If you are redesigning or renovating a large proportion of your home, you want things to run smoothly and efficiently. After all, time is money. Hiring an architect can make a big difference to how your project is run and to the final outcome, providing a bridge between you and your building team that will ensure your ultimate design visions remain intact, but also accommodating the practicalities of a development on such a large scale. Bristol is currently one of the UK’s busiest and most thriving cities, meaning there will be plenty of candidates to choose from as you start your search for the perfect architect who can make your dream home a reality.
What are architect responsibilities
It is the architect’s job to outline plans and produce detailed drawings of how you want your home to be redesigned. They should talk through each stage of redevelopment with you step-by-step, so you know exactly how long the project will take and how much it is going to cost you. A competent architect should be flexible – able to respond to your ideas, work within budget and adapt chosen materials or finishes to suit the building’s function. It is also up to them to hire reliable and efficient contractors, and oversee construction – making sure it runs safely and according to schedule.
Here are some helpful guidelines to find the architect that best suits you:
- Looking for the right architect will take time, so make sure you partake in a wide and extensive search; ask friends, family and colleagues about any recent home improvements and if they can make a recommendation. Check websites of local firms or individuals to gain an insight into how they run their projects. Different companies may adopt different methods in their work; some architects may want total creative control, while others may offer a redesign tailored to the customer’s tastes.
- Bristol’s architectural styles range vastly from medieval to modern, so if you are looking to complement the local environment, the style of your new building-work – and where to find your architect – will depend on where about in the city you live. The City Harbour Area, for example has a large number of Tudor designed homes, while buildings to the North of the city, such as those in Horfield or Stokes Croft have acquired more of a Georgian feel; an architect involved in large-scale project should be able to recognise these differences and recommend styles accordingly.
- Does your renovation require a specialist? If you are refurbishing a specific room – undertaking a kitchen refit or a loft conversion, for example – you may find a number of architects who have expertise in these areas. They will be able to maximise the use of light and space and get in contact with a network of professionals who can supply the appropriate products or accessories at a cheaper rate. Just remember to check all the planning regulations with Bristol City Council before you get started.
- Set up some interviews with your most favoured candidates to gain an idea about the architect’s competence and ideas. Ask them about their skills and experience – have they worked for similar renovations before, or won any awards on local projects? Look over any drawings or design samples they bring with them to see if the style is to your taste. You should also check what services they actually provide – do they assemble specifications, produce blueprints and hire and oversee the contractors? Do they use the latest 3D software? These requirements will reduce your workload later on and are a clear sign that the architect tackles their work with dedication and enthusiasm.
- Make sure the architect is fully qualified; they should be a member of the Architects Registration Board, which confirms their seven years training, or the Royal Institute of British Architects. Although only the former group is compulsory, the latter requires all its members to have Professional Indemnity (liability) insurance, in case they offer unsound advice or make any structural mistakes.
- If you are intent on going green, will the architect be willing to look into eco-friendly options for the renovation? This might involve some extra time spent on searching for local materials – such as Bristol’s own supply of Pennant Sandstone, a popular choice for outer walls – as well as implementing a number of energy saving options into the overall design.
- Remember that communication is the key to a successful business relationship. You may be working with this person for a long time, so you should find someone who you can be comfortable and honest with, and who will maintain your overall vision. If your architect works with a particular group of staff, develop a friendly rapport with the team as well – you never know who you might need to see with enquiries.
Cost of hiring an architect
Hiring an architect can be expensive, but you should think of it as a worthwhile investment. There is no exact method for producing a rate – some architects work hourly while others require a final percentage of overall costs. Just be sure that what you are paying is within budget and firmly agreed upon on both sides. Once a contract is drawn up, you are ready to start the redesigns and preliminary work with your architect that will make your Bristol home one of the many in the city to be admired.