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HOW TO CHOOSE AN ARCHITECT

When considering an architect for your project, the first thing you should do is check that they are actually an architect. It is very easy to do this by searching the online architects’ register. 

The title “architect” is protected by law – only those registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) can call themselves an architect in the UK. If they are not on the register then they are not an architect. 

Registration gives you the confidence that the person in control of your project has the necessary training and experience to do the job properly. Other conditions of registration include the obligation to act with integrity and honesty and hold adequate professional indemnity insurance. 

By contrast, titles such as “architectural designer” or “architectural consultant” are completely unregulated. 

Once you have established that they are suitably qualified, the best approach is to choose an architect that is the right fit for you, understands your needs and clearly shares your goals for the project. 

By all means seek competitive fee quotations but basing your decision wholly on price is not recommended. Fees may appear to vary widely at first glance but the difference will be small when considered in terms of the overall project cost. On the other hand, your choice of architect is probably the single most important factor influencing the quality of the final outcome – your completed project. 

Be careful not to be caught out with different fee charging arrangements. For further information see this guide to architects’ fees

It is worthwhile engaging an architect with a track record in delivering similar kinds of projects. Graeme Ditchburn Architect specialises in residential projects for domestic clients – new houses, extensions and alterations, conversions and energy efficient retrofit. These are the types of projects I enjoy working on, have a lot of experience in and are of a scale which I believe I am well suited to. 

Where your architect is based is also a consideration. A local architect is probably  less important if engaged to provide a limited “drawings only” service which may only require a few site visits. However, when a project is being built there are clearly advantages to the architect being based close by. It is easier to conduct regular site visits and meetings. A local architect will also l have a network of useful contacts and established working relationships with contractors and suppliers. It goes without saying that travelling expenses for site visits, which are usually charged in addition to fees, can soon rack up where the architect is operating from a distance.

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