WHY USE AN ARCHITECT?
If you intend to extend or alter your home or business premises, if
you care about quality and value for money, then it makes sense to
consult a professional who shares your concerns. An architect will
understand your hopes and anxieties, and will help you translate
your vision into reality. To any building or development project, no
matter how small, he or she will bring three essential qualities:
Whether you are looking for tradition or innovation, boldness or
understatement, an architect can lift your project out of the
ordinary. Anyone can alter a building. It takes an expert to do it
with flair, imagination and style.
An architect can find the extra light and space you didn't know you
had, suggest materials you hadn't thought of, make sure you find the
right builder at the right price.
Architects are construction professionals with knowledge of the
industry and its organisation, working methods and standards. An
architect can advise and guide you through the complex web of rules,
regulations and contractual obligations connected with planning and
building. Your architect can also monitor the construction work
through to completion. All RIBA registered practices are required to
carry professional indemnity insurance.
There is a misplaced sense of mystique about what architects do - a
fear even, that they will impose their own tastes at the expense of
your own. Nothing could be further from the truth. Step by step, by
consultation and agreement, your architect will lead you through the
entire process from the first germ of an idea to the finished
Architects' professional training and experience means that they can
interpret and respond to any realistic brief they are given. At your
initial meeting you will discuss your intentions and ideas. Your
architect will listen carefully to what you have to say, and will
take and develop a brief which covers not only design aesthetics but
also the function of the building, running costs, budget and timing.
Only after you have seen and approved initial sketches will the
ideas be translated into detailed designs. At an early stage your
architect can help you define a range of costs for your project.
Your architect can also help you find and brief other consultants
who may be needed - a structural engineer or a quantity surveyor,
An important part of an architect's service is to advise you on
statutory controls and procedures which might apply to your project.
As a client or building owner, you are obliged to comply with
legislation concerning town and country planning, Building
Regulations, health and safety in design and construction and, where
relevant, party walls. These are all matters on which your architect
can help and advise. The architect will also deal with the various
authorities on your behalf, which can often be time- consuming and
With planning approval in place, your architect will prepare working
drawings with technical specifications against which a number of
builders can estimate costs and timings. When you have discussed the
tenders and chosen a builder, your architect will recommend a form
of building contract appropriate for your project.
Your architect can monitor the builder's work against the contract
agreement, particularly in terms of meeting the standards required,
finishing by the completion date and not exceeding the contract
figure without authority.
DOES IT COST?
You can select all or part of an architect's service. If you want
only an hour's general advice then that is all you will pay for. If
you need just the detailed drawings, or want the scheme to be guided
to the planning permission stage and no further, then that is fine
too. The RIBA has standard appointment documents from which you can
select the precise services you need.
architect save you money?
Yes. As part of the full professional service your architect will
explore the most efficient use of space, specify the most
appropriate materials and finishes, be sensitive to environmental or
other factors important to you, look for economy in operational and
maintenance costs and consider such matters as a building's life
cycle costs and potential for changes of use. The initial outlay for
a building project often seems formidable but good design and
planning can bring considerable benefits and added value in the long
out the bill
There is no fixed scale but, depending on the nature of the scheme,
architectural fees for the full service should come to between 8%
and 15% of the total building cost. For a drawings only service some
architects will charge by the hour. A simple building which requires
less attention to detail will usually attract a smaller percentage
than a building for residential use.
HOW TO FIND
THE BEST ARCHITECT FOR THE JOB
Choose an architect whose previous work you like. Listen to
recommendations from friends and neighbours. Ask to see a portfolio
of work, or to visit finished buildings. Above all talk to your
intended architect. It is important to ensure that you are
compatible, that your architect listens to what you say and that you
respect each other's views. He or she must convince you both of
their creativity and their ability to get things done.
If you would like some help in identifying appropriate architects
for your project, the RIBA Clients' Advisory Service (CAS) can
CAS operates an extensive computerised database on all RIBA
registered practices. Detailed practice information is held in the
CAS office in London. In addition the regional offices of the RIBA
(listed below) can supply outline information on all locally
registered practices that is adequate and appropriate for most small
works and domestic projects. The information held in the regions
- A practice profile
- Information on past projects undertaken by the practice
- Sectors within which the practice has worked
- The range of services offered by the practice
The RIBA regional offices offer a nomination service tailor-made for
all local domestic and small works projects. A shortlist of
architectural practices with a variety of skills and expertise which
meet the client's project requirements is drawn from the database.
The client receives a basic profile of each practice which includes
a list of the services offered by that practice and an indication of
their areas of expertise, along with the contact name and address
and other basic practice data. This unique service is available free
of charge to anyone contemplating a building project.
Our RIBA Local Regional Offices
SOUTH WEST REGION
School of Architecture
University of Plymouth
161 Notte Street
Tel: 01752 265921 / 265927 Fax: 01752 663747
WEST MIDLANDS REGION
Birmingham & Midlands Institute
Tel: 0121 233 2321 Fax: 0121 233 4946
A good working relationship between architect and client is crucial
to the success of a project and should be firmly secured by an
agreement that clearly defines services, costs and procedures. The
RIBA Code of Professional Conduct requires architects to define and
record the terms of any agreement they enter into to provide
The RIBA publishes a standard form of agreement, entitled Small
Works (SW/96), designed for use on projects where the cost of the
building work is not expected to exceed £100,000. This consists of
a short menu of services and a sheet of conditions relevant to the
appointment. The accompanying booklet of guidance; Architect's
Services: Small Works answers some of the questions first time
clients may ask and includes indicative fees scales for small works
projects. Both are available from RIBA Bookshops or by mail order
from RIBA Publications.