Why work with an Architect and how to select one?

Why work with an Architect and how to select one?

Why work with an Architect and how to select one?

Whilst a quick Google search of “Architects near me” will yield a long list of practices to work with it is best to first consider exactly what you are looking for.

All construction projects go through a number of stages and an Architect can be involved  in all or some of them.

Who can use the title Architect?

The title ‘architect’ is protected by law in the UK. It can only be used by someone who is on the Architects Register. Only ‘architect’ is protected in this way, the protection does not apply to terms like ‘architectural consultant’ or ‘architectural assistant’.

The Architects Registration Board [arb] maintain the Architects Register, the official list of the UK’s 42,000+ architects. If someone is not on the Register, they are not an architect – it’s as simple as that. Architects are highly qualified, hold appropriate insurance and adhere to the professional standards set out in the ARB’s Architects Code.

Below is a link to the arb site that provides more information.


What is a chartered architect?

A chartered architect is someone who is registered on both the ARB and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). They are therefore legally allowed to use the title “architect,” as well as being able to use the term “chartered” and the RIBA suffix.

RIBA chartered membership is voluntary and is not a legal requirement. However, it shows an additional dedication to the profession, working to ensure high-quality, environmentally friendly designs and excellent customer service.


What does an Architect do?

Architects have a wide range of knowledge and skills that mean they can support a project in different ways depending on your requirements, including-

  • Prepare feasibility studies and identify possible constraints
  • Produce conceptual and technical designs
  • Advise on other consultants that will be required for a project
  • Guide you through the planning process
  • Prepare construction information and lead on the building regulations processes
  • Assist with finding and selecting contractors
  • Administer the construction contract
  • Regularly attend site and certify work that has been completed

How to develop a brief before approaching an architect

Both the RIBA and ARB have some useful resources on how to select architects, which help potential clients set out the key aspects of their project and the questions they should ask the architect.

They also have a find an Architect page that links you to potential Architects.

The arb produce a useful form to enable potential clients to outline their requirements prior to meeting a potential architect.

Questions an Architect should ask

The more detail you have on a project, the clearer the brief will be, but sometimes the brief is more open ended and you are looking for the architect to put forwards ideas.

When we receive new enquiries, whether by telephone or email we will first want to understand what your aims and goals for the project are and then to move into more detailed questions, of which some are outlined below, that will allow us to respond in a meaningful way to your brief –

Where is the project?

The location of the project will be a major driver, to give good advice the architect would need to know where it is and if the property or site lies within a location such as the Green Belt or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The relationship between the property/site and other buildings, trees or significant views also needs to be factored in.

We would first bring up the site on Google Earth for a first look at the property or site itself and the position of other buildings roads, orientation, trees

We would then do a planning search for the property or site to identify any planning history or planning constraints associated with the property or site. A wider search would be to look at similar schemes nearby.

Other Points to Consider

  • Is the property Listed – Grade 1, II, II*?
  • Is the property in a Conservation Area, the Green Belt or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?
  • Do any Article 4 directives apply to the property?
  • Does the project require Freeholder Approval?
  • Does the client require full service including Contract administration or a partial service, for example Planning?
  • Does the project involve elements of Conservation and Restoration?
  • Are there any specific access requirements?
  • Does the project require an Interior Designer?
  • Does the client want to include for Sustainable Design or achieve Passivhaus certification for the project?

What are the Project Goals?

For domestic clients is the scheme Renovation, Extension, Conversion (Barn, Loft, etc) or a New Build?

For other projects this is likely to be more specific for example Housing, Office, Mixed use, Healthcare.

Some projects may have very definable goals, others though may be harder to pin down and may be a lot broader such as how to maximise a house given a budget or constraints attached to planning or listed building status.

An architect should give a potential client considered advice, which could even be that the project the client wants to do isn’t feasible, but there could be alternative options that may be appropriate.

Some potential clients may ask “How much is it to do the drawings” but the drawings are simply an output of the process, what you are asking for is expert advice.

For homeowners it is also important to consider future flexibility in the design of a property, or to be advised if they came to sell the property where they may want to future proof the design to appeal to a wider market. Our residential portfolio is split generally equally between owner occupier clients and developers so we can consider a project from both angles.

What is the budget?

Often a difficult question as clients may not know what they need to spend.

A good way to navigate this with confidence is to bring in a quantity surveyor [QS] at an early stage, the architect will lead on preparing a feasibility study based on your brief for the QS to prepare a budget cost plan against. As well as the QS and architect it may be advisable to bring in other consultants at this stage, to ensure that the feasibility study is robust and tackles the issues that could affect the project and its cost.

Has the architect done this type of work before?

This can relate to numerous aspects of the scheme including working on Listed Buildings, in Conservation Areas or familiarity of properties that come under the control of the estates such as Grosvenor, The Crown or Cadogan.

Other areas to consider could include, Preparing Construction Information, Contract Administration, Conservation and Restoration Work, Inclusive Design, Principal Designer, Interior Design, Sustainable Design, Passivhaus.

BB Partnership have a long history of providing Full Service Architectural Services, taking projects all the way from feasibility through to completion on site, we believe that our clients benefit by our ever-expanding experience informing each subsequent project we do.

Does the architect have experience of working with the local planning authority?

A very good way of finding suitable firms is to search planning websites where you know similar projects have been undertaken, you will then find details of the architects involved.

BB Partnership has extensive experience of obtaining Planning Approval along with Listed Building Consent in City of London, City of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Islington, Camden, Brent, Ealing, Richmond, Kingston, Merton, Croydon, Lewisham, Greenwich, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Bromley, Newham, Waltham Forest, Haringey, Enfield, Barnet, Hillingdon, Epping Forest, Harlow, Uttlesford, Brentwood, Hertfordshire County Council, Hertsmere, Maldon, Northampton

Does the architect provide services all the way through to completion of the project on site?

Although you may only require the architect to take the scheme through to the completion of the planning process it is important to understand the architects experience of delivering projects all the way through to completion on site, the benefits of an architect experience of all stages will allow them to factor the requirements of the next stages into the planning application.

For example a lot of planning applications include conditions relating to the detailed design of the proposed scheme such as energy performance, it is therefore vital that the approved scheme considers this aspect of it to ensure that the approved scheme is deliverable.

Does the architect have a particular style?

Some practices have a specific style, if you are approaching these practices then a client must be clear that they are within reason requesting that their project is in that particular style.

Other practices, including ourselves, do not have a signature style but believe in providing project specific solutions that respond to the clients brief and also the opportunities and constraints that all projects present.

What are the stages of a project?

The RIBA breakdown all projects into seven stages-


We generally cluster these seven stages into the below six, although on larger projects the feasibility stage may have more components, depending on its complexity.


It is always worth speaking with an Architect regarding your project, remember the Architect’s role can be for the whole process or just some of them and will be done on a stage by stage basis, so that you can always take stock before commencing the next stage,

We will always aim to give a potential client an overall fee structure broken down into the individual.

If you have a project that you would like to speak to us about then please contact us by emailing enquiries@bbpartnership.co.uk or calling the office on 020 7336 8555 and asking to speak to one of the directors Julian, Manuela and Sue.

Related News, Projects and Articles

BB Partnership have obtained planning approval to significantly extend a detached house in Chingford following a successful planning appeal against a previous refusal


BB Partnership have obtained planning approval to significantly extend a detached house in Chingford following a successful planning appeal against a previous refusal

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