Choosing the right architect for your project

September 24th, 2020

At Clement Windows Group, we work with a huge range of architects and building professionals on a variety of commercial and residential projects. We know how important it is to choose the right architect to work on an individual project, so we’ve put together some key considerations to help you when you’re thinking about making this important decision.

Choosing the right architect for your project

Photograph taken and supplied by Isobel James.

Do I need an architect?

Whether you decide to hire an architect for your refurbishment, extension or new structure is up to you. Some property owners have experience in undertaking major works or projects, or they already have good working relationships with builders, whilst others may only have a rough idea of what they’re looking to achieve. An architect can help guide your vision and bring new or creative ideas, as well as taking away the pressures that come with managing planning processes.

Your architect’s specialism is key

Most architects tend to have an area of expertise, whether that’s residential projects, high-rise commercial buildings or conservation and restoration. It’s important to focus your search around this as there will likely be varying legislative, planning and compliance considerations for different property and land types. The right architect should be able to guide your plans so that minimal changes will be required when seeking permissions.

When doing your research, be sure to check portfolios, examples of clients and previous work to ensure that your project will align with their area of interest and expertise.

Could you need input from multiple architects?

Similarly, the scope of your project might mean a need to engage with multiple experts and collaborate around your requirements, such as if you own a Listed Building that also requires a modern and functional interior fit-out for commercial use, or perhaps you’d like expertise around sustainable material sourcing.

Some architectural firms specialise in different areas of expertise in order to provide you with a whole service, including on-site work and project management, whilst you may prefer to instruct specialists for different stages.

Make sure it’s a good fit

It’s always a good idea to engage with a few different experts to discuss your ideas, a rough breakdown of costs and, perhaps more importantly, consult with them at the proposed site to ensure their vision and attitudes will be a good fit for the work.

Instructing an architect will of course add an extra cost to your project, so finding the right expert who you can develop rapport and trust with is key. An experienced professional will be able to advise you on material sourcing and design details that can save you money in the long run, whilst also avoiding silly or expensive mistakes.

Planners can save you considerable time and money guiding you through the maze of planning criteria, particularly if your property is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or a Conservation Area (CA), or if it is listed. But wherever you are, good, sound professional advice and experience can be really useful, particularly if you are undertaking building works for the first time.

Architects may be able to assist with the selection of an engineer or builder and to advise what to consider or avoid if you are entering into construction related agreements for the first time. Of course if your property is in an AONB or a CA or if it is listed then it is very important that you have the right advice before you replace any of the existing steel windows, steel doors or rooflights. Carrying out these works without the correct permissions can result in fines or in you having to replace the new windows you have just installed.

You can use the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) online tool to find Chartered practices, check the Architects Registration Board (ARB) Register or find estimates with the Homeowners Alliance.

If you are looking for technical advice and support around the fenestration elements of your upcoming project, please contact us for more information on our residential and commercial services.