This is the first in a series of articles to simplify the process of achieving great architecture – whether the home, the office or any building.

Quite often when I visit clients to discuss their initial plans to build, one of the earliest questions I’m asked is, ‘how much is the architect’s fee going to cost me?’ Of course, I totally understand why.


I like to explain what the architect does and the series of tasks that are required throughout a project.  I hope this demystifies the role of the architect, helps to explain the level of involvement required and I find it also paves the way to a good working relationship.


Many people think the architect turns up in his corduroy jacket with patches on the arms, looks at the site, goes back to his studio and simply scribbles a quick sketch on the back of an envelope. The sketch then turns into some crude plans and the builder cracks on to complete the rest.  How wrong most people are, if only it was that easy.


Since the advent of TV programmes like Grand Designs and internet sites like Pinterest, more people are interested in design. But an architect adds something more to a project. He adds vision, experience, as well as how to deal with the builders.  For instance, I’ve seen projects where people have added all the pieces they have seen and then been disappointed with the result. But why allow that happen?


An architect will listen to your ideas and draw them, showing you what works and, just as importantly, what doesn’t!   A good architect will produce further drawings to refine and improve his initial thoughts to get the right proposal.


Another question I have been asked is ‘can a good building be achieved without an architect? It can, but, I can’t think of any examples. However, on a cautionary note, architects are very different from architectural designers or plan drawers.   I am often told they are cheap and there is good reason for this. They don’t have the experience or vision of an architect, who has trained for a minimum of seven years before qualifying! The architect should take your thoughts and budget and push them to the maximum.


If you are in any doubt whether the person you have asked is qualified to do your work, check with the Royal Institute of British Architects or RIBA, as it is commonly referred to.  RIBA can supply you with the names of people in your area most suitable to the budget and scale of your project. They have an excellent Newcastle office who will help you.


So, my advice is always, employ the right people and enjoy the journey of design in the comfort of a safe pair of hands. The Architects cost should be seen as part of the investment of getting it right and enjoying your office, home or factory for the next 20 years, rather than regretting some cheap hasty decisions. It will most likely save you money!


Cheers – Neil Turner

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