Very few people have the need to hire architectural services on a regular basis. On the contrary it’s probably something most homeowners will do once in a lifetime. So it’s important to research what kind of questions you’ll need to ask potential designers for your project. This is, after all, something that’s going to cost you thousands of pounds and - unless you’re planning to move home in the near future – you’ll be living with for at least a decade or more. So, were the tables turned and we were the client, this is what we would want to know here at BDS Architecture:
1) Do You Have A Particular Design Style?
Some architects are well-known for specific design principles i.e. minimalism, emphasising period features, eco-design etc. That’s great if it’s what you want too. But if his design ideas don’t fit with what you like and your family’s lifestyle then it might be a better idea to go with another architect, especially one who listens to what you need and is prepared to start the design from scratch with no pre-conceived ideas about what your renovation should look like or entail.
2) Can You Recommend A Good Building Firm?
Anyone who provides local architectural services will be familiar with builders in their area and even further afield if those contractors come with a good reputation. But don’t be browbeaten into going with a particular firm. You should also get at least three tenders and if your architectural designer has time and the inclination he or she could perhaps help you go through them.
3) Will You Be Doing The Project Management?
Some firms who provide architectural services will project manage the whole scheme from start to finish. Others may expect you to hire an individual to supervise the builders, plumbers, decorators etc. This will, of course, add more to the cost of your project, in addition to the architect’s fees.
4) Will You Be Able To Show Me A CAD Drawing Before Going Ahead?
Anyone providing architectural services these days should be able to provide this. A CAD drawing is a three-dimensional image of what your design will look like. It means you’ll be able to view it on a computer screen and rotate the image so that you can see what your potential renovation will look like from all angles. An architect who can’t provide this is lagging behind the times, and begs the question – what other new principles/techniques is he or she not familiar with?
5) What Exactly Do The Fees Include?
Will the overall fee include planning permits and building control approval, for instance? And if not, will I have to do this administrative work myself or will you get someone else to do it and I’ll have to pay them individually?
6) Will You Be Doing The Design Yourself?
The beauty of hiring a small architectural design firm is that you know you’ll be dealing with the ‘main man’ (or woman) directly and that they’ll be producing the design. Signing up to a larger firm means the design will probably be done by someone else and merely looked over by senior architects.
7) Do I Get To Choose What Finishes I Want?
You may fancy marble worktops but your architect advises against them and suggests you opt for high quality laminate instead. This could lead to a fall-out between you, especially if you have your heart set on the former. Then there is the question of who goes shopping for the fittings such as blinds, ovens and bar stools (if a kitchen) etc. Establish your areas of authority and where you wish to delegate decisions (within reason), and where you need the flexibility to make the final decision yourself.
Find Out More
Get yourself up-to-speed with what you need to know for your renovation by looking through our main website BDS Architecture. You can also give us a call for a chat on 01332 830313.