Tips for employing an Architect

In today’s economic turmoil, it is essential that you think carefully before appointing the design professional with your greatest asset ie the architect for your house.

The reason for this post is that I’m frequently seeing incredibly low prices to provide architectural services by others and it’s important for the consumer to understand what is required when employing an architect and to ensure that he/she is comparing apples with apples etc:

  • Is your ‘architect’ actually a registered architect ? Only Architects registered by the RIAI are legally allowed to use the title ‘Architect’. You can check whether your architect is registered by SEARCHING THE RIAI REGISTER
  • I’m not going to detail here why you should employ an architect for your project; suffice to say that an architect is the only design professional that has undergone the longest training in architectural design and construction and is able to design and build a house specifically to YOUR REQUIREMENTS.

  • When you obtain your quotes from architects and others; make sure you are comparing like with like; below is a list of commonly omitted items that you may be charged extra for:

    – Design changes and amendments

    – Additional drawings as Further Information requests from the council (very common)

    – A full and comprehensive set of construction/tender drawings that details every aspect of the build to ensure that you obtain an accurate price from your main contractor or sub-contractors and to avoid the hidden ‘extras’ costs. I frequently see drawings that are too detailed for planning and contain too little information to build from. This aspect is especially important with the changes in Part L of the Building regulations (Insulation, conservation of energy and airtight construction) and wherever you are deviating from a standard form of construction.

    – A full site inspection service; it is impossible to maintain a high construction standard if the site is only visited 5-7 times during the course of the build. On average I would be visiting the site weekly to ensure the project is being constructed as per the drawings/specification. I would also visit at key stages prior to any work being covered; foundations, damp proof course, structure, screed etc…

    I can give countless examples where I (and my structural engineer) have undertaken court reports & expert witness services where construction work has not been inspected and certified sufficiently – do you want your building to be built correctly ?

    – Bank certificates/reports – especially with the current bank problems; ensure that the service includes all the reports and certificates required to obtain finance and then to make the money draw-downs throughout the build.

    – Professional Indemnity Insurance – make sure your architect is fully insured for the value of your project. Again, in todays economic climate there are people out there providing uninsured architectural services.

    I will be returning to this post, as always, comments welcome…

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