What does an architect do?

…and do I need one?

You’ve worked hard and saved money, spoken to your friends and family, and watched many an episode of Grand Designs. It’s time to take the next step. You’ve heard about architects, but what exactly do they do, and do you need one for your project?

Architects plan, design and oversee the construction of buildings.

The aim of the architect is to help you transform your list of goals for your project and turn them into a building or extension that gives you what you want (and perhaps a little bit more).

To do this, architects produce a combination of floor plans, technical drawings, models, 3D images and specifications to illustrate what your project looks like, and how it will be built. They coordinate and work with other consultants to guide you through the planning and building regulations stages, and provide builders with a complete set of instructions to work from.

But beyond the drawing work, architects can also help you get your project competitively priced, assist you when selecting a builder, explain the benefits of a building contract and monitor the project on site, making the process simpler for you, and less stressful.

To be called an architect in the UK you must be registered with the ARB (Architects Registration Board). Many architects are also members of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects).

These organisations promote a strict code of professional conduct which all architects must follow, giving the profession a reassuring level of accountability. For example, all architects must hold relevant qualifications, they must be covered by appropriate insurance, and they must be competent and act with integrity.

Other designers may be able to assist with many of the projects for which an architect would traditionally be appointed. For example, architectural designers are perfectly capable of preparing planning and building regulations drawings. However, unlike architects they are not regulated and there is no particular qualification that a person needs to become an architectural designer.

If your building project is very simple, relatively low cost and you have a trusted builder who can assist, then you may not need an architect (or any designated designer). However, it doesn’t hurt to have a conversation and ask for advice before you start, even if it’s just for some reassurance that you are doing the right thing.

It’s worth bearing in mind that even on a small project an architect may be able to add value, perhaps see things that others have missed, and will be happy to consider ways of making the project more efficient to save you money. Most architects will gladly talk through your project over the phone or meet to discuss things in more detail. At Workshop76 the initial consultation is free of charge.