When you are looking to hire someone to work on your home you want to be sure that you are hiring the right team for the job. One which has qualified and experienced staff who will understand what you need and deliver to a high standard. So if you live in, say, Maidstone and are looking at architectural companies and architects for your home improvement project, what should you be looking for? We take a look at the qualifications and types of work that architectural firms and designers can take on to help.
Architects, architectural designers and architectural technicians
As with most things, there are different levels of qualifications for the various architectural specialists. This is because there are different requirements and responsibilities associated with each. The three main types are:
- Architects. The highest level of architectural qualification. Architects design all types of structures, including commercial, residential and public buildings. They typically study for 7 years and must complete practical training with a licensed firm before becoming licensed themselves. Following qualification, they must be registered with the Architects Registration Board and some may also choose to register with the Royal Institute of British Architects. Architects have a legal responsibility to ensure that deigns are safe and comply with the relevant building codes.
- Architectural technologists. Usually chartered, they take approximately 5-6 years to qualify, and can work on all types of buildings. To become a chartered architectural technologist, they must be registered with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technology and abide by its code of conduct.
- Architectural designers. Doing similar work to architects but focusing mostly on single residential projects, designers do not need a licence to practice. They complete similar studies to architects although are not required to complete the same practical training prior to qualification. They work closely with construction professionals, who are responsible for ensuring designs comply with legal requirements during the construction process. Their work includes submission of plans and drawings for planning approval. They are not required to register with the architects board and do not have the legal responsibilities that architects have.
Who is best placed to work on your home improvement project?
Going back to your home improvement project in Maidstone (or anywhere, for that matter), what should you be looking for in architectural companies and architects prior to hiring one?
While all three of the above-mentioned specialists could work on your home, here are the main things to consider:
Fully licensed architects are more likely to work on large-scale new buildings, such as residential blocks or commercials structures, rather than home extensions or conversions. In large part that is because their training and skills are better applied to larger projects. However, cost is a factor as well, with architects typically charging higher fees.
Insurance is key, no matter who you choose to work with. Check that your chosen professional holds at least professional indemnity and public liability insurance. It not only gives you peace of mind but shows that they take their work and responsibilities seriously as well.
Experienced and qualified professionals will be able to demonstrate what they have done before. This could be in the form of case studies, testimonials, reviews or references from clients. Ask to see them. They can tell you a lot about how they work with their clients, what their ethos is and how they deal with any problems that crop up.
Your budget for a home extension or loft conversion project may not stretch to cover the cost of a large architectural firm. It may not need to. Working with an architectural technologist or designer may be more suitable for what you need. These professionals will also have a lot of experience in this line of work.
Architectural designers and technologists who work on home improvement projects are also better placed to know your local area. More likely than not they will work within a particular region and have a good knowledge of its history and architectural styles. This means that their designs will consider the local architecture and aesthetics and work well with your existing home and the surrounding area.
While all these professionals will have a good working knowledge of planning laws, it is worth keeping in mind that local councils have additional considerations for their area. Therefore, hiring someone who is more local to you and who works on the types of projects you need makes good sense. They will have a better appreciation of the local policy constraints and requirements as well as a working relationship with local planners. Both can go a long way towards keeping things moving and dealing with any bottlenecks or problems that may arise.
Updating your home
If you are looking for a professional to help with your home improvement project, start local. We specialise in the South East and are one of the more experienced architectural companies and architects in Maidstone and the wider region. We have excellent relationships with construction companies and local planners and a solid track record.
Talk to us about your home’s design
Start with an informal chat, browse through our case studies or ask us for a quote. We are here to help and are happy to answer all your questions. Call us on 020 8306 5110 or drop us a line at when you are ready.