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Many people don’t know when to hire an architect because they are not clear about what an architect does. They have a vague idea that architects design buildings. But in reality, an architect does so much more. From helping you design an extension to your existing project, to renovating its structure completely, they not only work on brand-new buildings but are often involved in property makeovers. 

Architects prefer to get involved from the beginning of a project to ensure that their design concept is realised in practice. Apart from designing your home, they will put together a brief for the whole project including the construction, get you planning approval, select a qualified and experienced builder, and oversee the work. 

To make it easier to find the right London-based architect, we have put these tips together for you.

Make finding an architect your first step

If you skip out the important first step of finding an architect and move straight to finding a builder, chances are that you will not get the result you had in mind. Builders are not trained in design in the same way as architects. They may come up with a functional plan, but it will lack the aesthetics of an architectural design. This may be fine for putting up a barn. However, doing this to your home can result in a steep decline in the value of your property. A proper design will increase its value.

An architect will first create a design and get your approval with realistic 3D or computerised videos to illustrate the final result. Only when you are happy with the design will they allow builders to put in tenders for doing the work. These bids ensure that you get the job done at a competitive price and do not overpay the builder. The architect will also provide detailed specifications so that the builder will only get paid for correctly completed work. The quality of the work will also be monitored.

Choose a qualified architect

Although numerous people offer their services for designing and managing your home improvement initiative, this does not mean that they are qualified architects. Firms may state that they have architectural technicians, consultants, or even designers in their company, but you need to see actual qualifications to be sure that you are hiring someone with legitimate seven years of training followed by verifiable experience. Some of these pretenders to the field have zero qualifications.

An architect has to study and acquire certain skills and knowledge before they can practise. This includes aspects such as contract law, project management, relevant health and safety, architectural history, and building construction.

The services offered by a london architect

Various factors determine if your project needs planning approval, and a qualified architect will know what these are and be able to put together the necessary information to enable you to get this permission. Building regulations are another area of the expert knowledge that an architect must master. Your architect will see that your project plan complies with the way it is constructed and includes required elements such as fire escapes and meets efficient energy standards.

The design will contain minute details and provide complete specifications for the builder. This enables contractors to determine accurate pricing before submitting tenders. Nothing will be missing in these specs so you will not face additional costs later for an omission that should not have occurred.

Quality control monitoring during the building phase will take place as part of the architectural service. When a builder submits invoices for payment, these will be assessed against the work that was carried out and its quality.

Determine what an architect will charge you

What an architect charges will differ from one firm to another and their method of charging. Some architects take a percentage of the total cost of a project. In other instances, a lump sum will be levied. If the architect is only involved in getting you through the planning stages, they may charge you an hourly rate. In the latter case, always ask for the estimated total number of hours.

The smaller a project is, the higher the percentage rate that will be charged, while the fee for a bigger project will be calculated at a lower rate. In general, a job costing £500,000 will cost between six and eight percent, compared to a £50,000 overall cost being charged at nine to thirteen percent. In between these two, you might pay somewhere between 8% and 12% for a project worth £150,000.

Selecting an architect

Architects may also specialise in things like conservation projects where unique knowledge is needed of protected species and the law. Others may focus on new homes or only renovations or extensions. 

Look for a Chartered Architecture firm with Chartered Architects. This will help you narrow down the search as there are literally hundreds of architects in London. It will also ensure that the pool of candidates you are looking at is insured. Also, consider an architect whose office location is close to your home and who is likely to have experience with, and contacts at, your local planning office.

If you are looking for architects in London you will want someone with proven experience, satisfied customers, and a portfolio you admire. Find a great architect firm in London here.

Select at least three to five possible architects to work with. Interview them, look at photos of previous work to see if it matches what you want to achieve, and find out how much they will charge you. It helps if you resonate well with the person as you will be working with him/her for the duration of your project.

By following these tips, you will find a qualified, experienced architect who can manage your whole project from start to finish and ensure that a builder with the right qualifications is hired and who delivers on the exact specifications of the design your architect has prepared.  

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