The task of choosing an architect to design your new home can seem daunting, to say the least, but with a few key questions up your sleeve, interviewing architects will be a breeze.
1. Make sure you are comparing like for like
Did you know that architects in the UK have a protection of title but not of function? As a result, there are many people who provide ‘architectural services’ and are not fully-qualified architects. I would say that this is one of the most important areas to research. If you are comparing a technician, who may be a sole practitioner, with a practice of registered architects, you are going to notice a huge disparity in price. A trained professional follows a strict code of conduct to give the best possible service to their client. A great place to find a registered architect in your area is the Architects Registration Board (ARB).
2. Questions are the answers
Be sure to ask them what value they can bring to your project. Will they provide options for you to discuss when exploring design? Will you have a clear understanding of whether the design is meeting your budget? And how much involvement will you need? Will your architect be liaising with the planning department, building control and other consultants on your behalf? What are their lead times like? And what does a typical project programme look like in terms of time and service? Lastly, it’s crucial to establish whether your architect provides services from design to completion. You may see this written as numbers when you are doing your research. Stages 0 to 3 take you from design to planning. Stages 4 to 7 take you from Building Regulations and working drawings through to completion and use.
3. Look at work they have completed for their other clients
It is vital to engage an architect who can fulfil your needs as a client. Take your time to look at their past work. Browsing the projects page on their website is always an excellent way to do this. Ask them directly what experience they have and if they have worked on projects like yours in the past. Your architect should be happy to provide references upon request. Some architects do have a distinct style, and others will vary their style according to their client’s brief. This is an important question to ask during your interviews. If the architect specialises in contemporary architecture, and you are looking for a traditionally-detailed build, they may not be the right choice for you.
4. What kind of professional would you like to work with?
A building project can take years from start to finish. It is important for both you and your architect to be able to listen to and respect each other. This makes for a great working relationship and will undoubtedly produce the best outcomes for you and your project.
5. Have fun!
It may seem like stepping into the unknown but remember, your architect is a trained professional, there to advise you and bring to the table all the ways in which your new project can come to life. Engage with the process, be present and enjoy the journey!