As a rule of thumb, if your project needs planning permission, you'll probably require the services of a town planner and/or an architect. The extent of the work you commission, however, is in your hands - and depends largely on the scale and complexity of the scheme.

The architects and town planners at Laurence Associates can guide you through the entire process, whether it’s a new build or extension, from concept and design through to completion.

We are unique in that our town planners and architects work in synergy, with a holistic approach to project needs.

Good design will add to the value of your home, ensuring your budget is used to maximum effect.

Architects are highly skilled professionals who can navigate their way through planning rules, building regulations and contractual obligations, and ensure the work is professionally done.

Planning authorities expect to see high quality design in support of applications, and cutting costs in favour of basic designs could be to your detriment. The Government advises planners to reject poorly designed schemes which fail to improve the character of an area.

According to Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud: “A good architect actually pays for themselves – more than once. You will reap the reward and the building will be highly better and deliver much better value for it.”

How to choose an architect

The relationship between you and your architect is crucial, and it’s essential that you take the time to make the right choice for you and your project. Your choice of architect should never be determined by cost; rather by the quality of service they provide.

The importance of having mutual trust, a strong rapport and understanding of the client’s needs, and good two-way communication cannot be overstated.

Here’s some helpful tips:

  • Shortlist three or four architects in your area. A good place to start is the Architect Registration Board, which keeps the official register of all architects in the UK. Only people registered by the ARB are allowed to use the name ‘architect’ in business or practice.
  • Research the services they provide and the type of projects they’ve been involved with. Does their experience match your vision?
  • Arrange to meet at least three architects on your shortlist.
  • Ask to see their portfolios and, if practical, visit a couple of their schemes.
  • Follow up references and speak to local builders and other tradespeople. Few things beat a personal recommendation.

Once you’ve chosen your architect, you need to set the parameters of the brief and draw up a contract. Clarity on both sides is key. Discuss the fees, which might be charged by the hour, as a flat rate, or a percentage of the build cost. Remember you’ll need to stick to the brief once it’s agreed; chopping and changing through the build is a recipe for disaster.

Call us to talk through your project queries; we do not charge for initial consultations and advice: 01872 225 259.

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