The New Year is our busiest time as architects. Maybe surviving another Christmas of cramming family and friends into the existing kitchen drives homeowners to want to do something about it!
So, if you’re getting ready to extend your home, here’s our guide on how to find the right architect for your project.
“WHEN FINDING AN ARCHITECT FOR YOUR PROJECT -
it’s not a one size fits all”
The key to finding the right architect is in knowing what you want to achieve from your project, and the best way to do that is by making a brief.
Whilst that may sound a bit dull (you just want to motor on and get it DONE!), what it actually means is compiling your wish list in order of priority, creating a mood board of places you love and listing what it is about your existing home that you want to keep, as well as those bugbears that drive you mad! Lastly, you want to get to grips with your budget and an ideal timeframe.
A good brief should be realistic and, alas, you won’t be able to get everything you want (unless your budget is limitless, but we’re guessing there are a small percentage of people in that boat!) so a brief will help you to clarify what your main priorities are.
By doing this work before you go looking for an architect, you’ll be more efficient in your search and more likely to find the right one for you. Plus, and we can’t emphasise this point enough, it’s not one size fits all. Extending your home is one of the most challenging and time consuming projects of your life so it’s vital that you not only trust and respect your architect, but that you like them as well!
Our full day workshop covers everything you need to know before starting a renovation project, including hands on help with making your own brief to take away. Find out more here
Find the right architect for you
Armed with your brief, it’s time to start doing some research. Where do you find an architect? And how do you know if they’re any good?
Word of mouth and recommendations
A good way to find an architect or other design professional is through a recommendation from neighbours, or friends and family. If there is other building work going on in your area there may be boards up outside advertising either the architect or builder. It’s worth getting in touch as finding an architect or builder with local knowledge and experience is valuable.
If you know or have been recommended a builder they might also put you in touch with an architect they use regularly to draw up plans for you.
Architects have two professional bodies; the Architect’s Registration Board and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the latter of which lists members working in your area. As a member of the RIBA, architects are required to develop and maintain their knowledge of the building industry, undertaking at least 30 hours of training every year to keep up to speed with legislation, materials and technology. We recommend checking both websites before hiring your architect.
The Modern House have an online directory of architects and designers which is well worth checking out, especially if you are looking for a contemporary, design-led practice to work with.
The home renovation site, Houzz is another great resource which lists design and renovation professionals with ratings from past clients. You can visit their website here.
Lastly, it’s worth registering with the Architect’s Republic, an online platform which puts you in touch with architects interested in your project. Start by providing some details about the project and you’ll receive a list of architects who are interested in working with you. From there, you shortlist your favourites and will receive proposals from them to review. Then you can set about meeting your shortlist before making a final decision.
We get a lot of feedback from our customers who testify to architects’ tardy responses (or no response) or their project simply being turned down. This is a great way to take the legwork out of finding an architect and to alleviate some of that frustration!
Don’t Move, Improve!
Every year the organisation ‘New London Architecture’ (NLA) hosts a competition to find London’s best and most innovative home extensions and improvements, called ‘Don’t Move, Improve’. There is an associated programme of events, consultations and an exhibition of the shortlisted projects, many of them by London’s smaller architectural practices. A free brochure is available to download via the NLA website which lists each project with its location, cost (inclusive of all fees and taxes) and the architects’ details – a great place to find innovative architects and inspiration for your own home!