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Problem Choosing Architect for 2 Storey Extension

Postby benawhile » Thu May 30, 2019 3:55 pm


We are planning to build a two storey extension to our newly purchased small detached 1956 built house near the centre of Basingstoke.
The house will require some re-modelling inside. Several of the interior walls are solid, but not necessarily load bearing. How the conventionally appearing hipped roof is supported may be an issue in regard to moving interior walls to enlarge a bedroom.

In spite of my years I have never done anything like this before, only isolated d-i-y- projects.

However this question isn’t about specifics.

It is easy enough to find architects advertising, and two have been personally recommended, but the problem is the massive step in paying between £600 to £1700 for the first set of drawings to planning permission before we have the vaguest idea what an architect may come up with, apart from them saying simply that the project is “do-able”.

Some architects offer a free site visit, and may make a very rough non committal sketch, the majority we have spoke to do not. But a site visit doesn’t tell us any more about what an architect has in mind.

What happens if an architect says a project is do-able but after being paid a stage 1 fee goes on to produce totally unsuitable plans, for example saying that an extra bedroom can only be provided by extending to the side boundary when the householder wants to keep the side boundary open?

One way round it would be to insist on minimum specific points as part of the contract, eg upstairs bedroom must be enlarged by moving wall, full size bathroom provided.

Another way would be to ask for more detailed sketches at an intermediate price.

Should I use the above options in my approach, or is that not feasible?

The other main problem is finding out to what extent the architect, or maybe the delegated builder, will manage the project.

Finally, would it be better to go the other way round, eg find a builder first, who works with an architect. Would I find out more about how the extension would be built before I had to commit if I did it that way?
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Postby Cottage-Renovator » Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:01 pm


Just my two cents:

- Difference in fee may be because one is more experienced (completed more jobs), or offers more in their scope.

- I'm not sure an architect will take liability for removing internal walls without some sort of structural advice. Even walls that feel like stud can be load bearing. Maybe this is also being factored into some of their pricing.

- I can understand why an architect won't want to give much more than an initial sketch because otherwise their ideas can be drafted by someone else. Builders have their own CAD technicians who can take things through planning so long as they don't advertise themselves as architects. Architects make their money from being able to see space differently to everyone else and produce a design that works for you;

- With that in mind. If you - the client- have requirements, the architect should keep within these, to a degree. If you say I want 'X', and they produce 'Y', you are within your rights to tell them they aren't meeting your brief. So long as you are clear with what you are looking for they should be able to help you fulfill your vision.

- Some architects may give you a range of options mind, some that meet your expectations, and then some that may push what you were considering further by as you say, moving external walls etc. This would be up to you to decide.

- If you were looking for some more information you could always offer to work more on a stage basis. I.e. pay for a concept design. Then pay for planning application stage. Then for technical design. That way you can keep the process within your control.

- Managing the project is usually an additional fee for an architect. Its a good idea to have the designer make visits to make sure builders are constructing to the original design, but this is usually budget dependent.

- Bare in mind, architects should never state that they WILL get planning permission, only that they can enter an application. Its up to the council to approve and depending on the contract (hourly rate vs stage payment) a refusal may cost more hours.

Hope some of this helps.
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Postby Hugh Schkok » Mon Jun 03, 2019 9:01 pm

Cottage Renovator offers some good guidance and if I may I will maybe add some more to an already comprehensive response.
Many Architectural Practices rarely get involved in projects less than £250k however that's not to say they wont. The Architect will have all the rules for the build at hand and design accordingly. He may produce a brief and clear it with the client and the Architectural Technologist will then take over the complete design and it is often him/her you will see the most.
Everyone want to be Lord Norman Foster or Zaha Habib and you will see their creations across the globe. Lord Norman Foster has recently completed a £2Bn project for an American News Agency from New York, in central London. Everyone would have liked to have been a part of that, me included. Smaller practices can only dream of such a accolade but they can't nor ever will make that level of Architecture. They grab at the scraps and elevate their status by creating something eye catching or just the good old regular house alterations/builds.
RIBA has a register of all registered architects and they are the best way of finding one. They are vetoed and confirmed as architects. It is illegal to use the title 'architect' and they protect it passionately. A celebrity house building show host was prosecuted for using the title on his shows. To all intents and purposes people believed him to be an 'architect'. However he was not and the courts relieved him of a few bob to let him know the error of his way's.
It is very easy to identify an architect designed home and a wannabe architects designed home. Just take a look and you will have a conclusion in less than 5 minutes. Basingstoke has quite a lot of architectural practices, select one and check them out at RIBA first. I live in the New Forest and there are not as many in Southampton as there are in Basingstoke and the University of Portsmouth produces some great architects and many may stay around after they graduate. Remember age is not a qualification. Younger grads are truly amazing and I work with some and can verify that fact. Don't be duped and good luck.
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Postby smith10matthew » Mon Jul 01, 2019 10:31 am

Simply my feedback:

Difference in expense might be on the grounds that one is progressively experienced (finished more employments), or offers more in their degree.
I don't know a designer will take risk for evacuating inside dividers without some kind of basic guidance. Indeed, even dividers that vibe like stud can be burden bearing. Perhaps this is additionally being considered into a portion of their estimating.
I can comprehend why a designer won't have any desire to give considerably more than an underlying portrayal in light of the fact that generally their thoughts can be drafted by another person. Developers have their own CAD specialists who can take things through arranging such a long time as they don't promote themselves as draftsmen. Planners profit from having the option to see space diversely to every other person and produce a structure that works for you;
With that as a main priority. On the off chance that you - the customer have necessities, the designer should keep inside these, to some extent. On the off chance that you state I need someone , and they produce another object, You are inside your rights to disclose to them if they aren't meeting your brief. Insofar as you are clear with what you are searching for they ought to have the option to enable you to satisfy your vision. Some designers may give you a scope of choices mind, some that live up to your desires, and after that some that may push what you were thinking about further by as you state, moving outer dividers and so on. This would be dependent upon you to choose. If you were searching for some more data you could generally offer to work more on a phase premise. For example pay for an idea plan. At that point pay for arranging application organize. At that point for specialized plan. That way you can keep the procedure inside your control. Managing the task is generally an extra expense for a designer. Its a smart thought to have the fashioner make visits to ensure manufacturers are building to the first plan, yet this is typically spending ward. Bare as a top priority, draftsmen ought to never express that they WILL get arranging authorization, just that they can enter an application. Its up to the chamber to support and relying upon the agreement (hourly rate versus arrange installment) a refusal may cost more hours.
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Postby Vaikinas » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:37 pm

My advice would be to look around to private persons working on their own or small companies. They are usually more flexible and easier to talk with. Prices for the same tasks might vary a lot, so make sure to get at least 3-4 offers. I recently was in your position and managed to hire one for 1500 Eur (working with BIM!) when most expensive offer was 7000 Eur :)
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Postby collectors » Thu Sep 12, 2019 1:51 pm

Personally i would have a measure of your existing house & draw this as a very basic plan & then draw in a different colour your extension & go to your planning office & ask if you will get permission. Make sure your land/boundary measurements are correct & any other buildings are marked that will be near the extension. Most local authorities/planning offices have 1 or 2 days a month for this sort of thing by appointment.
Remember to put all the measurements down & floor area sizes & what type of roof. Most of the rest will be building regs which is a separate thing after you got planning.
If its a simple job, you can do what i did & get the plans online. It cost me about £200 & he submitted the plans from Ireland to my local UK planning office. 4 week later i got a yes to build.
The odd thing is i also put in for building another house on my property & a local architect charged me £345 to draw & submit. (But didn't get permission)
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Postby DaveyTed » Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:30 pm

Some very good advice in previous posts especially approaching the council planning department informally to get an idea of what is likely to be acceptable.
From the recent experience of two near neighbours it might be beneficial to find a builder you like first and let him recommend an architect. My neighbours had plans done before appointing a builder and after starting both builders found problems working to the plans and revised their prices! One set of plans supported a loft conversion floor on a non load bearing internal wall resulting in wasted time and extra steels.
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Postby collectors » Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:34 am

I personally would go to your local area forums & look for recommendations as most builder that's any good won't have to advertise, most of his work will be recommendations. Also watch out for an architect's recommendations as many will "but not always" get a percentage from the builder that you won't see. It can also be worth sorting out a bill of quantities. This is a list of whats to be done to complete the job, like a price on the plumbing, electrics, the build & waste removal. This so when you get at least three prices, you can compare different areas of the works prices. If the builder is putting 10% on each of the trades prices, this is fair & normal.
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