The best way to find the right architect

You’ve already decided to take a huge step in your life – choosing to build your own home. But how do you bring your vision to life?

 

An architect is the answer but finding the right one involves forward planning. Your chosen architect can take your project brief and create a bespoke design to make your dream home a reality.

You may wish to employ an architect in the early stages of your project to offer guidance on design, cost, planning permission and construction. If your project is more complex it may be worth working with an architect throughout your self-build journey.

All build projects kick off with an initial briefing followed by design development, preparing documents for planning permission, producing technical drawings for building regulations, plus construction and handover.

A couple talking to an architect
It is essential that you and your architect are both on the same page in understanding your vision, requirements and how you’d like to manage the project.

Write a clear brief

First, outline your aims and your budget. It is essential that you and your architect are both on the same page in understanding your vision, requirements and how you’d like to manage the project. Detail your reasons for embarking on this project (e.g. I intend to build a modern family home). Think about the kind of design styles you prefer whether that be contemporary or sustainable. Do you plan to project manage the whole build or do you need an architect to assist? 

Think carefully about everything you want from your project when it comes to writing that all-important brief for your architect. Setting your goals and expectations from the beginning will provide structure which will create a successful relationship with your chosen architect.

Plans on table
Look for an architectural practice or individual with experience of your type of project – visit their website and look at their portfolio of work.

Choosing an architect

The title ‘architect’ is protected by law (Architects Act 1997), so that only those who have trained rigorously, and are fully qualified, can use it. Be cautious as some companies call themselves ‘architectural’ designers – this can raise a red flag that they are not eligible. 

All architects must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB), with most taking up RIBA membership also. 

Look for an architectural practice or individual with experience of your type of project – visit their website and look at their portfolio of work. Do they have the required accreditation if you wish to build to the Passivhaus standard, for example? 

Check out similar projects to yours that they have built and follow up on any references they provide. You’ll begin to build a picture of how well they communicate, how they handle change and manage budgets.

One of the best places to find a qualified and reputable architect or practice is on the Royal Institute for British Architects’ (RIBA) website. RIBA is a global professional membership body committed to excellence in design and customer service. Visit www.ribafind.org to generate a list of Riba members who may suit your needs.

Stamp on plans

Find out three ways that choosing the right architect could save you money here.

Planning