Finding the best house extension architect
Here at Design for Me, we are experts in matching and connecting homeowners with the best house extension architect for their particular project. We have put together our top tips for finding the perfect architect for your house extension and how to avoid common pitfalls.
Here at Design for Me, we’ve helped thousands of homeowners all over the UK to find the best architect or designer for their project.
✓ Get matched within minutes and see who’s interested.
✓ Get no obligation quotes.
✓ It’s completely free.
Extension image above from Michele, architect from South London on Design for Me. See more and shortlist him for your home project here.
Cast a wide net in the first instance
It can be tempting to jump on the first word-of-mouth recommendation you get. While you shouldn’t rule these out, what was right for your friend/neighbour’s job may not be right for yours.
Even if you end up circling back to the first architect you speak to, it’s really worth going through the process of exploring your options. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy and arduous exercise and it’s very possible that you will learn a lot during a few short conversations that will only benefit the overall process.
Think about the biggest potential challenges in your project
Will planning consent be more difficult than normal (e.g. you’re in a conservation area or you know the proposal could be contentious)?
In this case, you should speak to the architect about their history of planning applications. Have they done something similar? Have they had experience with your local planning office before?
Are you keen to use a particular building material or building system?
Ideally your architect will have some experience or at least a keen interest in it.
Is your budget the biggest challenge?
Some architects are used to working on tight budgets… and many are not! If your budget is tight, it’s critical to find an architect who embraces your budget, and has experience in finding design strategies, construction methods and materials to keep costs low.
Do you have difficult neighbours?
Consider how your architect could help you liaise with them and explain the proposals. A little charm and diplomacy from your architect can go a long way!
Meet them in person at your home
Although you might just want to have a quick phone/video call first before having a face to face meeting, it’s really important for the architect to meet you at your property before you hire them. From this meeting you should start to get a sense of the design direction from your architect, how you communicate and whether there is any friction or synergy between your design ambitions.
Read reviews (and also get references)
Online reviews are always very reassuring and useful to get a sense of their strengths. However, it’s also a good idea to ask for references so you can contact their past clients directly.
Are they experts in home renovations / extensions?
One of the main reasons I created Design for Me was to help homeowners with ‘everyday’ projects connect with architects and designers who specialise in them. The architects who are experts in private domestic architecture are often small practices, rising-star architects or freelancers/sole traders that can otherwise be difficult to find online.
Are they available and eager to work on your project?
One pitfall to look out for, especially if you’re cold-calling/emailing local practices, is whether they have the best resources at the time to take on your project.
It’s not ideal to be the smallest, least important project on their books. It’s also worth finding out who in their practice will be actually delivering your project as sometimes, especially in larger practices, it won’t be the director.
When you post your project to Design for Me, we will very quickly match you with the best house extension architects in your area and find out who is interested and available to take on your project. These people are likely to give your project the time, care and attention it needs.
A local architect may not be the best for your project
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 recommend that you don’t simply use the architect closest to your house for solely that reason!
Formalise your arrangement before appointing them
We strongly recommend that you have a written document (which can be a letter or a standard form of appointment), setting out the expectations of your arrangement. Even if you get on very well and trust them, it’s helpful for both of you to set out what is expected from them and when. This will usually include (but certainly not limited to) the following subjects.
- Their fee. How and when it should be paid.
- The scope of their services and a timescale.
- How appointments of other consultants will be made.
- What happens if things go wrong – e.g. they are incapacitated or either one of you wishes to terminate the appointment.
- The procedure for resolving disputes (should this arise).
Who are we?
Design for Me is a free platform to help you quickly find the right design professional for your home project. My name is Emily Barnes and as a residential architect myself, I started Design for Me after finding that talented and innovative smaller firms and individuals, who are perfectly placed to design new homes, extensions and 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 interior designers in your area and beyond, and you can see who may be available and eager to work on your project straight away.
- Quickly see who’s interested in your job.
- Create a shortlist.
- Invite up to three for a no-obligation consultation.
Emily Design for Me
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