Know your brief
One of the first things you’ll want to decide before choosing your architect is what exactly it is you want and need from your project. Consider your needs first – do you need more space, a purpose-built room? You’ll need to think about what exactly the reason for your project is, this can help you navigate through some of your choices. When you’ve collected a list of the necessities you can then move onto your wants (don’t be surprised if some of your wants and needs overlap).
Using this collection of ideas you can then create a tidy, organised brief that you can bring to an architect. This both aids them in seeing your vision clearly, as well as you in seeing how the architect responds to your project. This is a great way to inform your decision.
Another factor you will want to consider before making any decisions on an architect is your ideal timeline for the project, is this a project you need done ASAP, or is it something you can do over a few months/a year? This will also affect the architect you choose – you may want to choose a company that is more efficient, or a company that will allow you to take your time making decisions within the process. Budget is also a very important deciding factor – before choosing an architect, make sure you know all of their rates and charges for services. You don’t want to get hit with any surprise invoices, so make sure to ask every company what is and isn’t included in their packages, or how much each service within your project will cost. This can help you choose the best architect in your price range.
A second, but quite important consideration to make is the location of the architects, and their proximity to where your project will be. An architect closer to home maay be a good choice. You will most likely have meetings at the property, for initial planning as well as further site visits. To make it a smoother ride for both parties choosing an architect that isn’t too far from home could definitely speed the process along!
What do they bring to the table
In your initial search for your architects you need to keep and eye open for what they will bring to your project. Have a look through their website, it’s always safe to leave them a message or even call them up to see their responsiveness to clients. Note how easy it is to get hold of them, perhaps even book a consultation to get an overview of how each company might handle your project. See how upfront they are about their charges, and check if they have any packages that might lend themselves to the project you are completing. This will help you later down the road, narrowing down your options.
Local council knowledge
It can also be a good idea to check on these companies’ familiarity with the local council – the rules they have in place for building and projects like yours. You can always enquire if the architects have worked within your local council before. Check if they have had any plans approved with your council previously, and if so it may be worth checking how long it took to get the approval!
You’ll want to make sure that the architects you do finally choose have a good understanding of your council’s planning requirements and building regulations. At the end of the day, the more knowledge they have, the more likely the plans are to be approved.
When researching your architect it is worth noting what experience and accreditations they have. To get the best possible experience during your project you might choose an architect that is accredited by the Architects Registration Board (ARB), as well as being RIBA accredited (Royal Institute of British Architects). You can also find out what degrees or training the architects have – you want to make sure that they have the right education and knowledge.
When you choose a company that has architects with these accreditations you’re more likely to have stricter guidelines to follow on their side – so your experience can be more streamlined and professional, and most importantly – easy!
Keep your options open
While researching the architects you are interested in it’s always wise to keep your options open. Begin by exploring all of your options, and then narrow down to your favourite handful using the factors above. Then you can follow up with these companies fully.
This way you don’t have to rush into any decisions and you can gather all the information you’ll need to ensure you make the best decision.
Check out portfolios
As you get towards narrowing your choices down, looking through the portfolio of the architects you have to choose from can help you see the styles of the architect. A ‘signature style’ is something all architects have – and will vary from person to person. It’s very important that you choose an architect that has a style you like. Look at the finished projects of these architects, and see if they are something you enjoy and can see in your home. It’s also important to see in their portfolio if they have ever finished a project similar to yours, this way you can see what features they have included, if the materials are something you like. You can also see the expertise that the architect has put into the project and so see their familiarity and success with similar projects.
Portfolios are very important when choosing an architect because they give you an overall scope of what style the architect caters best to and also the knowledge and finesse they can bring to a project.
If you have enough information at this point you can always go ahead and book in your consultations with the architect you have chosen and move on from there. If you’re still unsure there is always another steady option to consider. Asking friends or family, or even better a neighbour, for a referral to an architect they have worked with and would recommend is always a good idea. Getting a recommendation is a great way to get information on a company about how the process works, from someone who has experienced it first hand. A friend’s description will be less biased, and also less sales-ey!
You can also find reviews from previous clients online for most architects, these will give you more first hand recounts of other peoples’ experiences, which can inform your decision if you like the sound of them!