Why use an Architect?
An Architect is a licensed individual who leads a design team in the planning and design of buildings and participates in the oversight of building construction. The word “Architect” comes from the Latin architectus, which in turn derives from the Greek arkhitekton (arkhi, chief + tekton, builder”). In its broadest sense, an Architect is a person who translates a client’s requirements into something that is built. That is equally a good description of what architectural services are. Architects in Scotland and UK undertake a 7 year qualification in design, construction, and the management of building projects. Once they have passed the final Professional Practice examination they are allowed to use the title “Architect”, but not until. So when you see people using titles like “Architectural Services” or “`Building Consultant”, you can be sure that they are not qualified Architects. That doesn’t mean that they are any less talented or skilful, but it does mean that they have not undergone the rigorous training that is required of an architect.
What are Architects obliged to do?
- Architects in Scotland and in UK are required at all times to act within the Codes of Conduct laid down by the RIAS and the RIBA, the governing professional bodies. This means that they must act honourably and ethically in all their dealings with the pubic and with other professionals.
- If they are members of RIAS or RIBA they are obliged to maintain adequate levels of professional indemnity insurance whilst providing architectural services.
- They must demonstrate a structured commitment to providing Continuing Professional Development [CPD] to themselves and to any other Architects employed by them.
- Architects must provide all clients with a formal letter or agreement stating the terms and conditions of appointment relating to any new project in which architectural services are provided.
How should I choose an Architect?
- Consider getting a shortlist of Architects in Scotland from RIAS at https://www.rias.org.uk/directory or in England from RIBA on https://www.architecture.com/working-with-an-architect/why-use-an-architect. Both these resources give details of practices by region and by speciality, with an indication of the architectural services and related skills that each practice can provide.
- Call a number of practices with details of your project and programme to see if they can accommodate it. Ask for details of comparable projects that they have done.
- Visit the websites of practices that you are interested in. A list of companies providing architectural services can be viewed at Architects in Scotland.
- Ask about Fees.
- Interview your short list, not just to see if they are capable but to see if you like them This is an important relationship and it needs to work well. Trust your instincts.
◦Listen to recommendations and ask for references from previous clients.
Appointing an Architect
It is important that the scope of services required from an Architect is properly described and is set out in writing, along with an agreed schedule of payments. 1 Architects always ensure that this is clearly discussed with the Client at the outset, so that there are no misunderstandings later on.
Very broadly, the role performed by an Architect might include some or all of the following services:
- Assisting the client to prepare a strategic brief.
- Carrying out feasibility studies and options appraisals.
- Advising on the need to appoint other professionals.
- Advising on procurement routes.
- Contributing to the preparation of a project brief.
- Preparing the concept design.
- Preparing the detailed design.
- Preparing planning applications.
- Preparing applications for statutory approvals (such as building regulations).
- Preparing production information.
- Preparing tender documentation.
- Contributing to the assessment of tenders.
- Reviewing designs prepared by others.
- Acting as contract administrator.
- Inspecting the works.
- Advising on the rectification of defects.
- Carrying out post occupancy evaluations.
If the architect is to perform lead designer or lead consultant roles, this must be clearly agreed.
It is also important to be clear to what extent expenses such as; travelling, print costs, model making costs and so on are included in the fee.
Some services will only be undertaken by an Architect if they are specifically identified in their appointment documents, and otherwise they may not be included within the fee. These are described as ‘other services’ on some forms of appointment and might include:
- Compiling or editing briefing documents (for example preparing the strategic brief may be the responsibility of the client or an independent client advisor, not the Architect).
- Environmental studies.
- Undertaking negotiations with the statutory authorities or the main contractor.
- Undertaking surveys.
- Undertaking tasks in relation to party wall matters.
- Undertaking tasks in relation to two-stage tendering (such as two-stage design and build contracts).
- Revisions to documents that are required for reasons that are not the Architect’s responsibility (for example as a result of changes in legislation).
- Assessment of designs prepared by others.
- Undertaking tasks in relation to disputes or work not in accordance with the contract.
- Preparing a site waste management plan.
- Preparing marketing materials.
- Assisting in raising funds for the project.
- Preparing as-built drawings.
- Providing site inspectors.