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Benefits of using a Chartered Architect

WHY USE AN ARCHITECT?

The following is intended primarily for the prospective one time Client for relatively small or domestic work. The Commercial Client will hopefully have sufficient experience to already know the benefits of using an Architect.

The term ‘Architect’ is protected in law under the Architects Registration Act 1997 and anyone calling themselves an Architect has to have met the stringent qualifications set down by the Architects Registration Board and continue to meet the requirements of the Professional Code of Conduct. In addition, an RIBA Chartered Architect or Chartered Practice will have to meet further parallel obligations of Professional Conduct and have in place defined methods of working, employment, health and safety and propriety. An Architect will help you achieve your aspirations and vision, as well as add value to your project through good design and sound construction. Undertaking a building project, whatever its scale, can be a daunting experience. When you use an Architect you are employing someone who has undertaken a minimum of seven years of architectural training, both academic and practical before their first opportunity to sit their final qualifications – no other building professional is trained in design and construction to such a level of expertise. Anyone styling themselves ‘architectural consultant’, ‘building consultant’, ‘architectural designer’, ‘plan drawing service’ amongst any others is highly unlikely to be an Architect, and will not have comparable skill or knowledge; if they did they would be able to call themselves Architect and enjoy the value of protected title. An RIBA Chartered Architect can help you realise your objectives and guide you through the design and construction process. They provide a service that extends well beyond producing a set of drawings – they will handle the administration, bring value for money, peace of mind and imagination to your project whilst keeping it on track, but most importantly acting with Professional integrity and impartiality.

Regulation by both the Architect’s Registration Board, with whom all Architects have to have membership to enjoy the use of the title, and also the Royal Institute of British Architects means that a Chartered Architect faces the possibility of discipline, financial penalty or ultimately being struck off and removed from the Register should their actions or omissions dictate. Obviously one who has spent so long achieving this status will not knowingly jeapordise their right to use the term Architect and will always have consideration for this together with the public shame of a disciplinary procedure. No amount of Professional Indemnity Insurance can cater for this.

If you use someone who is unregulated then you will have no recourse through these two bodies, and the quality of service, even if only when and if the project encounters difficulties, that you are likely to receive from such people may well reflect this.

The Alternative

We encounter builders who offer a plan drawing service; rarely will they use an Architect and often provide plans that they prefer to build rather than plans constraining their actions to your desires. Very often, seemingly ‘cheap’ plans at face value are subsidised by inflated build costs. Those who provide an ‘independent’ plan drawing service are often affiliated with one or more builders and again an apparent cheap service is subsidised by increased build costs and hidden payments back to the ‘consultant’ through their closed tender or negotiation process.

Prospective Clients often view our services as an expensive non essential necessity. We are often called to sites after the event when the builder has suddenly become less dilligent, less friendly, seemingly oblivious to the Clients’ mounting frustrations and compromised amenity; the money is spent, the job is unfinished and the builder has lost interest and incentive. Very often in such circumstances there will be no formal Contract, or if there is it will be deficient in necessary detail, having been penned by the builder to represent their own best interests which allow late expressions such as ‘…well, I didn’t allow for that’ when talking of completion to your satisfaction against the agreed budget. We can help in such circumstances, but often at additional expense to the Client and quite often using an alternative builder.

I have met some very intelligent people during the course of my career who have thought nothing of paying the builder up front to the tune of substantial five figure sums simply because it has been demanded. Please, if nothing else, do not do this under any circumstance.

There may be others who through experience have an in depth knowledge of the building industry but they will certainly be deficient in terms of formal design training; fine if you want a very basic utilitarian extension, far less so if you want something which will accord with the original house and in time add capitalising value to it.

Would you ask a tyre fitter to change the timing belt on your £50,000 car on the basis they work in the same industry and there can’t be much difference between rubber hoops?

A Client Centred Service

Architects provide a service that is far more involved than just drawing plans: Adept at identifying the needs and aspirations of their clients, Architects will bring their special skills, knowledge and experience to a project often able to prepare proposals which exceed your original aspiration and maybe at more efficient cost. The Architect will help you achieve the best design for your budget and avoid expensive mistakes. Above all, whilst serving you we remain professionally impartial at all time.

Value for Money

Not only can Architects provide value for money, but professional attention to detail will achieve value through the efficient use of space, and careful selection of materials and finishes. Environmental sensitivity, energy efficiency, low running and maintenance costs can bring extra benefits to your project. Cost savings can also be achieved due to the Architects’ knowledge of ways to achieve the Client’s aspirations economically and efficiently. A Chartered Architect will provide the Client with independent and qualified professional advice on practical and cost effective solutions.

The fee an Architect charges relates to the amount of work that they have to do. By reducing the scope of services the Architect may be able to reduce their fee but this could increase the risk to the Client. In our experience Clients save on project cost by getting the design right before starting construction, tendering on a comparable like for like basis, and not finding need to change things during the build. Very often it turns out that this saving is greater than the amount the Client spends on Architects’ fees. We also have the power through a Contract to control the payments to a builder and ensure that you pay for nothing more than has been constructed and conversely ensure that you get everything that has been tendered for.

Freedom from Worry

Architects guide you through the complex procedures of planning permission and building regulations and monitor the builder’s programme of works through to completion. The Architect will advise on Building Contracts that are appropriate to the project and ensure that these are correctly in place and administered impartially. If required, the Architect will implement quality control and certification of progress payments through the Construction process. All Architects are obliged to be covered with professional indemnity insurance and have to demonstrate on an annual basis that their work is covered by an effective policy either individually or through the company that employs them. How often have you seen Grand Designs where the subject has chosen not to use an Architect and the project goes badly wrong? Wouldn’t you rather have such problems and annoyances being handled by someone else on your behalf?

Imagination

Whether you are looking for tradition or innovation, boldness or understatement, an Architect can lift your project out of the ordinary. Anyone can alter a building: It takes an Architect to do it with flair, imagination and style and introduce the Client to fresh opportunities and ideas. The Architect will help the Client ensure that the project meets their expectations. For example we have in the past been approached to extend a dwelling where we eventually proved to the Client that there was already a wealth of space and simple and cheaper rationalisation of the existing spaces provided them with a very economic solution. On a domestic basis you are likely to be undertaking the greatest building project of your life and stretching finances to make it work for you.

Your house is your greatest asset; why compromise it with anything less than the best?

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