How to Choose an Architectural Designer

Five key questions to consider when choosing an Architect.

Your architect will have one of the most significant impacts on your building project. Whether you have an existing property you wish to enhance, a plot of land you wish to develop or have a sensitive listed building re-vamp—it is important to be convinced that you have chosen the best architect for your project. Using a sympathetic architect who understands your requirements is more likely to be able to successfully take your imaginary dream house and make it a reality, all the while keeping you on track with planning consent and dealing with the authorities.

It’s a huge decision, so to help you in your journey we’ve put together a list of key questions to consider before appointing an architect you have plucked out of thin air.

#1 – Do you understand the value of your architect?

The wealth of knowledge any architect can bring to your project is almost endless, so it is important to understand what strengths you need them to bring to your building project. For example, are you likely to have complex negotiations with planning applications and building regulations; specific design requirements for storage and space saving; are you interested in a particular finish or material; perhaps you want to maximise natural light and not impose on the natural beauty of the area.

Your appointed architectural team will ultimately help to add value to your property, but as part of the process they will be able to design the perfect space for you to thrive and grow, and support you through the journey to achieving your dream improving your emotional attachment to your home and advising you along the way. 

#2 – Do I like the Architects portfolio?

Architects will naturally have their own signature style. It is important to research an architects portfolio, to get a feel for whether they are able to create a design which enhances the idea you already have. 

There is little point in hiring an architect if you will spend your time arguing that you prefer elegant industrial design, while they insist that intricate and ornate would work best in the space. Studying an architect’s portfolio will enable you to whittle down the long list of architects available in the East of Scotland. 

Remember “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – just because a painting is beautiful and well-proportioned doesn’t mean you would want it hanging in your home, it is a similar scenario when choosing the perfect architect to design your home.

#3 – What is the size and style of my home building project? 

Being realistic here is key to making the right choice regarding your architect. You don’t want to pay over the odds for a top-notch architect who specialises in large-scale timber framed housing, if you have a listed building which needs careful thought and sympathetic design. 

Likewise, if you have dreams of building an eco-friendly Passivhaus, you can further filter out the unsuitable architects for your project buy looking at specific skill sets – do they predominantly produce eco-friendly designed houses to enable you to save you on future running costs – or do they skim over this part and design for iconic beauty and comfort. 

In a nutshell – find an architect on your wavelength.

#4 – Should you take advice from people who recommend an architect?

If you’re considering approaching an architect that has been recommended to you make sure you understand why they are recommending them. 

Do they love the overall design and finish? Did they feel listened to? Were the architects easy to work with? Was it a good overall experience or are there aspects, you should be aware of that weren’t handled well?

More importantly, don’t be afraid to ask your friends who they used, if you have a terrible case of house envy!

Don’t worry, you can always google it if you don’t have any recommendations to consider – or you can take a look at RIBA.

#5 – Finally, have you outlined an overall plan?

You don’t need a long comprehensive detailed brief, just an outline to keep you on the right track when discussing your project. A simple list considering the following

  • How many bedrooms/bathrooms/reception rooms, 
  • Architectural styles you like,
  • Favourite building materials, 
  • Eco-friendly considerations
  • Timeframes and location
  • Budget

Ask the right questions, get the right answers – a phrase that’s often thrown around, surprisingly it is still as valuable in choosing the right architect as it is in selecting a new job or outfit for an upcoming event. Choose your architectural team wisely, based on these key questions and more than likely you’ll be building your dream house, with your dream team.