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What services does an architect provide?

Services of an architect

What services does an architect provide?

Are you imagining a beautiful home extension? If you’ve thought about doing work on your home, you may have wondered what services an architect provides. Most people who undertake projects for the first time know that they need an architect. Often, they’re unsure what to expect from an architect’s service, or even what questions to ask. That’s why we’ve created this guide, to explain what an architect does and how an architect can add value to your house extension project.



Architectural services


The service architects provide is a blend of technicality and creativity. There are three distinct elements to the service an architect provides.



1) Design and drawing services


An architect will listen to your ideas and help you shape them into a brief. They’ll draw a building design and communicate this design using two- and three-dimensional drawings, sketches and models. Architects use those colour or black and white drawings to communicate with yourself and team members in meetings.


At 50 Degrees North, our specialism is residential architecture. We work on new homes, groups of homes, and enhancing our clients’ existing homes. The three things that we provide are creativity, inspiration, and ideas.


Ideas plus experience equals magic. An architect brings their technical knowledge, their artistic flair and their design sensibilities, wrapped up in a comprehensive service that brings your vision to life.


Apart from the services an architect provides, you’ll get a balance of technical know-how and creative vision. Ideas plus experience equals magic. An architect brings their technical knowledge, their artistic flair and their design sensibilities, wrapped up in a comprehensive service that brings your vision to life.



2) Paperwork


Aside from the design and build element, home extensions generate a lot of paperwork. An architect’s service is invaluable during the pre-planning preparation, when submitting planning applications and during the build. Here’s how an architect’s service helps you with the vast array of paperwork that needs to be managed.


    • Stakeholder liaison:
      Your architect can assist with the paperwork related to liaising with landlords, freeholders, leaseholders or different stakeholders when there are various legal personalities involved. This is usually where the building is in some kind of group development, for example, a block of flats. Your architect can submit documentation such as ‘license to alter’ applications.


    • Planning permission:
      Your architect will prepare to make an application to the planning office. They’ll prepare documents, commission any consultants that may be required and will liaise with the planning department. Your architect will keep you informed throughout the process. As with any kind of process, it’s important to have all of your ducks in a row. An experienced professional is a big help; our blog on planning permission has more on the value of good preparation.


An architect’s service is invaluable during the pre-planning preparation, when submitting planning applications and during the build.


    • Party wall award:
      Where necessary, your architect can commission party wall surveyors and manage the paperwork around that process.


    • Building control submission:
      An architect with a good network will be in touch with building control specialists. Your architect will ensure that the building is signed off in line with building control. It’s possible to use either an independent firm or the Local Authority for the inspection. We tend to prefer independent building control firms.


    • Utilities submission:
      In some cases an agreement with your local water authority may be needed, should the works be in the vicinity of a public sewer. Your architect can handle the paperwork surrounding this.


    • Construction contract management:
      As well as handling the planning process, your architect can tender the work. Should you wish, your architect can manage your construction contract throughout the build and ensure work is running smoothly and up to standard. Not every client opts for full contract management. Many people find that they enjoy being involved in the process and are happy to manage aspects of the work themselves. Either way, having an architect on hand can be very useful.



3) Network (an architect’s team)


An architect will have a network who can help deliver your project. From builders to tradespeople, consultants to contractors, an architect worth their salt will have a packed little black book. Whatever service you may need, they’ll know more than one person who provides that.



Architects can manage the consultants needed for your project


Your architect can offer a service whereby they manage consultants throughout the project. Particularly if the project is complex, an architect can find relevant consultants, brief them, and commission them, all on your behalf.


Generally, there are two tiers of consultants you’ll need. These fall into technical and design-based camps.


Top tier consultants needed


Regardless of the project, an architect will require input from the following professionals:


  • An engineer
  • A building surveyor
  • A party wall surveyor (assuming the plans are subject to party wall negotiations)
  • Building control team


Other top-tier consultants may be required


  • A planning consultant
  • A heritage or conservation consultant, if the building is listed
  • A services consultant
  • An interior designer


These consultants provide services which help with the technical and legislative aspects of the project.


Second-tier trades and consultants needed


Services or consultants are unique to each project:


  • Bespoke joinery
  • Kitchen or bathroom design
  • Landscaping or garden design
  • A raft of specialists, which focus on special items, e.g. bespoke staircase makers or glaziers


Not every project requires all of the consultants listed here – either technical or design-based. It very much depends on the brief. Your architect will be able to provide details and liaise with the relevant people throughout.



The advantages of using the services of an architect


Aside from hands-on management, architects provide general advice. Clients often ask us, ‘What do you think about this?’ or, ‘My husband and I can’t agree on that…’ An architect can help you to resolve these things.


From a personal perspective, the most fulfilling projects that we work on at 50 Degrees North, tend to be those where there’s a personal relationship with clients. We’re residential specialists so we’ll often have very close contact with our clients. We’ll meet with them, with their builders, with their interior designers, share ideas, decisions and see the progress unfold as the client does.


There are many benefits of employing the services of an architect. Some are intangible and some are more practical. We’ll start with the intangibles…



Intangible benefits of an architect’s service


Think ahead to those meetings with builders, designers, maybe specialist consultants… what value does an architect bring? Aside from the technical and creative expertise, the nature of an architect’s service is that you have someone on your side. There’s someone in your corner, who’s keeping everyone’s focus on the dream and the vision.


Once discussions around the build begin, it’s very easy to be swamped by the sheer volume of decisions that demand your attention. You can quickly be swallowed up in the everyday ‘doing’ as opposed to the ‘seeing’ of the vision. Of course, these things will still be there, there will always be a budget, a timeline and real-world decisions to be made. The architect keeps that inspiration alive and safeguards the ‘why’, the reason that you’re doing this.



Practical benefits of an architect’s service


Being a guide for the client is one of the most valuable parts of an architect’s service. In discussions about the build, your architect may not know the finer details of everything. They may not know the specifics of every type of material available or the cost of that material. They do know somebody who does have that information.


An architect provides clarity and can point you in the right direction. If, for example, a certain survey is needed, an architect with a healthy network can take care of that. Or they can give you several contact details, allow you to make the choice and gain the information in your own way.



The benefits of a professional architect’s service



Perhaps the most valuable service a professional architect offers is exactly that – their professionalism. When you choose to work with an ARB-registered architect, you know that you are dealing with a highly trained, skilled and regulated professional. Likewise, choosing a RIBA-chartered practice gives you the reassurance that the firm adheres to professional standards, codes of conduct, has the appropriate levels of insurance in place, and is regularly topping up their skills with continuing professional development training (CPD).


When you choose to work with an ARB-registered architect, you know that you are dealing with a highly trained, skilled and regulated professional.


Aside from all of the obvious things like drawings and technical inspiration or creative design, the biggest thing to be mindful of with an architect’s service is their professionalism. Bear in mind your own ‘professionalism’ too. When searching for someone you feel comfortable working with, carry out due diligence. Search the ARB register, ask to see insurance documents or to speak to previous clients. There’s nothing to be frightened of, it’s more about finding the right mutual fit for the exciting project you have in mind!



Why not consider an architect’s service for your project?


Your home extension means you’ll be working with a team on your most valuable, most precious asset. And of course, any architect can make drawings or provide advice or technical information. Bear in mind that all of those things are simply skills deployed as services. Keep in mind your bigger picture. Take time to reflect on who you feel comfortable working with and how you see this individual or this particular practice helping you achieve your vision.


Whatever level of service you choose, it’s vital that you’re happy with your choice. If safeguarding your vision and seeing it through to successful completion matters to you, get in touch. We’ll be happy to hear what you have planned.