For residential projects like extensions, renovations and new builds, architects are usually hired after a client:
- has a rough idea of the brief, even if it’s still vague, e.g. ‘We’d like a larger open-plan kitchen’ or ‘We need an extra bedroom’
- has set an outline budget and knows how it will be financed
- is in ownership of the property/land.*
*Can I hire an architect before completion?
Although it’s more common to hire an architect when you are in ownership of the property, many architects would be happy to start discussions before or during the sales process. You could ask your architect to prepare a feasibility report for you, which can provide details of any potential issues your project may face.
Image above by Heidi, architect in East London. See her full profile and shortlist her for your home project here.
Do I need an architect?
See our full article on this subject here, but the short answer is no, not necessarily. Although there’s no legal requirement to use an architect for a home building or renovation project, a good architectural design professional can:
- find the best design solution for your brief
- advise you on where to spend your budget and where to save
- guide you through planning, building regs, freeholder consent and party wall issues
- help you appoint a builder, get the right price and, if required, oversee the builder’s work.
You may decide not to hire an architect if:
- your contractor can offer design and build services (this may be through their in-house or connected architect)
- you hire an architectural technician or technologist. (What’s the difference between an architect and an architectural designer or technologist?)
- the work is internal and you choose to hire an interior designer. (Do I need an architect or an interior designer?)
Should I speak to builders before hiring an architect?
You might want to start speaking to builders at the beginning of your project to get a rough idea of cost and also compile a shortlist for the detailed quote stage later on, but they won’t be able to produce accurate quotes without a decent set of drawings and specification.
The design process is critical to the success of your project – not only is it crucial to your satisfaction with the end result, but it is also likely to save you time, money and headaches during the build.
A good package of drawings and specification is a means to communicate with your builder. From these documents, you will be able to get accurate and like-for-like quotes, and they will ensure that you and your builder are on the same page, avoiding disputes and unexpected costs during the build.
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