How to choose residential architect in 6 steps

Amy Buxton Amy Buxton
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Whether you are planning a totally new build or buying a house with a view to adding some improvements, you might be wondering just how vital the services of an architect are. After all, there is a preconception that they are expensive to hire, so if you can do without, you will, right? 

An architect will give you access to untold expertise and will be one of the most useful people in your project team, so before you only think about cost implications, why not take a look at our article that asks how vital are they really? You may go in feeling a little bit unsure about the whole topic and finish with a far more definitive decision!

I want to build a house, who can I consult?

Front elevation of Broad Street House, Suffolk: modern Houses by Nash Baker Architects Ltd
Nash Baker Architects Ltd

Front elevation of Broad Street House, Suffolk

Nash Baker Architects Ltd

When you decide that you are definitely in the market for a new home build project, with everything starting from scratch, you will start thinking about the best people to consult. Automatically, you will consider builders and surveyors, but your first port of call should be an architect. They can tell you what is possible, what could be interesting and what your budget will stretch to.

Though this new build might look deceptively simple from the outside, Nash Baker Architects have invested a lot of design expertise to make it come across that way. You might have a great eye for design, but if you don't understand the fundamental principles of house construction, you might get a little lost. An architect will be worth their weight in gold for striking new projects.

Can my architect tell me what I need?

Residential Development, West Yorkshire: eclectic Houses by Wildblood Macdonald
Wildblood Macdonald

Residential Development, West Yorkshire

Wildblood Macdonald

The simple answer to this question is no. Only you and your family know exactly what you need and while an architect can certainly makes suggestions as to how you can get the best or most aesthetic value for your budget, they cannot tell you exactly what you need.

If you are hoping to hire a professional team so they can make important decisions for you, perhaps you are not as ready for a project build as you first thought. Take the time to consult with your family and make sure everything you want and need is written down and go from there.

What style of home do I want?

Now this is the million dollar question isn't it? What type of home DO you want? If you have some vague ideas about aesthetics that appeal to you, describe them to your potential architect, as they may have completed similar projects before and be in a position to show you examples of their work.

If you have absolutely no idea what you like, you can ask an architect for their honest opinion as to what would work best with the landscape of the proposed build site. From here you can then fine tune until something you really love has been drawn up.

Can the architect advise me about technical issues?

Schoolmasters eco house: modern Houses by build different
build different

Schoolmasters eco house

build different

Absolutely, yes! Any well-respected architect will be able to integrate technology that you love into your proposed design and should be able to answer questions about the practicality and functionality of it. If they can't, they will most certainly be able to point you in the direction of a trusted colleague who can.

If, for example, you want a super eco-friendly home that allows all your kitchen and utility room appliances to run on solar power, this is something that should be taken into account at the start of your design process. A seasoned architect won't find this task difficult and will actually be able to suggest newer technology that you might not have heard of yet!

Will it cost a lot to hire an architect?

How long is a piece of string? That is how conclusively we can answer this question! The cost of hiring an architect hinges on numerous factors, including, but not limited to, how long the project goes on for, how complicated your design is, how many problems the build encounters and the level of seniority of your dedicated professional. 

One thing we can say is that the benefits of hiring an architect can far outweigh the downsides, as you will have an expert in your team that can help to keep your project on track and on budget.

Is there a warranty involved with an architect build?

If you commission a reputable architect, there are certain levels of reassurance in the form of liability insurance and competency standards, so should the unthinkable happen and your new home collapses, if the reason is found to be poor design, there will be recompense.

Always have a solicitor read through any contract before you sign it, just to make sure that there aren't any clauses that look to remove liability, so that you can rest easy that you are building a dream home that will last a lifetime.

If you are thinking about commissioning a new project of your own, take a look at this Ideabook: Top 10—The Best New Builds in the UK. It's always good to see what other people are creating!

Have you ever hired an architect to help with a project? Do you have any good tips? We'd love to hear your experiences...
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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