Architects and surveyors FAQs

Below is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions we are asked at the start of a project. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, then please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your requirements with you.

Why do I need an Architect?

At whitworth our aim is that our involvement will add value to your project and that our experience can help unlock ideas within your property and scheme that can transform your space. According to the RIBA “Architects apply impartial and creative thinking to projects large and small, whether you are constructing, adapting or expanding a building. They will guide you through the design, planning and construction process from the early stage scenario of ‘what do I do?’ through to completion of the project. Architects add value, whether it comes from maximising the impact, functionality or marketability of a building.”

Why do I need a Building Surveyor?

If you are buying a new home or property, you may wish to engage a building surveyor, especially if the building is large or complex, has been altered in some way, is old, listed or dilapidated. You may also wish to have a surveyor look at your property if you are considering alterations, so you can review your options before proceeding. A building surveyor will be able to inspect the property and advise on defects and maintenance as well as the opportunities that the building may hold.

What is a Chartered Surveyor?

A Chartered Surveyor is a member of the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) RICS is a regulatory body for the professions and offers client advice when looking to appoint a professional.

What is a Chartered Architect?

A Chartered Architect is a member of the RIBA (Royal Institute of Chartered Architects). All architects must be registered with the ARB (Architects Registration Board) who protect the use of the title ‘architect’ and regulate the architect’s profession.

Are your Architects and Surveyors Conservation Accredited?

Yes, Philip Orchard & David Mizon both hold AABC (architects accredited in building conservation) conservation accreditation, while Stephen Boniface and Tony Redman are conservation accredited by the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). Even if they are not directly involved in a specific project they are always on hand to add their knowledge and experience where needed. Mark Cleveland, Matthew Stearn and Ed Thuell are all RIBA conservation registrants and are working towards full accreditation with the RIBA.

Do you offer an initial consultation?

Yes, we do. For all jobs, we are happy to come to your home or property and meet with you face to face to discuss your requirements, our ideas and how we may be able to help. This meeting is free of charge and there is no obligation to proceed. After the meeting, we will be able to provide you with a fee proposal and our thoughts on how best to move your project forward.

What survey do I need?

We offer a number of different survey options, which you can review here. We are also happy to consider tailoring our services to meet your specific requirements and would be happy to discuss these with you.

How much does an Architect or Surveyor cost?

The cost of professional fees for your project will vary depending on the scope of the work you are undertaking and we will discuss these with you before proceeding. Usually, for our architectural services, our fees are based upon a % of the construction cost but we also are able to undertake work on an hourly rate basis or for fixed lump sums. Our surveying and legal fees are based upon the complexity and details of any given project. All our fees however are worked out on a bespoke basis to offer you the best value for money.

How long might my project take?

It is difficult to quantify how long a project may take without the detail of what it might involve, in some instances if planning is not required it may be possible to be starting work within a matter of months, however for large scale works it can take considerably longer.  Once we have discussed your requirements with you we will be in a position to give you an estimate of how long the planning and design process may take, as well as how long the construction process could be as well, this will allow you to plan out how you approach your project.

Which Architect or Surveyor will work on my project?

Usually whoever you meet in the first instance will continue to be your main point of contact for a job. If it is likely to be anyone else then we will let you know in advance. It is normal though for at least one or two others to be involved within the overall process. This not only gives you the reassurance of another pair of eyes on the project but also if anyone is away or ill then we can offer ongoing continuity for you.

What Insurances do you have?

Should the need ever arise then the practice is fully insured with £5,000,000 employers liability, £10,000,000 public liability and £5,000,000 public indemnity insurance (PII) to give you full confidence and protection throughout and after our involvement,

Does your whitworth have a design philosophy?

The practice does not have a strict design philosophy which is imposed upon all our work. All our architects and surveyors approach jobs in a slightly different way. We believe that this allows us to tailor ourselves to better meet your needs. We do however impress upon our projects that we will create buildings meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations of our clients with due regard for historical fabric, environmental factors and overall building operations.

How regularly do you bill for your services?

For surveys, it is normal for us to bill for our service at the culmination of our work. For legal, architectural and other ongoing works then we will either bill on a monthly basis or at the end of each stage of work. This will all be set out for you in our fees and terms of agreement.

What services can you provide during the construction process?

The construction stage is known under the RIBA Plan of Work as stage 5 and you can read more about what services we can offer here. In short, though we can offer a full project management service, overseeing and regularly inspecting the work as it progresses, as well as drawing up and administering a building contract. We will usually undertake this role having initially undertaken the design work but we are just as happy to undertake an appointment as a standalone role.

Do I need any other consultants?

It is not unusual for a project to require the input of other consultants at some point during its progress. Most typically this may be a structural engineer or a quantity surveyor (who can advise on costs). However, at planning stages, it can also be necessary to employ consultants with expertise in the fields of ecology, archaeology, flood risk, trees and landscapes. We are able to advise on who and when any of these may be necessary and have a number of contacts to be able to help you place the most suited professional to your project.

How do I find a builder?

To take your design beyond paper and into reality, it is important to select a builder with the necessary skills and expertise to deliver your expectations. We are able to suggest appropriate builders for your project, knowing with confidence and from past experience that they are able to perform to the standards you would expect. Working across a wide geographic area also ensures that we can make local suggestions for you.

What is a party wall?

A party wall is an adjoining wall between two properties. If you work against or near to the structure of a neighbours wall then you will need to have a party wall agreement with your neighbour(s). Your neighbours can’t prevent you from undertaking works to your property but you may need to alter the method that the works are undertaken if there is dissent from your neighbours. We are able to act as party wall surveyors, as part of an ongoing project or as a one-off service.

Will I need building regulations approval?

Almost certainly yes. Most alterations to any building that are more than cosmetic will fall under some section of the building regulations. such as structural, thermal performance or drainage. This is usually included as part of our design process. We can also give one-off advice on any aspect of the regulations and how you can ensure your building project complies.

Do I need planning permission?

We will assess each project on an individual basis as to whether or not it requires planning approval and we can advise on the necessity of planning approval. Permitted development rights do exist for residential properties, whereby extensions under a set scale may not require planning approval. If your property is listed then all alterations, other than like for like repairs will require listed building consent.

Surveyor FAQ Videos

The following videos explore some of the answers given in the FAQ above in more detail. If in doubt please contact us.

What does ‘accreditation’ mean in the context of building surveyors?

How far can a Chartered Building Surveyor’s expertise help you?

Why employ a Chartered Building Surveyor?