If you're looking for a home renovation and want to turn to the pros, here's some tips on finding the right architect to make your house dreams come true.
1. While architects can be expensive, they don't have to be and their knowledge and experience can be worth its weight in gold. As well as offering design expertise, architects can add value in lots of ways.
They have technical knowledge, can help you negotiate the building regulations, party wall and planning process and can manage the project from start to finish, if you want them to, including finding and managing tradespeople and consultants.
As they use these people regularly for projects, they may be able to get better prices than you can. They can help financially in other ways, too, such as devising the best design for your budget, improving energy efficiency and increasing your home's saleability and value.
2. A good first step is to go to the 'find an architect' section of the Royal Institute of British Architects' (RIBA) website. When you've found some suitable candidates, find out if they're interested in your project and what sort of ideas and relevant experience they have. If you can see similar projects they've done, this will give you a good idea of what to expect.
It's also important to have a good relationship with your architect, as how you get on and work together can play a big part in the success, or not, of the project.
3. Once you've chosen an architect, drawing up a contract and giving them a clear brief is vital. Also establish how you'll be paying them. Some architects take a percentage of the total cost of the project, some charge per hour for the time they spend on it, and others charge a flat fee.
4. Your chosen architect should send you draft plans so you can see if they've understood what you want or not. If you'd like changes to the plans, make sure you see the revised versions before they're sent to the local council for planning permission - in my experience, miscommunication between you and your architect is all too easy.
Your architect will also need to draw up plans for your builder and building control inspector - don't get builders round for quotes until you have these plans because they won't be able to work out the cost of the project.
5. If the prospect of finding and employing an architect seems too daunting, some building companies will do it for you. Loft-conversion specialists, for example, usually offer a complete renovation package, including the services of an architect, which makes life