Your self-build home is likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime project and as such, you'll want to put your design in a trusted pair of hands.
Unless you've got the necessary qualifications yourself, this will usually mean hiring an architect. In this guide, we'll offer some top tips on finding and appointing the right architect for the job, while avoiding some of the most common problems self-builders fall foul of.
Why do you need an architect?
If you're not lucky enough to have a day job as an architect, you're going to need one. Simply put, they're qualified professionals that can design and manage your project from inception to the final brick being placed.
Architects will interpret your plans, from the sketchiest of outlines and even a brief consultation can be of benefit in kick-starting your project.
And while there are alternatives, like downloadable plans, that you can get for a fraction of the cost, for those looking for something unique and bespoke – an architect is a necessity.
However, since you'll be stuck with them for the long-haul, picking an architect isn't something you should do on a whim.
You're paying for the experience and specialist knowledge they bring to the table, but in a long-term project like this, it also pays to pick someone you get on with and is enthusiastic about your project.
Architects are also able to help you track down the best builder for the job, as well as holding your hand through the complex regulatory and contractual obligations you'll take on as a self-builder.
How much does an architect cost?
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) used to offer a suggested scale of fees that suggested charging around eight per cent of the total construction costs for a self-build project.
However, in order to promote competition – these were abolished and now it's up to the market to dictate what you'll pay. While price is undoubtedly important in what's likely to be one of the biggest financial undertakings of your life, you shouldn't automatically opt for the cheapest quote.
There's a great deal of variation in prices, with some practices offering fixed-fee rates and others still using the percentage model. In an attempt to provide flexibility, some go as far as to offer services on a pay-as-you-go basis – although if you lean too heavily on this – there's the chance that you'd pay more than you would for a full service package.