5 Questions to Ask Your Architect

It is important to know everything about your architectural project before you begin. Additionally, it is vital that you and your architect clearly understand the outcomes of the project and asking the right questions can prevent problems arising as the project progresses.

It is exciting and intimidating when undertaking a huge project so your prospective architect will understand that you have many questions. By doing so, you’ll immediately narrow your focus, determine your project priorities and put your mind at ease.

Here are the best questions to ask when hiring an architect to ensure that they meet your requirements and are a logical choice for your project.

Do you charge for an initial meeting?

Alternative architects offer different things during their initial meetings with clients. Often you will find that a short, one-off introduction and a chat about the basic outlines of your project is free, but you should expect to pay for anything more detailed. If you’re in any doubt, always ask prior to confirming the initial meeting.

A lot of great ideas and prospects can start flowing during an initial meeting with an architect and it can be a valuable procedure, which explains why some architects may charge for their first meeting. Their creative output plus years of experience can bring a lot to a project so if they do charge for an initial meeting, you’ll often find that it will be great value for money.

Are you a registered architect?

Did you know that the term ‘architect’ is protected by law? Therefore only fully qualified personnel can use it as their title. However, that doesn’t stop companies and individuals using variations of the term such as ‘architectural designer’ without necessarily being registered. For peace of mind we always recommend asking for clarification.

You can check that your prospective architect is registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB), whose database is publicly accessible.

Many registered architects are also accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and are therefore expected to conduct themselves in accordance with the RIBA Code of Practice. Additionally, an architect must comply with certain social responsibilities such as health and safety and Professional Indemnity Insurance.

What services do you offer?

It is important to establish the extent to which your architect will manage your project before all parties become too involved. Also important is how much involvement you want your architect to have.

Architects specialise in different skills and often other practices dedicate themselves to their strengths, so services can differ between one architect to another.

Some require an architect to elevate their original plans into a broader functional fully-comprehensive design where they can obtain planning permission. Others require a much fuller service, including technical specifications and managing contracts between contractor and client.

The type of client you are and what you desire from your architect must match what they can provide. It is vital to have the discussion with your architect very early on in the process to make sure their services are clear and you know what you’re getting for your money.

Do you have a construction company in mind?

It is common that established architects use a team of preferred builders that they have good experiences with.

You may find that employing a team that has worked together successfully in the past reassuring, or you may have your own construction company in mind that you want to proceed with. Both are fine, just make sure you communicate this with your architect as early as possible.

If you opt to go with the builders that your architect has in mind, ask if you can get a complimentary quote from them to give you a good idea of what the cost will be.

Can I see examples of your work?

This is the best way of finding out if your prospective architect’s vision align with yours. Asking to see a portfolio of work lets you examine their existing work and allows you to scope if they have a signature style or if their vision for their work is wildly different to what you had in mind. The best way to capture the essence of an architect is by seeing their past projects and seeing if they’re similar to what you have in mind.

Ask questions about what roles the architect played in the development on the project, how much it cost overall to complete each project, how much involvement both the architect and the client had in creating the design are all helpful when examining previous work.

You’ll find it reassuring to have such an open communication at this point and that is vital when moving forward into your project.