What to ask your local architects

17 July 2019

Courtesy Sergey Zolkin

When you’re creating your ideal residential property, working with local architects can be advantageous. As well as having an in-depth knowledge of building methods and regulations, and a range of creative and innovative design ideas, local architects are also familiar with your area and geographical location.

While residential architects are adept at designing, planning, and creating stunning homes in any locale, understanding the surroundings and having knowledge of the local area can be beneficial, local architects are able to draw inspiration from the area when designing your new property, and this can ensure that your new home reflects the character of your area.

Furthermore, local architects will be familiar with the planning requirements in your location, as well as any limitations which may apply. If your home is situated in a conservation area, for example, local architects will already be well-aware of the planning issues this may bring up, and know how these can be managed so as not to affect your chosen design.

When you’re commissioning local architects, however, there will be plenty of ground to cover, so ensure you have a list of questions to hand. If you’re renovating your home, extending your property or building a new house, for example, you may need to ask your local architects a wide range of questions, such as:

1. Do you have a signature style?

Some residential architects are renowned for working on particular projects, and many focus on a specific style. Of course, you’ll want to ensure that the architects you work with will meet your design needs and share your creative vision. Finding local architects whose signature style matches your own design ideas and preferences can help to ensure that you’re able to collaborate throughout the process and that you’re fully satisfied with the designs they produce.

2. Do you work with specific contractors?

Many local architects will have a list of builders and subcontractors they prefer to work with. If so, this can have many benefits. As your architect will obviously have worked with these firms before, they will be confident in their ability to perform the work. In addition to this, contractors which are recommended by your architect are more likely to bring the job in on time and within your budget.

Working with people you’re familiar with can also streamline the process and ensure that everything runs smoothly. If your architect regularly works with specific builders and tradespeople, it’s likely that they already have a good working relationship, and this will benefit your project.

3. Can I be involved?

Architects work for a wide range of clients, some of which are very hands-off and happy for their architect to take the lead, and some of which prefer to be involved in every decision. Before you commission local architects, ask how they prefer to work and what level of involved you will be expected to have. If you want to leave your architect to manage the project, ensure they’ll be happy to do so. Similarly, if you’re keen to get involved in the design, planning and building process, let your architect know ahead of time. 

By conveying your expectations, you’ll ensure that you find the right architects to assist you with your project. Whilst some architects prefer to work closely with clients, others enjoy taking the lead. Finding local architects who complement your approach can lead to a more fulfilling working relationship and can help to ensure the project runs smoothly.

4. What are the challenges of my project?

Clients don’t always want to hear that their design ideas might not be viable or that they need reworking, but this is critical information when it comes to the planning of your new home. Asking local architects what they consider to be the biggest challenges of your project will enable you to find out exactly which aspects could be problematic. More importantly, by raising the issue of potential challenges, you’re giving your architect the opportunity to suggest appropriate solutions which are in keeping with your design preferences.

5. What services do you offer?

Architects work in different ways, so it’s important to establish exactly what services your chosen architects offer. Some specialise in the design stage, for example, whereas others routinely manage projects from design right through to completion. If you only require local architects to design your home and obtain planning permission, be clear about your needs from the outset. Similarly, you would prefer that local architects manage the entire re-build or renovation, ensure their range of services will facilitate this.

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