How to choose an architect

by 2nd Aug, 2013

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Whether it’s a church re-ordering, a home extension or a listed building renovation, deciding to take the plunge and build is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. Once you’ve made that decision, you’ve got another one to think about: how do you choose the architect who will realise your ideas?

Use the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) website

In the first instance, it’s simple. The RIBA website has a handy Find an Architect application that will help you narrow down your choice. It will also give you the reassurance that you have chosen a fully qualified individual.

But where do you go from there? Once you have got your shortlist of architects, how do you go about choosing the one that’s right for you?

Personal taste

It’s about personal taste as much as anything else. Do you like what you see? Architects will use their creativity to open up a world of possibilities: the right architect for you is the one that delivers your wow factor. When you look at their portfolio is each design unique to the client so it’s delivering exactly what is required? Are their designs forward-thinking but also sensitive to conservation requirements where necessary?

Experience and recognition

You might also like to think about the experience your architect has of working on similar projects. And knowing your architect has worked on award winning projects in the past can give you confidence, not to mention vital cash and publicity if your project involves a public building.

Personal connection

You need to be sure you’ll be able to build a strong relationship with your architect – realising your vision will depend on this. You will only know whether you have this connection by meeting them. But it can be useful to talk to previous clients to understand more about their side of things. You might like to ask:

  • How interactive they were – were they there when you needed them?
  • How competent they were – did you feel safe in their hands?
  • How reliable they were – did they do what they say they’d do? Did they manage the process well?
  • Did they have integrity – did they try to save you money, were they realistic about what they could deliver cost effectively?

At the end of the day, if you choose a RIBA architect, you can’t go far wrong. But by taking the time to consider the more intangible things, you can build a strong relationship with your architect. It means that not only will you have the end result you always imagined but you’ll also enjoy the process of getting there.