Things to consider before I instruct an Architect

If you are considering a home extension there is a long laundry list of items that you need to check off before you begin the build phase of your project. The design and pre-site preparations lay the foundation for a successful build and finished project. The design is arguably the most important part of the project as it’s where it all begins.

Choosing an architect is difficult as everyone has individual design styles and expectations for the project. We thought we would run through some of the most important items to consider before instructing an architect to hopefully help you make the right choice.

Design

Experience is key to creating a strong and practical design. It takes years of experience in practicing architecture to understand what designs work well in reality (once built) and what doesn’t work so well. Having a thorough underlying knowledge in period properties in another key quality as it’s important to understand the quirks of the architecture. Here at Home Tales, each member of our design team has over a decade of experience in designing home extensions.

We offer free no obligation zoom calls with (who would be) your assigned designer prior to proceeding with our services. We understand you might want to check out some of their ideas and check you are on the same page before taking the leap, so we are always happy to accommodate these.

Practicality

A great design is wonderful, but it’s also got to be practical and comfortable to use. On occasion clients come to us with ideas or snaps from Pinterest which in theory look great, but they might have knock-on consequences which hasn’t been accounted for. For example, spilt level stairs are common in period properties and the level change affects ceiling height. This can impact the options for rooflights or roof style. All of our designers have a wealth of experience to talk you through the different options available as well as beautiful solutions for any quirks like these during the design development phase.

Budget

Everyone has a budget and we understand the importance of cost transparency throughout the design phase. While it is impossible to give a final cost indication of the project prior to the structural calculations being completed, we try wherever possible to help guide on cost throughout the design phase. We offer unlimited amendments in our design phase so you can create multiple different design options of different sized extensions or internal reconfigurations within. Our recommended builder can visit at this stage to discuss the cost implications of each option.

Structural engineering

It’s well worth checking whether your architect has a structural engineer on their team and whether they include the structural calculations and building regulation drawings within their scope of services. Many architects don’t include the engineering which makes more work for you as you need to find an engineer separately. Having a reputable engineer is important for two reasons. The first is having a secure structure is extremely important as it will keep your house safe and secure and structurally sound once those walls come down. The second reason is that having a good engineer will ensure the scheme is not ‘over-engineered’. Some engineers play it overly safe and specify huge unnecessary steel within extensions to reduce the liability on themselves. This results in overly large, unsightly steel beams within the extension and it also increases the build cost as the steel is particularly expensive. 

Here at Home Tales we have a fantastic structural engineer who has been on our team for over 5 years. He is brilliant and creates safe, sound structures that are not over-engineered. 

Planning

Most architects will offer a planning service alongside the drawing package but it’s worth checking just in case. It’s also worth checking their experience with your local council. Planning policy can be tricky to navigate and experience is key when dealing with applications. Depending on your area or property style, there might be additional documents which are needed for obtaining planning permission. If you are in a conservation area this could include a design and access statement. If you are near a river or the Thames, this might include a flood risk assessment. It’s worth checking that your architect has accounted for additional documents within the original quote and if not, whether they can provide them should they be requested.

Here at Home Tales we have a knowledgeable planning team with over a decade’s worth of experience. We’ve submitted hundreds of planning applications with a diverse portfolio of projects and within different areas of conservation and architectural importance.

References and reviews

References and reviews can help vouch for experience and competence. We are always happy to provide references before you commit to our design services. We also have lots of 5 star reviews for you to check out on Google and on Houzz.

If you are considering a home extension architect and want to learn more about services, get in touch with our team today on 0207 043 2378. You can also book a consultation via our live diary here or email our team on hello@hometales.co.uk and we would be delighted to help.


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