Whether it is a new house or a landscaped garden, an architect designs a project that matches design requirements provided by homeowners and builders. An architect can see the 'big picture' when translating your ideas into reality. Their role is to develop a design that is aesthetically pleasing while being safe and structurally sound. An architect also transforms ideas into economical and functional designs.
What an Architect Does
An architect is involved in the design of new buildings and larger development schemes. They also design outdoor spaces and alterations to existing buildings, such as a house extension. Architects may also be used to provide advice on the restoration or conservation of buildings, particularly listed or heritage properties. An architect works with other construction professionals when preparing drawings and plans for a project, including builders, planners, engineers and surveyors. Drawings and specifications are then used by builders to construct the project.
Before meeting with an architect, it is important to define project objectives to clearly define what role he or she will play. It is important to define the role of the architect in a project. For example, they might only be needed to provide drawings or perhaps they will have a larger role such as managing the project at all design and build stages. Take time to write down what are desired outcomes of the project and what advice is needed from an architect before the initial meeting. An architect needs as much information as possible in order to develop plans that align with a homeowner's vision.
Choosing an Architect
An architect must be registered with the Architects' Registration Board (ARB), which is the UK's regulator of architects. In order to be registered with the Architects Register, architects must be qualified and trained. Architects may also be members of professional institutes, which can also help when searching for an architect. These institutes include the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, and the Royal Society of Ulster Architects. Other resources to use when looking for an architect are specialist online directories such as Buildernet, as well as referrals from friends and family who have hired an architect to undertake similar work.
When choosing an architect, consider getting an architect that specialises in the type of work you are considering for your home. Certain architects may specialise in landscaping while others focus on redeveloping heritage properties. Architects also have different approaches to design. Some create modern designs, while others adopt a more traditional approach. Another consideration is deciding whether to hire an architect from small or large practice, which often depends on the size and complexity of the project. The cost of hiring an architect is also an important deciding factor. At the same time, the least expensive quote may not be the best option and might not provide value for money.
Meeting with Your Architect
At the first meeting, your architect will speak with you about your project in order to understand your needs and objectives. Although it is important to follow advice provided by the architect, if there is any doubt you should ask questions and identify concerns. Having a mutual understanding of the project early on will ensure there is less confusion and problems as the project moves forward.
When talking to your architect, understand what their fee will be and how payment will be made. Get multiple quotes from more than one architect, if necessary. It is also important to understand how your architect will communicate with you as the project progresses, including how often updates will be provided. An architect should always communicate any issues that can affect the cost or quality of the project as soon as possible. Before any work starts, your architect must draft a contract that clearly outlines the work he or she is being hired to undertake, all fees and the payment schedule, roles and responsibilities, and terms for dispute resolution and making complaints.