Architects don’t just design buildings. They are also familiar with all aspects of building construction; the local planning system; building regulations; the various laws governing new building work; dealing with contractors and subcontractors to get the quality of work and service desired at a fair price; coping with any problems or difficulties that may arise during the course of work on site; and tying things up at the end of a project such as the final finances and sorting out any small problems with the building.
The Royal Institute of British Architects publishes comprehensive lists of the dozens of services available from architects, but most clients employ architects to:
- advise on the feasibility of their scheme
- prepare sketch designs
- liaise with the planners and handle applications for planning consent (and listed building or conservation area consent if required)
- obtain consent under the building regulations (another essential, again involving the local authority)
- produce all the drawings, specifications and schedules of work necessary for a builder to be able to do the job properly and as desired
- handle going to tender and analysing the results
- set in place a suitable contract with the chosen builder
- administer that contract as the builder does the work visiting the site to inspect the progress and quality of the work
- oversee the handing over of the building to its owner and sorting out any problems that arise subsequently
Not everyone needs, or wants, the full service. Many would only like to get planning permission. Some wish to build their own homes themselves, and what is called ‘the production information’ is tailored to their needs. Usually, the best way to brief an architect is define your problem, rather than saying what you think you need.