Finding architects near me
This week, we thought we’d share our answer to a frequently asked question here at Design for Me:
‘Do I need a local architect?
Whether you are planning an extension, renovation or even a self-build house, finding the right architect is probably the most critical decision you’ll need to make. Once you have them on board, they can guide you through the maze of decisions you’ll face throughout the design, planning and construction of the project.
Finding just the right person for your requirements will help you-
- keep a tight rein on costs and spend money wisely in the design process,
- make sure you’re meeting all relevant legal requirements e.g. planning, building control, party wall, freeholder consent etc.,
- appoint a good builder, avoiding any problems with time, cost or quality of the workmanship,
- and most importantly, end up with your dream home that you’ll want to live in for many years.
But how important is it that I only speak to architects near me?
Location is just one of the criteria you might look for in your architect but using an architect nearby may well have some advantages:
1. Local planning knowledge
They are likely to have had experience with your local planning department and, consequently, they should have a good knowledge of development guidelines in your area. That said, any good architect would quickly be able to get up to speed with the guidelines, and having dealt with local planning officers in the past is very unlikely to gain them (and therefore you) an upper hand. The more important thing to check is that they have had a lot of experience and success with planning applications generally.
2. Hiring a builder
A local architect will be more likely to be able to recommend a local builder. They may well have worked with builders in your area on similar projects. Having this first-hand recommendation, as well as a good working relationship between your architect and builder, can be a real advantage.
3. Finding other professionals
For the same reasons above, they are also likely to be able to recommend other professionals that you might need: local structural engineers and party wall consultants, for example.
4. Using local suppliers
Obviously, many building materials and fittings can be sourced nationally (or even globally), but there may well be some things that you’ll want to source locally. As well as the environmental advantage of keeping delivery distances down and helping the local economy, being able to go and see and touch products in the flesh can be really helpful in the design/specification process. A local architect should have a good knowledge of suppliers in the area, and may even have access to trade discounts.
5. Face to face meetings / site visits
Using a local architect will make it much easier to meet with them regularly during the design process. Although many conversations can be done over email and the phone, sometimes it’s really worthwhile meeting in person to clarify the design and any complexities in the project. Likewise, it’s also very advantageous that the architect can nip to site regularly and be there quickly in a critical situation!
How far away should an architect be?
Here at Design for Me, we recommend that the ideal distance is less than 20 miles from your home. However, it’s not uncommon for fantastic projects to be born out of longer-distance appointments. In fact, sometimes it’s better to cast a wider net to make sure you find someone who you trust and on your wavelength. Ideally you should try and find someone who;
- is genuinely enthusiastic about your job,
- has the time and resources to set to work on it when you need them to,
- understands your brief and budget, and is confident that they can meet your expectations,
- understands your sense of style,
- is within your budget.
So, location is definitely a consideration, but we strongly recommend that you don’t simply use the architect closest to your house for solely that reason!
Finding the best / local architect for you
Design for Me helps homeowners find a local architect, but also meets the other criteria mentioned above! It’s free to use, and we’ll send your project to the most suitable architects that match your needs. As a residential architect myself, I started Design for Me after finding that talented and innovative small firms and individuals, who are perfectly placed to design new homes, extensions and/or renovations, can often get buried under the online profiles of large commercial companies.
Before Design for Me, the right architect was very difficult to find!
Once you register your project, we’ll match it with 100s of top architects or architectural technicians, and you can see who may be available and eager to work on your project straight away.
Emily Design for Me