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Questions you MUST ask your architect before work begins

Amy Buxton Amy Buxton
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You've had your planning permission granted, had a blueprint drawn up and you are ready to proceed with an awesome new building project, but don't pull the trigger before you have read this article! We know you're excited and can't wait to get started, but would you know who was responsible for any mistakes? Do you know how many people will be working on site? If the answer is no, then read on and see what you should be asking your architect before any work starts!

Don't think of asking your architect questions as something that is wasting time or annoying them, you are paying a premium for a service that should give you total peace of mind that your project will be completed exactly as you want it, on time and to budget. We have taken all the guess work away for you and compiled a list of questions you should most definitely be asking your design team, so make a note of them and start enquiring!

What is a good house design for our needs?

You will more than likely have some great ideas for your new home and will definitely know some of the non-negotiable items that you absolutely have to have included, but don't overlook the experience and expertise of your architect. They have undertaken a lot of training and should be able to give you a really good idea of the kind of house that would best suit you, your needs and your budget.

Asking your architect questions should always result in peace of mind and confidence, so if you have some ideas but are open to suggestions, let them know and they can try to incorporate everything into one lovely house designed just for you!

What is a building code?

Front elevation of ​Bourne Lane eco-house in Kent:  Houses by Nash Baker Architects Ltd
Nash Baker Architects Ltd

Front elevation of ​Bourne Lane eco-house in Kent

Nash Baker Architects Ltd

You might hear a lot of talk about building codes, especially regarding the importance of making sure that your new house meets certain ones, so don't be afraid to ask your architect questions about what they are and which apply to you. From here, you can go away and do some research and you never know, you may come up with some alternative ideas!

The house pictured here, from Nash Baker Architects, had to meet the Code for Sustainable Homes (level 4) and Lifetime Homes standards, meaning that certain assessments of its eco properties were necessary. If you don't know whether your home might be similarly constrained, now is the time to ask!

Who will be responsible for the project?

As far as vital architect questions go, this might be the most important! You need a clear understanding of exactly who is taking responsibility for the project, meaning that if a problem arises, you know who will be fixing it and funding the repairs. 

While in some cases an architect firm will be taking total responsibility for a build, in other situations, a project manager or the construction firm themselves might be liable. It could even be you, so make sure you have all the facts before you agree to anything or sign off on a project!

What are good size for rooms for us?

Having thrown a lot of architect questions over to your design team, they will no doubt have a good sense of what you want to achieve with your project and what specific needs you are addressing, so asking for some advice regarding the best proportions for your rooms will be no problem. 

If you carry out the layout plan yourself, you might find that you miscalculate and create a small room that is of little use, so getting some professional advice as to what sizes will work best is a very good idea. We know you may have wanted a colossal kitchen, but if it will mean a tiny living room, are you willing to make that sacrifice?

How can I maximise the kitchen's potential?

See some of our German branded kitchens! Effortless style for your dream kitchen! :  Kitchen by PTC Kitchens
PTC Kitchens

See some of our German branded kitchens! Effortless style for your dream kitchen!

PTC Kitchens

Speaking of kitchens, a huge concern for many people is getting as much value out of their food prep era as possible, as it will no doubt become a hub for the home. By asking your architect questions, they will be able to advise you about certain layouts and designs that will maximise floorspace and countertops, while talking into account anything else that is important to you, such as a dining area.

Talking about maximising your kitchen might lead you to drastically alter your original plans, so whereas you were picturing a host of separate rooms, you may suddenly decide that open plan living would suit you better!

How many builders will be involved with my project?

Modular Home in Berry, NSW:  Bathroom by Modscape Holdings Pty Ltd
Modscape Holdings Pty Ltd

Modular Home in Berry, NSW

Modscape Holdings Pty Ltd

This might seem like a strange thing to ask, but if your project has been estimated to take 10 months, with a team of 20 builders, what happens to the timescale if only 13 come to work on the site? Plus, we think you'll be keen to keep track of who is actually working on your project!

Don't be shy about asking your architect questions about the team that will be building your home, especially if you didn't hire them yourself. You need to know how many people to expect on site, who they are and what their credentials are!

Can I replace materials but still expect quality?

A Living Room Conservatory:  Conservatory by Vale Garden Houses
Vale Garden Houses

A Living Room Conservatory

Vale Garden Houses

Naturally, you are going to want to keep a tight control on your budget and while this is possible with a fixed-price contract, anything that has flexibility could see your costs sky rocket. If this happens, you will need to ask your architect questions about material replacement.

We understand that budget is a huge concern, but is quality, so you will already know that you can't replace oak with untreated pine and expect the same longevity, but your architect should be able to advise you about suitable substitutions that will drive down costs, should you need to pare things back a bit.

Where can I save money without compromising on quality?

Broadgates Road:  Houses by Granit Architects
Granit Architects

Broadgates Road

Granit Architects

Similarly to the last point, asking your architect questions about how to save money on a project, without compromising on quality should become second nature to you, so don't be embarrassed or unwilling to get down to the nitty gritty and start saving money where you can. It might be that a different glazing system could be installed, or that you don't need underfloor heating. Whatever the cost-saving measure is, take it on board and consider it carefully before you make any decisions and always remember that communication is key, so keep asking those questions!

If you are thinking about building your own house, take a look at this Ideabook: Surprising Single Storey House Plans. We think you'll be shocked and inspired by some of the amazing designs!

Have you built your own home? Tell us what other questions you suggest others should ask their architects!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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