Renovating your home is an expensive and time-consuming endeavour - fortunately an architect can help to smooth out the process with invaluable expert advice.

The presence of an architect can make a big difference to how your building project or renovation is run and the final outcome of the project. An architect will provide a bridge between you and your building team, help realise your dream design and accommodate the practicalities of such a huge domestic development. It is the architect’s job to outline plans and produce detailed drawings; they should talk you through each stage of the redevelopment so you know exactly how long the project will take and how much it is going to cost you. Here are some quick tips on how to get the most out of your architect – for the lowest prices possible.

Budget carefully

First of all, you will need to make sure that you can afford to hire an architect in the first place. Set aside various budgets for your building materials, contractors, and any time off work you might be taking to get the job done, and then cross reference this with the overall budget to see how much is left spare. Secondly, shop around to get the best deal – ask friends, family and colleagues about any recent home improvement projects they might have had done. If they employed an architect, ask the most important questions – were they competent and professional, but also affordable? You could also look around for local companies, or even search online to get a more exclusive deal.

Choose the right architect

You should always hire an architect who is fully trained and certified with the Architect’s Registration Board (ARB) – this is a legal requirement in the UK. You may also want to hire someone registered with a respected organisation such as the Royal Institute of British Architect’s (RIBA); they require all their members to be completely covered by Public Indemnity (liability) insurance. Looking around for a specialist architect who is trained to work on your particular project might also help save you money. If you’re simply undertaking a kitchen refit or loft conversion, for instance, you can usually hire an architect who is fully trained in these areas. If, on the other hand, you are planning on a new conservatory or extension, then an architect specialising in these areas can help redesign the floor layouts and even help you obtain all the correct planning permission.

Alternative payment methods

If you’re worried about paying your architect in one lump, fixed sum at the end of the project, then you could always look into the numerous alternative payment schemes available to you too:

  • Percentage of construction cost – if you don’t want to end up over paying your architect, then you could always offer a deal whereby they take a percentage of the final construction cost at the end of the renovation – that way you ensure they get a fair wage which you should be able to estimate with your preliminary budget. For an architect who simply helps out in the design and planning stages, that cost will usually be something between two and five percent. If, however, you request a full service – where the architect stays on site until the project is completed – then you should look to pay around 10 to 15 percent of the final construction cost.
  • Hourly rates / pay-as-you-go – alternatively you could hire an architect who will simply work at an hourly rate – usually somewhere between £75 and £110, depending on the scale of the project and the sort of work you want done. You might still have to pay an additional one-off consultation fee (around £80), but this method ensures that you know exactly what you’re paying for – and also allows you to monitor their hours to make certain you don’t exceed your budget.

Of course, the best architects will always be as flexible as possible – able to respond to your ideas, hire reliable and efficient contractors, work within budget, adapt chosen materials or finishes to suit the building’s function and oversee construction during all the hours you are unavailable. But when hiring you should always be looking to compromise, especially if cost is one of the more important factors in completing your renovation. It may sound like unnecessary expense, but hiring an architect can provide invaluable insight into how to get the best out of the space and materials you have – so hiring one should prove a very worthwhile investment.

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