WHY USE AN ARCHITECT?
We sometimes hear “but using an architect will be expensive!” – We’d like to dispel this myth. What we often find, is that people who embark on a build project without an architect will often spend more and incur greater time delays due to ill-advice, lack of guidance and poor technical knowledge.
Using an architect will ensure that your project progresses smoothly for both you and your chosen builder. Not only that, but we can help maintain cost-surety throughout and alleviate stress and any worries you might have.
How much or how little you commission an architect is up to you – from an initial design discussion through to the final delivery of the project on site. The building process has many stages, and you may not want an architect for all of them.
WILL I NEED PLANNING AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Any new exterior building work that exceeds the permitted development size (i.e. up to six meters or eight meters if your house is detached) will require planning permission (see below for further explanation). If the house or building is listed, planning will be required, even if the works are internal. Any external work will need planning permission if you are located in a Conservation Area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or World Heritage Site.
Planning application drawings need to be compiled and submitted to your local council with a signed certificate of ownership. Once validated, the application should take eight weeks for an approval decision.
For some proposals it is good practice to consult your local parish council and councillors for their comment prior to the application. Any planning application will be put before the local parish as well as the county council. The parish planning committee have a right to object which carries a lot of weight. This is however not required for simple, smaller projects.
It is always advisable to speak to your neighbours about any proposed building work. This is mainly out of common courtesy, but direct neighbours living either side of you, will always get a letter outlining your proposals, and have a right to object. So it makes sense to give then some pre-warning of your intentions.
A useful guide for submitting planning applications can be found here.
WHAT IS PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT?
Permitted development is the right to build some extensions or garden buildings without planning permission. If your house is located in a Designated Area, such as a National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Conservation Area then your permitted development rights may be restricted or removed under what is known as an Article 4 direction. This is where rights have been removed in the interest of maintaining the character of the local area. This could also be the case if your property is a listed building.
To find out if your proposal falls within permitted development, your local council can confirm for a fee of £50.00 (correct for 2019).
General guidance can be found here.
HOW DO I MAKE SURE A PROJECT STARTS WELL AND I GET WHAT I WANT?
An initial and consultation is free of charge. If you have considered what you would like to achieve and already know your budget, you will get as much as possible out of this first meeting. It’s also helpful to have clarity on your likes and dislikes – you might want to consider the look and feel of similar projects you have seen. Try to make clear decisions throughout the journey and stick to them: this always helps a project progress efficiently and economically. Changing your mind later, after agreements have been made and work has started may incur delays to the project and increase your final cost.
IS MY PROJECT TOO SMALL TO USE AN ARCHITECT?
No building project is too small (or too big!) when deciding to use an architect. Remember that although architects will bring a ‘design’ element to a building, we appreciate not all clients look for this.
I WANT TO DO A SELF-BUILD - DO I STILL NEED AN ARCHITECT?
If you have ideas of your own for the design of a building – that’s wonderful and it’s important to have creative input. However, having an architect on board who has the skills, knowledge and experience of designing and building will help the project run smoothly and to budget.
WHAT CONTRACTS ARE REQUIRED?
A Professional Services Contract should be made between the client and architect to record the terms of their appointment. Sometimes a smaller written agreement is appropriate. This should set out what tasks the architect will be doing, the timescale, fees and payment details.
A separate contract or agreement should be made between the client and contractor or builder later on.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO USE AN ARCHITECT?
Fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the overall build cost and are usually between 5 to 12% of the total, depending on the complexity of the project. This would cover our architectural support for the whole project duration and the price would be split according to the project stages such as planning, building control and site monitoring for example.
Lump sum fees are common for more simple projects which have a clear scope and are unlikely to involve many changes. These prices would be based on the estimated time taken to complete the project. New build projects often have a smaller fee percentage than some restoration projects, as they are less likely to contain unforeseen issues
HOW DOES AN ARCHITECT WORK WITH A BUILDER?
Builders and architects have different expertise, which if used together should really benefit the project. For small projects, people often go straight to builders to discuss their ideas. A builder may be able to offer a design and build solution, but they will also often go to an architect or architectural technician for planning and building control help at this stage.
Engaging the services of an architect direct will allow you to confirm designs and building construction proposals before going to one or more builders to get quotes. A lot of architects will have builders they know that can discuss the designs early on, to advise on current building costs and buildability (a project management technique to review construction processes from start to finish during pre-construction phase) of proposed designs and vice versa.
The architect does not have to provide their services for the whole of the construction process, this may be just planning or building control. You can decide how much help from an architect you need.
WHAT ARE MY HEALTH AND SAFETY OBLIGATIONS?
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects. This is mainly to protect workers on any building site and to help prevent work-related accidents. It also applies to how buildings are maintained, such as, access arrangements for cleaning. The regulations changed in April 2015 and apply to both domestic and commercial clients. The regulations place a duty on the client to make suitable arrangements for managing a project, principally making sure duty holders are appointed (i.e. a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor).
For further information about the regulations applicable for domestic clients, please visit the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.
WHAT IS A PARTY WALL AGREEMENT?
Party wall agreements are something you need to know about if you’re planning an extension or renovation next to an adjoining property in England or Wales. The Party Wall Act 1996 is designed to help you undertake work – providing access to neighbouring properties – while protecting the interests of your neighbours.
A party wall agreement, covered by the Party Wall Act covers shared walls between semi-detached and terraced houses, or structures such as the floors between flats or maisonettes plus garden boundary walls. In addition to alterations affecting the structures directly, the effect of any excavations within three to six metres of the boundary can be covered by the Act if the foundations are considered likely to have an impact (based on depth).
Please visit the Gov.uk website for further information on party wall building works.
IS THERE ANYONE TO COMPLAIN TO IF I HAVE A DISPUTE WITH MY ARCHITECT?
Every registered architect is legally obliged to register with the Architects’ Registration Board or ARB. The ARB exists to regulate the architecture profession for the benefit of the public.
Part of their role is to investigate complaints about an architect’s conduct or competence. If you are unhappy with your level of service, and have a legitimate complaint where you are not able to talk with your architect and resolve issues between you, then you are entitled to speak to the ARB, who will investigate on your behalf.