An architect’s work begins with an idea. Yours, as a matter of fact. Transforming that idea into reality is the difficult part, but that’s for the architect to worry about! At Whitworth, we are determined to turn your plans into bricks and mortar, with minimal effort on your part. Whether you have a new home, office conversion, kitchen extension or a fantastic new retail space in mind, our architects will be with you every step of the way.

But how do you work with an architect? Well, it’s as easy as one, two, three.

1. Finding an architect

Firstly, finding the right architect is crucial. Word of mouth commonly breeds good results, as a recommendation from a trusted friend or family member – especially when you’re able to view the work firsthand – is a valued method.

These days, many people also discover their perfect architectural firm online. Like us, many architects offer a portfolio which you can view from the comfort of your own home to give you an idea of their style and speciality. However, if you’re struggling with the wealth of information available to you on the internet, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) website is a good place to start (we’re listed, of course!).

Swiss Cottage: Exterior Shot

An exterior shot of Swiss Cottage

Brief

Once you’ve got one, or a few practices, in mind, it’s a good idea to make some notes about your idea to form a brief. Your brief might include your design style, function, budget (see below) and any other points which contribute to your overall aims.

Then, simply send over an email or pick up the phone to discuss your brief and whether the architect is able to deliver it. At Whitworth, we are happy to explore any type of architectural opportunity. Our award-winning practice has many years’ experience in commercial and residential planning and design, as well as health and education, conservation, and sustainable builds.

We’ll set up a free initial consultation with you where we can meet you in person to get more of an idea of what you’re planning to build. We are based in the heart of Bury St Edmunds, where we thrive amongst the variety of architecture across Suffolk. We also have offices in Bishops Stortford and Norwich.

Budget

Any type of construction is never one-size-fits-all when it comes to cost. You should have a rough idea of what your budget is before you speak to an architect. This way, they’ll be able to tell you if the budget is achievable, if there’s room for more, or if you need to compromise on some elements of your idea.

If your budget is tight, your architect should be able to recommend more cost effective alternatives such as less expensive materials, reducing the scale of your build, or putting certain elements of the design on hold until a date when you can afford them.

Cullum Cottage: Exterior Shot

A look at Cullum Cottage

Employment

Following your consultation and deciding on your architect, you’re likely to receive a written agreement detailing the work to be undertaken, fees and payment schedules, who will manage the project and all the nitty gritty aspects. Read it carefully before signing to make sure you understand everything you’re agreeing to.

After that, you’re ready to get the ball rolling!

2. Planning your build

This where your idea comes to life. Your architect will take your ideas on board and start creating technical drawings to start off the planning process. This stage is very collaborative, and you’ll find yourself in frequent contact with the architect as they pull together the details of your build.

It’s important that you give your architect as much information as possible at this point. Whether you’re making a decision on the type of windows you want to install, or you want to have a say on where your plug sockets are placed, working out all the kinks is essential as it’s harder to make changes once construction begins. Try not to leave any stone unturned – if you’re unsure about an aspect of the design, ask your architect about it and they will be able to clear up any confusion.

Bedford Kitchen Interior

A Bedford kitchen interior

Planning permission

Any new builds, or big changes to existing buildings, will require planning permission. If you are unsure whether you need planning permission, your architect will be able to tell you which areas of your design need approval. Information on planning permission is also available at Planning Portal.

Final plans

Once you have agreed on all aspects of the design, your architect will produce detailed final plans. These plans show how the building will look, detail structural systems such as heating and plumbing, and lay out the instructions for the builders including construction materials. The architect will also collate any documentation required for the project, including planning permission and Building Control submissions.

3. Executing the project

Architects have many contacts, and can make suggestions on which construction firm is best suited to your project. For larger builds, they can obtain bids from builders to help you find the balance between cost and quality. Once a builder is selected, the architect will take them through the plans. Sometimes, more specifications are added to the drawings in order to help the builder refine their fees, but you will always be consulted when it comes to making any changes.

Brooke Farm House: Exterior Shot

An exterior shot of an Essex Farmhouse

During construction, the architect can act as a go-between for you and the builder. They will have many jobs during this time, from ensuring that builders understand the design as it progresses, to protecting your budget. The architect may visit the construction site regularly to check progress, then report back to you with an update.

Once construction is complete, the architect will review the work to ensure that it has been completed to the client’s specifications. The handover will then commence, and your project will be complete!

If you need to employ an architect for your project, consider Whitworth for our easy-to-work-with approach. Give us a call on 01284 760421 or visit our contact page here to see how we could help you.