Do I need an Architect?
Lots of people ask me if they require an architect for their project. The honest answer is no, you can remodel, extend or even undertake a new build without speaking with an architect. Obviously as an architect I wouldn’t recommend it.
I know that you’re thinking: “Obviously he’s going to say that, Architects are too expensive and a decent contractor will be able to complete my project without one.”
In truth, it’s well worth including architects in your project because we will bring a thoughtful evaluation and design, meeting and often exceeding your expectations. If your project is complex we can help you get it off the ground and ensure your dreams come true.
Grand Designs don’t happen without what McCloud believes to be the essential component of any home improvement project: an architect. “Expert help needn’t be impossibly expensive. Everyone deserves and needs to work with talented individuals. If you go to a good architect, your fees will pay for themselves.” Kevin McCloud
The Big Picture
Architects are trained to produce a detailed design based on your specific requirements and desires. We start with a design brief which is structured to capture your wishes and needs, and identify your underling drivers. This ensures that not only we see the big picture but also the pathway leading from concept to completion. Good architects will guide you along this path, initially by turning you brief into feasibility drawings.
During the feasibility stage, you will really find out if your architect has understood your brief and your dreams. At this stage, you’ll be offered several preliminary options which explore your ideas from different angles. Each option will offer interpretations of the brief and different solutions to design issues. At this stage, we would discuss each of the options exploring the potential and risk of each, then pull together your preferred aspects of each to develop a final design.
Many people think of architects as designers only interested in aesthetics, but it’s our job to ensure that the building can function, meets regulation and complies with CDM (Construction Design and management regulations 2015), not to mention the environmental standard you’ve specified or agreements with you contractor. Balancing aesthetics, practical layouts and structural safety requires navigating building material, construction techniques, contract administration, planning law and building control regulations, plus health and safety legislation.
An architect will help steer a path through these turbulent waters. Building on the feasibility drawings we develop your design into planning drawings and later a construction drawing package. The drawings will be submitted to obtain planning permission and later building control sign off. We’ll support you through contract administration with your chosen builder, obtaining discharge of planning conditions and act as your principle designer to comply with CDM. We will support you to collate the information required for environmental certification. Though working with an architect you’ll ensure that you have all the appropriate paperwork to allow your project to progress confidently and safely to the next stage.
After you’ve taken the time to brief your architect, build a relationship and develop your design with them there is no other professional who will understand the design of you project in better detail. Therefore, we are the perfect people to coordinate the various construction professionals before work starts onsite. We’ll communicate with the structural engineer, MVHR designer and contractors to ensure that they understand their role on your project.
The construction drawings act as instructions to the contractor to translate your dreams into details. They give him a programme of what should be done, but should a problem arise we will find a solution without compromising your design or your needs. Onsite we will support you through contract administration, visiting site on an agreed schedule to answer question and reiterating design intent.
At Eco Design Consultants, our architects are also certified Passivhaus Designers. This means that from day one the environmental aspirations of your project will be designed in and incorporated into each stage of the process. This can have considerable cost savings for your project, the most obvious is that you are not paying for two professionals. It also means that you are not having to add extra insulation because orientation wasn’t considered before planning permission was obtained or to compensate for a cold bridge that could have been avoided.
Once design and specification are completed we will continue to support your environmental aspiration through support to contractors who may be new to certain building products/techniques, collation of certification material and advice on interim testing. Obviously not all projects aim to achieve full certification but we can still support you to design in comfort and reduce fuel bills.
Need More Information
Architects in the UK are required to be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). You can check registration free on line at the ARB website. If an individual does not appear on the ARB register they are not an architect and are not covered by the standards and ethical code laid down by the body. In fact, they are not legally allowed to call themselves an architect in the UK if they do not appear on the register, it is a registered title
The Royal Institute of Architecture (RIBA) is a professional body driving excellence in architecture to deliver better buildings, places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. They achieve this by stipulating demanding standards for its individual and practice members. Eco Design Consultants are proud to be a chartered practice.