We understand it can be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the building industry to work out where to start with their project and as a result we get asked quite a lot of questions in regards to the process's involved. below are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) we receive. This list of questions is by no means exhaustive so please, should you have any further queries, or anything that isn't covered below then don't hesitate to get in touch and we will be happy to advise.
Why should I choose an Architect rather than just get someone to draw me some plans?
Architects are the only construction professionals who are fully trained to design buildings and to have a wide overview of all aspects of construction sufficient to coordinate all technical and legal requirements. Many people claim to be able to design buildings, however, unless they have carried out architectural training it is unlikely that they will have all the design and project management skills plus technical and legal knowledge necessary to provide you with as good a solution as an architect.
Is my project too small to consider using an Architect?
Size is not an issue to us in regards to an architectural project. We take on any residential project at all levels from the small lofts, extensions and refurbishment projects to large new build housing schemes. We always offer the same professional and creative approach to a project regardless of size. After all, sometimes the best things come in small packages.
Will my project be guaranteed to obtain Planning permission and Building Regulations approval?
No architect can guarantee that planning permission and/or Building Regulations approval will be granted because these decisions rest with the local authority. When engaged to submit an application on your behalf we consider all local authority guidelines and statutory requirements prior to submission to give the project the best chance of success. Sometimes exemptions to guidelines and similar provisions may have to be negotiated to achieve the best design solution for the project.
Why do I need Planning Approval for my project?
Planning permission is the responsibility of the local authority which is concerned with the visual appearance of the proposed work, its height and size and whether it is sympathetic to its location, whether it will overlook neighbouring properties, its distance from the road, and whether it conforms to the local plan. We will be able to advise if planning is required once we have had a look at the ideas for the project.
Why do I need both Planning and Building Regulations Approval?
Every project for which permission is required will need approvals from both departments. Building control is the process of ensuring that Government-set Building Regulations are met. Whilst planning approval deals with the aesthetics, looks, feel and size of the project, the Building Regulations in England and Wales are standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health of the people who use those buildings. The standards also include requirements to ensure energy efficiency and accessibility.
Detailed drawings including itemised notes and specifications on how the building is to be built are required. These drawings must identify the materials to be used and detail the construction’s compliance with all relevant Building Regulations and any other statutory requirements. Therefore, Building Regulations drawings are generally far more detailed than the drawings and design information required for planning approval. The Building Control Officer (BCO) will visit the site at key stages in the construction for inspections to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations. If the BCO has not been present to witness the constructions of, for instance, the foundations, he or she has the power to order anything constructed over them to be opened up so that the inspection can be carried out.
Who pays the Council application fees and how much are they likely to be?
All application fees must are paid to the local authority for both planning and Building Regulations. The client usually pays these directly to the local authority, and not as part of the architect’s expenses. A usual house holder planning application is £172 and a building control application charge is project specific, determined upon the m² area of the build and a percentage of any structural alterations.
Will there be the requirement of other consultant’s i.e Structural Engineers and how much will this cost?
The requirement of other consultants such as structural engineers is project specific and will be identified as the designs are progressed. The architect is not responsible for the work undertaken by any other consultants (such as a structural engineers) engaged on the project. Other consultants will usually be engaged directly by the client and fees should be agreed and paid directly to them. We do work with other consultants on a regular basis and will be able to recommend them at the most appropriate time.
We have a very limited budget so maybe I should get the drawings produced as cheap as possible?
To put it simply, when it comes to architectural services, you get what you pay for. The fee we charge relates to the amount of work we will have to do. By reducing the scope of our services we may be able to reduce the fee but this could increase the risk to you. In our experience clients save on project cost by getting the design right before starting construction and not changing things during the build. Very often it turns out that this saving is greater than the amount clients spend on a good Architects’ fee.
When can I have cost certainty on the project?
Absolute certainty on the overall cost of a project is very difficult to achieve. At the early consultation and ideas stage, it is notoriously difficult to attach an accurate estimation of what the construction costs will be for any but the simplest building projects. Market conditions may change, and in an area of, or at a time of, high demand for good builders, tenders can come back much higher than originally forecast. Planning ahead with detailed well-designed drawings minimises changes and keeps cost controlled. Essentially, the more accurate and detailed the drawing the more cost certainly a builder can price for. It is always good practice to put aside a contingency sum to help cope with unplanned occurrences.
What if something went wrong with our project?
We are covered by Professional Indemnity insurance and work to standards set by the Royal Institute of British Architects in the United Kingdom.
Can I have this all finished in time for Christmas?
Why use an Architect?
Architects can save you money.
A well designed building can have higher long term value and lower running costs. Architects try to create flexible solutions to change with you avoiding further costs.
Architects can reduce worry.
Architects can manage the design and construction process for you, guiding you through the decisions that need to be made, working in consultation and agreement with you.
Architects offer a flexible service, you can find an architect locally who can either give you an hour's consultation, carry out a feasibility study, take a scheme to submission for planning permission, undertake detail drawings or manage an entire project for you from beginning to end. The choice is yours.
Architects give you confidence.
Architects are highly trained professionals, required to undertake Continuing Professional Development to keep up to date with the latest developments in the field. Chartered architects are bound by a professional code of conduct.
ARB and RIBA Members.
You can Download this useful pdf from the RIBA to see exactly what an Architect can do for you