Does it matter if the person I employ is a qualified Architect?

Often it does not, provided you employ someone who is suitably qualified. Employing the wrong person can be a very expensive mistake. We would strongly recommend that you take care to employ an Architect, a Building Surveyor, a Structural Engineer or similar. Check that they are qualified, and carry indemnity insurance.

We are currently involved in trying to unravel the problems created when buildings have been constructed without approval, and drawings produced that could be at best described as poor.
  • Your house and business premises are probably the biggest investments you make in your life. It would seem sensible to obtain sound advice.
  • If you need to borrow, to finance the work, you may find that the Bank requires you to employ a professional person. They require someone to certify the work on completion. They require people who are qualified, and who carry a suitable level of indemnity insurance.
Architectural Services Larne, Architectural Services Carrickfergus, Architectural Services Ballyclare, Architectural Services Antrim.

How do I check if someone is an Architect.

Simple go to the Architects Registration Board click here. All Architects in the UK are registered with them. If someone is not on that list then they are not an Architect. The ARB was established by Parliament in 1997. They continue the role originally performed by ARCUK. They are an independent body, who regulate the profession in the UK. The aim of the ARB is to ensures that good standards are maintained within the profession. This is to the benefit of the public and architects alike.
Architectural Services Templepatrick, Architectural Services Crumlin, Architectural Services Glengormley.

If I employ an unqualified person to produce drawings, will a qualified person then be willing to monitor the work on site?

Why should they?

We have found such requests  fraught with potential difficulties. It is usually not worth the risk. We do not under take such work unless we know the person who produced the drawings.

Architectural Services Belfast, Architectural Services Lisburn, Architectural Services Castlereagh, Architectural Services Glenavy.
Anything else I should consider when employing a professional.

It takes about 7 years to qualify as an Architect. That in itself is worth noting. Some Architects specialise in certain fields of Architecture and that may be important to you, but in most building types specialisation can be overrated.
Architectural Services Greenisland, Architectural Services Bangor, Architectural Services Randalstown.
What probably matters most is employing someone who you feel comfortable with. Pick an Architect who, will consider your project important. If you are considering a small extension to your house is there any point in employing a large Practice?
Architectural Services Newtownards, Architectural Services Ballymena, Architectural Services Carnlough.
In Architecture experience often matters.

We will be resorting and adding more specific help pages, and links as the site develops.

Is a Contractor designing and building a good idea?

  • Sometimes it is appropriate. If you are in a hurry, or are using a novel form of construction it may be a good option.
  • You still pay for the design and drawings, as the Contractor has to include this expense in his overall costs.
  • How do you compare the costs of such a contract with what someone else may charge?
  • Generally it is better to employ a professional, who is acting on your behalf. Problems may arise, and there may be disagreement between you and the contractor. In such circumstances is it a good idea to have the Architect employed by the contractor?

Is self build a good idea?

  • If you employ an Architect to produce drawings, and obtain the statutory approvals, and then employ a contractor to build, then it is a route that many have taken. It is a good way to obtain a house that meets your requirements. Provided you take sensible precautions regarding who you employ you should have few problems. This is a good option.
  • If you mean actually building it yourself, and employing your own tradesmen, then this is a problematic course. You have to know what you are doing, or have good contacts in the building industry. How do you know how dependable the tradesmen are? How do you know if they are doing the work right? How do you coordinate the work, know what material to order, and when? Do you have any plant or machinery? I would advise MOST people against this course unless they really know what they are doing, and are prepared to spend a lot of time on site.

Is saving on design and production drawings a false economy?

  • We all want value for money, but this is one area where it is difficult to compare quotes. A Builder prices on a set of tender documents, but Architects (or whoever)  are quoting on something more vague. How much time will they spend trying to arrive at the best possible solution for you? Will their price be so low that they throw any old thing together and move onto the next job?
  • How do you  know if a quote is actually good value? How do you know if the person quoting is competent? Checking the qualifications of the person quoting is a good start, and ask for references.
  • The cost of producing drawings is a small percentage of the overall cost of construction.
  • Saving on drawings and professional advice can later result in claims for extras. This can cost you much more than you saved on the drawings. It is a false economy.
  • If you want to keep costs down concentrate on obtaining competitive and accurate tenders. This is where the bulk of the costs is, and is where the bulk of the savings can be made.
  • Keeping what you propose as straight forward as possible will keep costs down. Often employing someone to explore the various options is money well spent! An experienced person, with a practical mind,can often propose better solutions.

Do I need Planning and Building Control Approval?

  • Most work requires Planning Approval. There are a number of permitted developments, but they of a very limited nature. Even if you believe you do not need approval it is best to obtain written confirmation from the Planning Service that you don't.
  • Dormer windows and the like do require approval. DO NOT BELIEVE ANYONE THAT TELLS YOU OTHERWISE! We are currently involved in trying to clear up the mess created by several ill informed Builders. There are hundreds of these loft extensions that never applied for either Planning, or Building Control, approval. Enforcement notices are being issued, and legal action taken. It would have been much cheaper to employ an Architect in the first place.
  • Contact your local Planning office if you are in any doubt. Phone us as we would be glad to help without obligation. Why risk running foul of legislation due to lack of basic knowledge?
  • Any work involving a structural alteration, or material change of use, requires Building Control approval.
  • You also need to comply with the current Health & Safety legislation.
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