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What is the role of an architect?

What is the role of an architect?

What exactly does an architect do? And how do they work with other professionals on a home extension project? If you’ve never undertaken work on your home before, knowing where to begin can be daunting. That’s why we’ve written this article, to explain the various professionals that are involved in a project, the role of an architect, and how an architect manages and coordinates the input of the project team during your project.



Different professionals needed for home extensions and renovations


There are different tiers of advisors and consultants that you will need to complete your project. These are:



1) Technical specialists


The top tier consultants are the technical and legislative specialists:


  • Architect to develop a brief, draw up plans and submit planning applications
  • Surveyor to measure the building and garden
  • Engineer to create structural designs and calculations
  • Party wall surveyor, if the project needs a party wall agreement
  • Building control inspectors; at 50 Degrees North, we work with a firm of approved inspectors who are very knowledgeable about building control. We also sometimes use the local authority building inspectors


Other technical and legislative specialists that might be necessary, though not always, include:


  • Planning consultant
  • Flood risk assessor
  • Environmental/sustainability specialist
  • Heritage consultant
  • Services engineer to advise on heating, cooling and hot water strategy. Sometimes they’ll also need to develop a lighting and/or audio-visual strategy
  • Arboricultural specialists to advise on conserving mature or protected trees
  • Transport specialist or construction management specialist


Depending on the project, its location and what’s involved, the second list of top-tier specialists may or may not be needed.



2) Other designers that may be required for a project


You may choose to use other designers for different aspects of the project:


  • Interior designers
  • Lighting designers
  • Landscape designers


These professionals might be particularly useful if you have a certain finish, look or feel in mind. Or, if the interplay between the indoors and outdoors is integral to the project, you may choose to have the outside space designed to create the ultimate outdoor living space.



An architect’s role in design and construction


It’s important to say – despite the number of professionals listed here – the beating heart of every project is the client-architect relationship. They are at the centre of everything. The brief that they define and the decisions that are made from day one ultimately guide the rest of the professionals throughout the project.


What roles and responsibilities does an architect have?


Architects don’t always have the largest role in terms of actually carrying out the works. However, they are often the first port of call when there’s a problem. We’ll often receive calls and emails from clients saying, ‘This has happened, we’re not sure who to call…’ or, ‘We want to change that, who do we need to contact?’ Your architect will be able to tell you – or point you in the right direction at the very least.


An architect’s network of professional contacts


It’s often said that the true value of a business is in its network. This is certainly true in architecture practices in London and beyond. An architect with a full-to-the-brim little black book will be able to put you in touch with any number of professionals you might need to complete your project. Even the most obscure! It’s something that we at 50 Degrees North pride ourselves on.


The value an architect brings to a project


The role of an architect can be broken down into three distinct areas:


  • Technical knowledge – an architect has the know-how to design a house, or an extension, or a remodel, so that it functions appropriately and looks great
  • Legislative understanding – your architect’s knowledge will ensure that the design complies with regulations, legislative quirks in different boroughs, and respects constraints whether they’re to do with building regulation, geographical constraints or otherwise
  • Contract management – an architect can manage the administrative side of things, between trades and clients


However, the value that an architect brings stretches far beyond these areas. Perhaps the most overlooked – and the most valuable – aspect of an architect’s role, is to keep the client’s vision alive. The knowledgeable and administrative functions of an architect (and there are many) are crucial, without doubt. These skills take the project from zero to completion, there’s no argument about that. Yet it’s the creative spark, the intangible artistic vision that makes your project a joy to work on.


Our blog on the services of an architect has more on why having an architect in your corner keeps the project on track.



Let a team of professionals help you get the best from your project


If you’re thinking of extending or renovating your home, get in touch. We understand that the process can be daunting. From sourcing and vetting different trades and consultants to instructing professionals and general project management, a home extension is a big task. An architect can consolidate that process and be a friendly, helping hand when you’re not sure who to turn to for advice. We’re happy to talk through your ideas and to help you bring your vision of a beautiful home to life. Call 020 8744 2337, and we’ll arrange a convenient time to speak with you.