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Should I hire an architect for my next project?

Hire architect or not?

So you’ve decided to start a new building project. The idea, enthusiasm, and money are in place. But before you get carried away, you might want to think about how you’re going to bring your vision to life. One key question to ask yourself is if it makes sense to hire an architect.

What does an architect do?

The role of an architect is multi-faceted. Their primary duty is to design plans for buildings, or parts of buildings. They consider things like construction, aesthetics, usability, and, above all, safety.

Architects are extensively schooled at university and receive years of on-the-job training. Among other things, they study building design, architectural history, theory, construction methods, and maths.

They are licensed by regulatory bodies, which vary depending on the country and/or state. For example, this link takes you to the Pennsylvania, USA, State Architects Licensure Board. And you can learn about the ARB, the UK’s regulator of architects, here.

During projects architects can liaise with clients, builders, city planners, engineers, and others to help clients realize their vision.

Practical things to consider

The decision to hire an architect will often come down to a few factors. These include:

1. Scope of work

For basic projects, such as updating a bathroom suite, it might be unnecessary or inappropriate to hire an architect. For example, if there is little, or no, structural work involved working with a specialist builder/ contractor might be a better option. But you should also consider:

2. Planning regulations

The requirements of planning departments vary greatly depending on location. Some planners take a hands-off approach, especially with smaller projects. Others want to know about all facets of the job before granting permission.

Once permission has been given, some planners make impromptu inspections and zealously shut down jobs if they come across something unexpected. Anticipating such issues might make it appropriate to hire an architect. They can draw up plans, work with you to get planning permission and, if necessary, act as an overseer.

Often, an expert architect can push back against a planner’s interference or make reasonable compromises to keep the project on time and within budget. This brings us to:

3. Cost

Architects are highly qualified, regulated, and skilled professionals. As such, they expect to be paid well for their work.

But, depending on the project, architects can end up saving you money. That is because these experts anticipate issues and make recommendations before you put a proverbial “spade in the ground.”

And, in today’s property market, buyers might be comforted in the knowledge that you got an expert’s input on a project. Some might even be willing to pay a premium for that peace of mind. Lastly, depending on the work, a well-known architect’s name can add value over and above the cost of work done.

What to do next

In many cases, the decision about hiring an architect will be obvious. Thinking about the points above should help you clarify matters and make a success of your next building project.

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