When you’re looking to hire professionals to support a building or extension, you might be unsure of what exactly each different person’s role is.

One of the most common causes of confusion is the differences between an architect, chartered architect, and architectural designer. While these roles sound similar, there are some important differences that you should be aware of before appointing anyone.

What is an architect?

An architect is a person who is able to plan, design and oversee the construction of buildings. As well as dealing with the building itself, they will also assess and consider the building’s impact on the surrounding area, the environment and other key factors.

However, the term “architect” is protected, and a person can only call themselves an architect if they are registered on the Architects Registration Board (ARB). While other professionals may provide the same services, they cannot legally call themselves an architect unless they are ARB registered.

ARB is the UK’s regulatory board for architects and ensures that all registered members have the necessary qualifications and uphold relevant legislation. They work to ensure good standards within the profession.

View Design Haus’ James Brindley on ARB’s register.

What is a chartered architect?

A chartered architect is someone who is registered on both the ARB and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). They are therefore legally allowed to use the title “architect”, as well as being able to use the term “chartered” and the RIBA suffix.

RIBA chartered membership is voluntary and is not a legal requirement. However, it shows an additional dedication to the profession, working to ensure high-quality, environmentally friendly designs and excellent customer service.

View Design Haus’ James Brindley on RIBA’s member directory.

What is an architectural designer?

“Architectural designer” is a vague and broad title that covers the full range of architectural disciplines. They are able to provide some or all of the same services as an architect, but they are not a Registered Architect.

Unlike “architect”, the term is not protected or regulated, so there is no particular qualification that a person is required to have before using the title “architectural designer”. However, they are likely to have some architectural qualifications and often work alongside Registered Architects on design projects.

How to decide who to appoint

There is no legal requirement to use the services of an architect when expanding, renovating or constructing a building. Who you choose to work with will depend on the scope of the project and its particular challenges.

An architect’s job to manage the project for you and liaise with third parties. This includes managing contractors and obtaining planning permission from local authorities.

Don’t pay for more than you require. For smaller, simpler projects, an architectural designer may be adequate. However, the more complex the build, the more beneficial a chartered architect will be. A practitioner who has previously worked on similar projects will be worth their weight in gold.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that governing bodies like ARB will investigate complaints against a member should you have a problem, so this gives you greater protection against cowboys.

James Brindley, chartered architect

Design Haus’ James Brindley is a fully qualified chartered architect registered with ARB and BIID, and fully accredited by RIBA.

Read more about different architectural qualifications or get in touch to discuss your project.