Do I Need an Architect?
- Author: Scott
Do I need an architect?
Always wanted a home office? Always feel bad when you have to ask guests to sleep on the sofa? Dream of a conservatory? Yearn of seeing in the warm summer mornings from the comfort of your orangery? An extension can provide you with a little extra home to love while also adding value to your property and increasing the return you get on your investment should you decide to rent out or sell your home. Plus, let’s not forget the value that comes with being able to fall in love with your home all over again.
An extension can be a great addition to your home but getting one built can be a complex and lengthy process. Some on a tight budget may look for opportunities to cut out middlemen wherever possible. In light of this, some may find themselves asking themselves, do I need an architect for a home extension? Well, the short but opaque answer is… Yes and no. In order to answer this question in the detail, it deserves we need to look at the role of an architect in the planning and building of a home extension and the circumstances in which they may or may not be needed…
The role of the architect
An architect is instrumental in designing and drawing the plans for your extension. They will work collaboratively with you and help to ensure that your dream extension is logistically viable. What’s more they will draw up plans which will be essential in allowing builders to give you a fair and accurate quote for the extension. Without this builders will likely work from estimations based on similar jobs they have carried out in the past but may, through no fault of their own, wind up overcharging.
An architect can work to your budget. They can build opportunities to make savings into your design plans. They can also help you to realise where it’s best to concentrate your budget and where concessions can be made. Many will also have good relationships with reputable builders and can help you to make an informed decision about who has the skills necessary to carry out the work to a high standard within your allotted budget.
The more comprehensive an architect’s designs the more sure you can be that you’ll be free of unpleasant surprises, disputes and unexpected costs throughout the build. It also helps to ensure that you know exactly what you’ll be getting even before work begins.
The architect and planning permission
There are some types of extension which will require planning permission from your local council. An architect will have the knowledge and experience to determine whether or not your project will require planning permission. In cases where planning permission is necessary an architect can help to ensure that your plan stands every chance of having planning permission granted.
They know exactly how complicated the process of making a planning permission application can be and will endeavour to make it as easy as possible for you. Even nascent architects will be highly conversant with the application procedure and will help to ensure that the plans for your project match the exact policies of your local council.
So… When do I need planning permission and when don’t I?
There are some projects for which planning permission may not be necessary. There are some types of household renovations such as loft conversions, single storey extensions and certain types of sun rooms for which you may not need planning or planning permission. In single storey extensions, the extension must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original property by more than three metres if the house is attached house or by four metres if the property is detached. Single-storey rear extensions do not require planning if they are less than four metres in height.
Additionally, by rule of thumb, a project does not require an application for planning permission if it meets the following conditions;
No more than half the area around the home will be covered by additions or extensions.
No part of the extension is higher than the highest part of the roof.
Two-storey extensions are no closer than seven metres to the rear boundaries of the property.
Materials are similar (or at least in appearance) to the original house.
There are no verandas, balconies or raised platforms
You can find more information at PlanningPortal.co.uk.
When won’t I need an architect?
It’s important to note that it’s never a legal requirement to have an architect. The decision is up to you. Some people successfully carry out major works and renovations including extensions without the aid of an architect while others employ an architect even for something as relatively simple as renovating a bathroom or kitchen.
If you have a very clear and specific idea of what you want and are in touch with a trusted builder who knows exactly what it takes to bring your project to life an architect is somewhat less necessary. However, if you only have a rough idea of what you want and aren’t sure if it’s practically viable an architect becomes much more necessary.
Bear in mind that just because you don’t legally need one doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not a good idea to have one. Even if you don’t require planning
But aren’t architects expensive?
If you’ve decided that your extension requires an architect but your resources are limited, don’t panic. The general consensus is that hiring an architect is an inherently expensive endeavour but this is not always the case. It’s worth noting that like many service providers, you’ll find that there’s a great deal of variation in architects’ fees. You can save a great deal by opting for an architect who is just starting out in their career. They may have the skill and know-how you need for a beautiful extension… They just may charge a lot less.
An architect is an invaluable part of the planning process and can save you time, effort and money in the long term, despite the upfront cost that they represent. If your project requires planning and planning permission their plans can be invaluable in helping the project run smoothly without opposition. Even in situations where planning is not legally required, an architect can still help the build go more smoothly and cost effectively.