Do I need an architect?

So you’ve got an expanding family and need more space or dream of that kitchen extension opening up onto the garden. You’ve saved some money and you know what you want to do. Maybe you even have a builder in mind. Do you need an architect?


You don’t.

Maybe the build doesn’t need planning permission and can be considered permitted development in which case you need certificate of lawfulness from your local authority or in the case of a bigger build you can make the planning application yourself online. There is no legislation stating that an architect needs to be involved. As long as the requirements are met in full (drawings are at the right scale, correct statements made, required elements from other consultants supplied such as tree surveys) then the local authority will register and consider the application.


Architects cost money and it may be perceived as beneficial to cut out this cost however this can be a false economy in the long run. I would consider the following:-

Cost Certainty

Is the budget really tight? an architect will be able to provide you a fixed fee service which is agreed up front. The more detailed brief you are able to give the architect the more detailed quote you will get which will lead to increased cost certainty. Question the quote, make sure it covers all of your needs and if it is more than you can afford refine the services to fit your budget. You can walk away at this point.

Bear in mind that it is the building part of the project where unanticipated costs are more likely to come up, not during the design stage. A building project breaks down into three stages. Planning, detailed design/building regulations approval and construction. The longer you keep the architect involved the better quality and the more cost certainty you will have.


How knowledgeable are you about the planning process, able are you to draw and how time-rich are you? An architect will be efficient at making applications and bring their expertise and experience to the table which is likely to increase the chances of an approval, reducing any potential delays.


How big is the project? if its a really small change or amendment with limited scope for design input then one option is to work with an architectural designer, technologist or technician whose training is shorter and less focused on design which results in slightly lower fees. If there is any design input required at all it will really be worth engaging a registered architect who will look for every opportunity to exceed your expectations. This doesn’t doesn’t necessarily result in spending more but has the power to make you smile every day.

Other good reasons for working with an architect can be found on the RIBA website.

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