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How to choose an Architect

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

Choosing the right Architect is critical to achieving the best possible outcome for your project. Of course, an Architect would say this, however there is good reason for making that statement.

The construction process can be a lengthy and expensive business and it is not always easy. It is important that you can set up a good relationship with your Architect; they need to be able to listen to you and you will want to feel like you can trust them.

Architects do not just create designs for buildings, but are also a fundamental part to assisting you in achieving your desired outcome. It is likely your architect will be the first point of contact you make and will assist you in making any other appointments e.g. structural engineers, builders etc. An Architect will also help you navigate the approval processes, deal with builders and generally guide you through the pitfalls of realising a your project.

It is for these reasons that we believe it is important to take time in choosing the right Architect. We suggest creating a shortlist of your preferred Architects and then meeting with them to discuss your project, this is why hmad|architects offer a FREE initial consultation.

The initial consultation is a chance to test the waters, obtain information, but also get a feel for what it might be like working with the Architect. To help you with this, at the bottom of this page, we have listed the most important questions that should be asked during the first meeting. 

Your prospective Architects will want to know what it is you want to achieve with your residential or commercial project; your brief. You may have a detailed list and understanding of what you are looking for or you might just want to make your home or business ‘work’ better for you but be unsure of what that means. Either way this will be the chance for prospective Architects to show that they will listen to you and engage with you by asking questions and building up a rapport.

Your prospective Architects should be able to clearly describe the process that you will be going through and propose the appropriate architectural services they can offer to you to help you with your project. Most of our clients have not been through the process before, and your Architect should guide you through what you can expect to happen.

Below is our process diagram that we use to explain the process to our Clients through. 

You will no doubt want to ask the prospective Architects what they intend to charge, however it is worth considering how the fee is calculated and what is included or excluded. The majority of the time we will set our charges out as a fixed fee, broken down into key stages, so that you will know exactly what you will be paying right from the start.

There is a tradition of Architects linking their fee to the construction cost on the assumption that the higher the value of the project the greater complexity and the input required. The issue with this method is that it can be seen to be in the Architect’s financial interest for the construction costs to increase. Whilst we would not want to suggest that Architects that charge this way are less than scrupulous we feel that it is better for both parties if fees can be kept separate from construction value.

We would suggest that the aim of the whole process is to not just obtain and compare bottom line quotes but to discover which of the prospective Architects can best listen and interpret your requirements and which can build a strong working relationship with you. We believe this is one of hmad|architects' particular strengths, why not get in touch to find out? 

Questions to ask a prospective Architect.

  • How much is your fee and how is it calculated?

  • What is included in the fee and what additional costs might I expect?

  • Can you tell me how much the construction of my project will cost?

  • Who from the practice will I be dealing with?

  • What happens if something goes wrong?

  • Have you worked on similar projects before?

  • Can you provide contact details of previous clients as references?

  • Can you describe the process of designing and constructing a building?

  • How will you show me what your designs will look like?

  • What are the challenges in my project?

  • What excites you about my project?

  • What sets you apart from other architects?

Find out what sets hmad|architects apart from other local Architects in Exeter, Devon. Get in touch today to arrange your FREE consultation with one of our experienced Architects. Our Architects specialise in conservation, heritage buildings, listed buildings, sustainable design and new build projects for both residential and commercial clients.

Call 01392 459 777 or email to discuss your home or business project in more detail.

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