What is an Architect?
The title “Architect” is by law only given to people who have undertaken the appropriate degree level training (usually degrees over 5 years) and a minimum of 2 years “in practice” training before they take the Professional examinations to earn the title “Architect”. If you want to check if someone is an architect then the ARB (Architect’s Registration Board) maintains a current list of registered Architect’s in the UK. So in the first instance you are assured by their level of training in design, and management of building contracts.
The ARB regulate the Architectural profession and can strike off architect that do not comply with the obligations of the ARB
Why should I use an Architect?
An Architect has undertaken extensive education in the design process and has been trained to find the solutions to most design problems as well as being fully trained to run and manage building contracts on site with legal and technical understanding.
What is the RIBA?
The RIBA or Royal Institute of British Architects is the Professional Body representing Architects in the UK and abroad. There is an annual membership for ARB registered architects which entitles the member to be called a “Chartered Architect”, in addition Architects practices can be registered with the RIBA and be called a “Chartered Practice”.
My project is quite small, can I just use a draughtsman?
Yes for some small projects I would suggest that you could use a trained “Architectural Technician”, I would recommend checking the CIAT (Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists) to make sure you are speaking a trained professional though as there are many “rough” traders calling themselves “Designers” with little or no building knowledge.
What does an architect bring to the table?
Ideas and experience mainly and the ability to visualise in 3 dimensions to “see” spaces without current walls and beyond the current finishes and fittings. This may sound trivial but the large proportion of the population have great difficulty visualising and seeing what may work.
How much does an architect charge?
My first visit is free for you to discuss the project although I will ask if you would like to make a voluntary (no obligation) donation to Shelter for my time.
The costs depend on the project, what I do though is to give you a breakdown of fixed costs in writing as much as possible once I have met you and discussed the project with you.
For an idea a typical single area extension (like a sun room) would be around £2500 plus VAT of architect fees to get through planning.
Do I need to use an architect for the full process; can I run the build myself?
Absolutely you are in charge of our involvement in stages, sometimes just up to Planning, or to Building Regulations stage and then if you want me to pop to site to check progress I can come out on an hourly rate basis.
How much will my extension cost?
Build costs vary depending on the scheme, on average in this area small builds are around £1200-£2000 per square meter plus VAT (which may vary subject to government policy). As with most things it depends largely on the finish and materials you use. I would always suggest though adding on 10% as a “contingency” to whatever costs anyone quotes you.
What is indemity insurance?
To practice as a “Chartered” architectural Practice you have to have a current Insurance scheme in place to provide a safeguard to you as a client. The Insurance covers design issues for the project and also professional advice. It is not an insurance against construction works though.
What happens if the builder messes up on site?
This is complicated, the key issue is to have a contract in place, either a JCT contract or FMB version usually provides both parties with good safeguards and protection in the event of a dispute. I will always minute site meetings so there is a continuous record of the project but unfortunately sometimes there are issue that affect a build contract. The weather is always an influence and there are allowances in building contracts for especially bad weather like the amount of rain in 2012 for example.
I would note that all building projects are one-off projects and sometimes errors in timing or judgement do take place not maliciously but by guesswork, my advice is allow more time that you have given the contractor so that if something does hold up the work, like a late delivery of windows, you have some time contingency.
What does ‘Contract Administrator’ mean when an architect is runing the build on site?
The role of an Architect changes slightly when a Building Contract is in place. Although being paid by the “client” or building owner the Architect has a role as Contract Administrator which requires the Architect to be impartial when dealing with the contract issues and not take sides between building contractor and the client. This may sound strange but it ensures that all parties are treated within the Law of Contract (under English Law) equally.
The Architect reviews work on site usually fortnightly and minutes 4 weekly meetings and certifies the completed work for payment and at the end of the project agrees a “Practical Completion” date for the project and reviews the Defects and Final account.
I have a listed building, who should I go to for advice?
As an AABC registered architect (Architect Accredited in Building Conservation) I am approved to work on Grade I and II listed buildings and projects funded by English Heritage and Natural England as well as being an approved Church Architect for the Gloucester, Oxford and Worcester Diocese. As such I am very experienced in repairs and alterations to all Listed buildings and buildings of historic interest.