Choosing an architect for your project


Building a new house or an extension requires help from a range of experts: from architects and structural engineers to the builder.

If the idea of searching for the right professionals seems daunting, let us help you. Over the next few weeks, we’ll give you the inside story about what each person does and how to find one that suits you. If you wish, we can always recommend professionals across the North East.


Why you need an architect

If you are thinking of building your own home or planning an extension, you need an architect.  If you want ideas about either project, we have written blogs on new-build homes and extensions.

Uniquely qualified to design buildings, architects can manage the entire project from concept to reality.

They are able to understand your ideas, even if they’re pretty vague, and turn them into the home of your dreams. And if there are technical or safety reasons why some ideas need to be tweaked, they will let you know so you can keep your dreams realistic!

An architect can also guide you through the legislation and regulations, such as planning and building consents, to ensure you stay the right side of the law. It’s a good idea to get them to manage your project as they are used to dealing with all the people who need to be involved in the process. They are also required to take out professional indemnity insurance, so if anything goes wrong your project is protected.


What does it cost?

Like any project, building a home or adding an extension is individual as you are. Costs depend on the size of the project as well as the type and complexity of it. You can use all or part of an architect’s services, whether that’s just a bit of advice and some sketches or a set of detailed drawings, we would always recommend getting as much detail down on paper at this early stage.

Design services cost around £1,000 for consultations and sketches and there are other fees for detailed drawings that are suitable for gaining planning permission.

Architects usually charge a percentage of the total construction cost if you instruct them to handle the entire project. The general rule is that the bigger the project, the lower the percentage fee.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) produces a very useful download called A Client’s Guide to Engaging an Architect. This will give you guidelines to fees and while every architect is different, it will give you an idea of cost.

It might be a good idea to negotiate a lump sum fee for a full service. Remember, never choose an architect on cost alone; you need to choose one that you feel comfortable with and who you will get on with.


Choosing an architect

A qualified architect should have completed seven years of training and gained membership of RIBA. They must also be registered with the Architects’ Registration Board. You could start by searching RIBA’s Client Services, which holds a database of 4,000 practices.

We can also recommend architects that we have worked with. Choosing professionals who are used to working with each other is a great idea because they already have a working knowledge of each other. This means there are fewer problems as they understand working practices and have a rapport.

You should ask to see portfolios from any architect before you begin and also try to visit any previous projects. Overall, you should choose an architect you get on with. You will be working together and they are using your money, so you want to choose someone you trust.

Once you choose your architect, make sure you get a formal contract written up with a clear brief. RIBA has a range of legally recognised appointment contracts that are designed to cover a range of project types.

If you would like us to help you find an architect, please contact us.