Architects offer tremendous value to a building project, as they are trained and experienced to understand the nuances of a building.
With this training and experience comes the knowledge and expertise to manage, procure and deliver the necessary information required for a successful project outcome.
Within this element are the individual characteristics of the architect; we may have received similar training but no two architects are alike, as we all have our own methods of working, and our own design ideas.
Think of it like a Matryoshka doll; the more variables that are introduced, the more the differences between each other become pronounced.
Some architects may favour practicality over any expression of form. You may be lucky to stumble upon the architect who offers a plethora of design options and works with you to find optimal solutions. Others may not be interested in fancy lines and just simply prepares your desired design option to be submitted for planning, and doesn’t care about the later design and construction stages or maybe offers this only as an ‘extra’ service. (For this type of architect, you are just another fee paying client until the next project comes along). And so on and on.
Well, how do you decide on an architect? Fact of the matter is that a large majority of people rely on word of mouth recommendations to make their next decision. This is despite the fact that while “Brian the architect” may have been suitable for your uncle’s nephew’s sister, they may not have been suitable for you and your project.
Here a few key strands to help make choosing an architect easier.
- Personality – Your project architect and you will have a working relationship that will likely last months, or even years. While all architects retain professionalism, it is inevitable that you may just not chime with your architect – we are human after all. So while it would be churlish to suggest seeking an architect simply to whom you are overly friendly with, getting along with them at a basic day to day level is something not to be overlooked, as it vastly influences the experience of the project. Communication is key. If you and the architect cannot communicate or appear on the same wavelength, the collateral damage is on the project.
- Experience – Some architects work at a larger scale, others at a smaller scale. In between are the ones that do a bit of everything. Some are accustomed to large budgets, others are used to minuscule budgets and can still craft something amazing. Experience shapes how your project is looked at and worked on. A smaller firm may have less hands but may offer a more tailored approach. A large firm may have all the resources to deliver your project quickly and effectively, but may charge larger fees and be more ‘robotic’ about the design process.
- Design ethos – Fan of sustainability and eco friendly solutions? Seek an architect who has a similar ethos and aspiration. Don’t care for the design and just want drawings produced to planning? An architect’s time may be better served elsewhere.
- Cost – Architects bring value added benefits to the completed building long after the work has been completed. A particular architect may offer the cheapest price, but this may be at the detriment of quality and time. Others may not be cheap, but are worth their price in the expertise, quality and craftsmanship they offer. An architect’s fee reflects their experience, the value upon the work, the time needed to produce the required information, and the level of effort they feel is needed to reach a satisfactory outcome. Be wary of an architect offering services at bargain basement prices – it may be light on your pocket in the short term but as the saying goes “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. An architect who promises a planning package for a few hundred pounds does not respect their profession nor do they value their own work. If they don’t value their own work, would you be prepared to take a risk and devalue your own asset? Find a moderated balance between cost, time and their quality of work.
Bluebead Architects – West London (Uxbridge)