No matter what sort of work you are planning on doing – whether it’s a simple bedroom extension over the garage or you have a glorious spectacle of titanium architectural genius in mind – it is more than likely that you should employ the trained mind of an architect to help you out.
Sometimes, it can seem like employing an architect might be an expensive waste of your money, especially in these current times of economic difficulties. Other people believe that the process of hiring one might be confusing, and are put off trying it for this reason.
However, you really should get the help of an architect if you’re planning some big changes to your house, especially if you’re not 100% sure of what you’re doing. In fact, sometimes an architect might even be able to save you money! There are, however, some things you should keep in mind.
Do You Need an Architect?
If you are genuinely wondering whether or not you should hire an architect, the answer is almost definitely a yes. Take this as your rule of thumb: if it is anything other than a small project which needs no planning permission whatsoever, you should get an architect onside.
Why? Well, an architect can aid you in your project in myriads ways, from helping you to understand what materials you need to drawing up blueprints, from filing the planning permission application to overseeing the build to the finish.
How Do You Choose?
Before doing anything, ask around your friends and family and find out if any of them recently had any architectural work done – if they have, ask whether they’d recommend them or not. If they would, great! You already have an architect and can go on with the job.
If they’ve not had anything done, or the architect did an awful job, you should visit a few local architecture firms. A good quality architect shouldn’t be too difficult to find – use www.yell.com or search the internet yourself, or simply browse the phone book and make enquiries!
If you’re not sure about their accreditation, you can check on the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) website, or ask whether they’re on the ARB (Architects’ Registration Board). To be safe, if you’re suspicious, don’t hire them!
How Much Will You Pay?
Normally, an architect’s fee would be based on a fixed percentage of the overall construction costs, but it could also depend upon how much time the architect spent working on the job. You may even be able to secure a lump sum fee from the outset of the job, so speak to the architect beforehand to discuss payment options. The initial meeting shouldn’t cost you a penny, so use it wisely.
If you want a concrete hourly fee, we’d say somewhere around £80. Of course, this might vary wildly depending on which firm you visit, so the only way to find out for sure is by asking around yourself.