Choosing an Architect

May 10, 2012 10:44 am

As architects we often stumble across problems encountered by clients when looking to appoint a design team, across the whole spectrum of project types and values.

Our recent experiences in recovering failing projects for clients has made us aware of some of those things that can and sometimes do go wrong when choosing an Architect.

Choosing an architect or architects practice

Choosing an architect or architects practice

To help others dodge the pitfalls of choosing an architect or appointing the ‘wrong consultant’ we have penned a few important points that we think you may find helpful:

1. First and foremost
Consider the nature of your project and how you wish to proceed. Establish your own outline brief early as this can help you choose an architect.

2. Invest time yourselves
Take the necessary time to choose the right Architect for you, and once appointed invest as much time and effort as you can into resolving the brief, reviewing proposals and understanding the information put before you. Careful consideration at this stage will reap dividends, and avoid headaches, as the project progresses through to completion.

3. Avoid appointing an Architect with no experience in your specific sector
Sounds like an obvious one but this does happen and can end in disastrous consequences. Most buildings are unique so the chances of a successful project can be increased by choosing and using an architect with sector specific experience.

4. Use expertise from an experienced practice
Providing your Architect has the right skill set and sufficient background knowledge there is added value to be gained from using their past experience and knowledge to guide you through the often complex briefing, design and delivery processes.

5. Look at the bigger picture
The “cheapest” Architects are not necessarily the most cost effective. Whilst a low fee will doubtlessly appeal initially, it is however very important to assess the fee proposal alongside a specific schedule of services. No two architectural practices are the same and levels of service vary from one to the next. Always take up references and review their strengths and weaknesses inline with what you want to achieve.

6. Gauge whether you can achieve a ‘shared vision’
Enthusiasm for many clients is vitally important in achieving a well-designed, functional and sound build. Sharing similar ideas and design objectives can be hugely beneficial in delivering a high quality scheme. A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.

7. Find out as much as you can
Approach different architectural practices and find out exactly how they can help you realise your objectives. There may be elements that you have skipped over or have not considered, so a second opinion or fresh set of eyes can be key. Seek references from previous client organisations.

8. Establish an open relationship and build trust
In many instances procuring a new building is a once in a lifetime event and open communication and clarity of understanding is essential for success. Clients must feel comfortable and relaxed with their Architect who in turn should be approachable on all matters. Failed designs often result from misunderstandings and break downs in communication.

9. Appoint an RIBA Chartered Architect or Chartered Practice
“When you use an RIBA Chartered Architect or Chartered Practice you are employing someone who has undertaken seven years of architectural training – no other building professional is trained in design and construction to such a level of expertise.” – RIBA.
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