work, or to visit finished buildings. Above all, get to know your intended architect. It is important to ensure that you are compatible. Your architects must convince you of their creative thinking and their ability to get things done.