What type of architect do I need?

Starting to plan your renovation is exciting but it can also be confusing to know who you need to work with and where to start. We cover the different types of architects so you know who will be best suited to your renovation.


An architect will have completed 7 years' of training (both university and in practice) and the term 'architect' is protected by law, meaning you must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB, arb.org.uk) to legally call yourself an architect. Most architects are also Chartered Members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA, architecture.com).

An architect's training covers everything from the design process all the way through to the construction, so an architect will be able to offer you the complete service.

When should you choose an architect?

If you are planning a large extension or re-design project and you need some design ideas and advice, an architect will be able to go through the whole process from design consultation to overseeing the construction.

Architectural Technologist

An architectural technologist will be a member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) and the training will focus more on the science behind the architecture, design and construction process.

Architectural technologist are experts on bridging the gap between the creative design and the actual construction.

When should you choose an architectural technologist?

If you are planning a straightforward extension, loft or garage conversion, or have a clear design brief, then an architectural technologist will be able to do all of the plans and completion of the project for you.

So what is the difference between an Architect and an Architectural Technologist? 

An architect will have spent a lot of their time studying the design process, whereas the architectural technologist will have focused their training on the science and the practicalities of the construction process.

If you have a clear idea of how you want your extension or conversion to look and your design brief is straightforward, an architectural technologist should be able to meet your needs. If you need some inspiration on your project, or want a real design makeover, an architect will be the best place to go to.

As architect's fees are generally higher, you will likely save money by working directly with an architectural technologist, so this is great news if you already have a design brief or you are planning a straightforward project.

It is often common for firms to employ both; once the architect has completed the design brief and planning, they will hand the work over to the architectural technologist to complete the construction drawings and the specification for the builders.

So who else might be involved in the planning process?

There are other professionals that may be involved in the overall process of planning your project.

Architectural technician

Working closely with architects and architectural technologists, the technician works on preparing technical information to help with the project as well as assisting the preparation of applications for regulatory bodies. An architectural technician will work within a practice rather than on their own. They are professionally qualified members of CIAT.

Structural engineer

A structural engineer will be responsible for producing the structural drawings and calculations that are required for building regulations and also used by your builder. If you are carrying out any structural changes then you must have building regulations approval and therefore will involve a structural engineer. 

Architects and architectural technologists will have a structural engineer either in their firm or someone who they work with, however if you are working on a small project that doesn't require planning permission, you may want to work directly with the structural engineer and save on fees.

To find out more about structural engineers and your project, read our article Do I need a structural engineer for my home renovation?


The surveyor will assess the overall condition of the building and also advise on any issues such as the Party Wall Act. If you are carrying a large renovation on a run down property it is worthwhile appointing a surveyor at the outset to identify any issues that you may otherwise overlook.

A final word....

Many organisations will be able to cover off the end to end process of your project and use different professionals at each stage. Based on your brief, they will provide an estimated cost based on the complexity and who needs to be involved.

There is no law requiring you to work with an architect or architectural technologist on your renovation or to submit your planning permission, however there will be so many benefits including a smoother planning application, removing the paperwork hassle and a a greater eye for design and structural detail.

Always ensure your architect or architectural technologist is a member of the respective body and has sufficient professional indemnity insurance

Published: September 28, 2018

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