Building design and construction projects can be expensive and complicated. Unless your project is very simple, you will benefit from the expertise of an architect.
An architect’s job is to help you to navigate the design and build process from start to finish, ensuring that the final build is functional, safe, and meets all legal requirements. However, many people have never hired an architect before, so the process can seem a little daunting.
Take a look at our guide to appointing an architect.
Finding an architect
The most important part of appointing an architect is finding the right person for the job.
Research architects in your area to determine their level of experience and areas of expertise, and meet with them to discuss your project in more detail. Most architects will provide a free consultation to assess the job, but you should expect to pay for more detailed advice or information.
Personal recommendations can be a useful way to find a trustworthy architect, but it’s worth bearing in mind whether the two projects are comparable; just because an architect was right for your friend’s job, doesn’t mean that their expertise is suitable for your requirements.
Make sure the architect offers what you’re looking for, but don’t pay for more than you need. For a relatively straightforward domestic extension, it doesn’t make sense to pay a premium for an architect that is highly experienced in renovating historic buildings.
The term ‘architect’ is a protected term, and anyone in the UK who refers to themselves as such must be registered with the ARB. It’s also a good idea to look for a RIBA registered architect to ensure that your chosen practitioner offers the highest level of service.
It’s extremely difficult to benchmark how much architects charge, as there are a huge number of factors behind pricing considerations.
The fee will depend on the appointed architect, whether that’s a signature architect, lead architect or junior architect, the size, complexity and type of building required, the location of the project, the level of service required, and many other factors.
When choosing between architects, make sure that you are comparing like-for-like services. Some architects may offer a complete service, from measuring and drawing up designs through to liaising with all contractors on your behalf. This will naturally make their fees higher than an architect offering pure consultancy.
There are three standard ways that architects charge for projects:
Percentage of the total build cost
Lump sum fee
It’s important to discuss these options with your architect to determine which works best for your project before proceeding with the appointment.
Forms of appointment
Once you and your architect agree to work together, you will need to draw up an appointment to agree the work to be undertaken. This means setting out in writing the scope of the services required, as well as the fees that will be charged.
There are several standard forms appointment available through bodies such as RIBA, ACA and the CIC for more straightforward projects. These options have the benefit of being cheaper and more convenient than bespoke agreements, while providing clarity and legal backing for both parties.
Where a bespoke agreement is used, you should be careful to ensure that all relevant points are covered to ensure protection of both parties, including warranties, payment provisions, copyright, termination and disputes.
If an architect is required for a very minor commission where a full contract may be seen as too much, a letter of appointment may be used. This should cover the same issues as a full appointment contract, outlining the project scope, fees, terms and agreements between the two parties. This less formal method may also be used while a full contract is being drawn up where a client wishes to get the project started quickly.
Looking to appoint an architect?
If you have an architectural project in mind and you’re looking for support, simply get in touch to discuss your requirements. We offer a free consultation, during which we will discuss the scope of the build and address any questions or concerns that you may have.