empower yourself by understanding what’s involved and why it matters
It is important to understand the professional services required to bring your idea to fruition. As building projects involve the co-ordination and integration of a great deal of complex information, you’ll need to get the right team on board.
The Case For Hiring An Architect
There is no law saying you have to employ an architect - it’s up to you. If you engage an architect however, you will pretty much always end up with a better end product.
Here are our top reasons to hire an architect:
Make your vision a reality
At the outset of a project, client's often have many ideas about how to improve their homes and the impact this will have on their lives. Sometimes these are simple and can easily be described, other times these are more abstract and hard to define. Architects will spend time with you to really understand what you need, and will guide you in the process of bringing these ideas together, whilst developing them into a cohesive architectural design. Architects are extensively trained in this process, and will help you visualise ideas through drawings and modelling, best enabling you to make the right choice.
See the bigger picture
Unlike most of the other disciplines within the building industry, architects can see the bigger picture and bring together a wide variety of factors to deliver the end goal. At the outset of a project architects will help you identify who else, and what further information is required for your project, and then proceed to act as your agent through the design and indeed construction, ensuring what is being built is in accordance with the design.
Creative problem solving
The design and building process is long, intricate and inevitably problems arise whether during the design stage or whilst the building is on site. This is especially the case when you're working with existing buildings, whose conditions are often very difficult to determine until demolition has started. Having a well develop design does not only reduce the likelihood of these problems happening in the first place, but as architects are highly trained in problem solving they are best equipped to rapidly come up with creative solutions when these problems do occur. Above all else, this relieves the pressure on you as a client to make decisions under stressful conditions.
If you don't hire an architect, it may appear that you will be saving on up front costs, however in the long run architects will generally save you money. The more time taken to develop a design that really meets your expectations as well as the various statutory restrictions, the less likely changes will occur on site, which are far more expensive that making updates to a set of drawings during the design phase. This furthermore stands true when considering your satisfaction with the end result; the better it is, the less likely you will be to redo work in the years to come. A fully developed design will also enable more accurate tender returns from the contractor, reducing the likelihood of incurring additional costs once the project has started on site. Architects can also be extremely useful with managing the tender process and negotiating with contractors on your behalf.
Design Team For Small Extensions and Renovations
In addition to conceiving the vision of your building project, the architect takes on the role of ‘lead consultant,’ becoming responsible for coordinating the works of all the other design team members into one cohesive package of information. Generally, you as the client will directly appoint each of the individual consultants, however your architect will let you know what other disciplines are required, and make introductions to those with whom they have good prior experience.
For domestic renovations and extensions the main design consultants required are:
The essential starting point for any design work is to have the existing conditions of your home fully documented. From accurate sizing of each room, to fully understanding the boundary with your neighbours, the more up front information for the designers, the more comprehensive the design will be.
From advising on what is possible through assessing the durability of your existing structure, to proposing suitable construction methods that will achieve the design you want, structural engineers are an essential consultant in any building project.
Engaging an approved inspector will massively reduce risk of running into problems with the building regulations, and will help you push the boundaries to get the best design possible for your project.
Party Wall Surveyor
By definition, all terraced homes have party will with neighbours, so getting party wall agreements has become an essential part of the building process. Other than the rare occasion when your neighbour will not want any say on how the wall that they jointly own is treated, you will need a party wall surveyor to get the legal agreements in place.
Other Specialist Consultants
No two projects are identical, from differences in the brief of the project, to the condition of your property. Depending on what is involved, other consultants may be considered, such as:
With the planning system becoming ever more complex, if your proposal goes beyond what is accepted under Permitted Development, it is often a good idea to hire a planning consultant who will help you put forward the best case possible to get consent for the design you want.
Mechanical, Electrical and Public Health (MEP) Engineer
Should you be interested in integrating more advanced building services, such as renewable technologies or even wireless control systems for security, heating or lighting etc, this may be beyond the capabilities of what your architect can advise on, and therefore you could consider employing a specialist engineer in these disciplines.
Establishing a well considered budget at the outset of a project, and keeping control of the costs as the design develops is one of the key challenges in any building project. Engaging a cost consultant is the most sure way to manage this process, and depending on the level of appointment, can become a very integral member of the design team.
Lighting / Audio Visual Consultant
With recent technological developments, advanced lighting and audio visual control is becoming more and more commonplace on home refurbishments. A specialist consultant in this field can best advise what is suitable for your needs.
Good architecture is site specific and considers the relationship between inside your home and the outside. Whilst architects can design outdoor spaces, and specialist landscape architect can take this design to the next level, including advice on what plant species are most suitable.
Whilst architects have a design overview of the entire project, including both what you can and can't see, the design expertise generally doesn't extend to all element of interior design, such as loose furniture and decorations. Collaboration with an interior designer can take transformation of your home to the next level.
How to hire
Nearly all disputes that arise between clients and design team members arise out of poor communication. It’s important to avoid the common mistake of not establishing the relationship properly from the outset, by adhering to the following simple guidelines:
Define scope of services accurately so that both client and consultant know what goals are to be realised.
Provide an adequate number of reviews during the design process to ensure that all concerned are kept informed.
Document decisions made through the project history to alleviate possible misunderstandings later in the course of the project.
Got Any Questions?