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What does an architect do? And do I need one?

January 10, 2020

Spending on home improvements rather than moving home has clear advantages.

Homeowners save on stamp duty by staying put, as well as other legal and move costs, and it means they don’t have to navigate the housing market at a time when Brexit continues to cause unease.

But while renovating rather than relocating makes financial sense in itself, is an architect worth the extra cost? What do they do? And do you need one for your project? We’ve asked the property advice website HomeOwners Alliance, to give us the low down.

What does an architect do?
An architect can bring your project ideas to life. They will talk to you about what you want to achieve and then create a design and drawings accordingly. They are especially good at seeing the big picture and will help you think about things you may not have considered. For example, they’ll think about how to get light into the room, the flow of people and life-enhancing design features. They will also provide technical drawings where planning permission is needed and for the builders to use as a guide. Click here to read more about the advantages and disadvantages of using an architect

How much does an architect cost?
If you’re asking your architect to design and oversee the project through to delivery, then expect to add about 15%-20% to the cost of a project. If you don’t think you need a project manager but want someone to help you with the concept, you can pay from £250 for the expert consultation and a set of designs. Revisions may cost more. And if you want help with getting planning permission and need a home survey and drawings done, costs rise to around the £1000 mark.

While larger projects would usually be done by a Registered Architect, smaller home improvements can be done by Architectural Technicians or Surveyors sitting within an architect’s firm; this is a good option for keeping costs down while getting the design flair and experience.

How do I find an architect?
Start by shopping around. Ask friends you trust to give you their recommendations. But check the architect is qualified for the job before just going on their advice.

Get a list of local architects sent to your inbox today with our find an architect near you tool and discuss your project and budget with them.

Do I really need an architect for my project?
If you have a very clear idea of what you want, or a builder whose judgement and vision you trust, then an architect is less necessary. But you may still need someone to come up with a set of drawings and specification, so you and the builder are both on the same page.

Check out our guide on how to renovate without an architect. This covers how to get the technical drawings you’ll need (especially if your project involves changing the structure of your home), other sources of help to obtaining planning permission and building regulations and other factors you need to consider.

For more advice on home improvements, buying and selling your home, visit the HomeOwners Alliance website

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