What Type Of Architect Do I Need?







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One of the most common questions at the start of a renovation project is, what type of architect do I need? 

Architects and design professionals can help you with everything from design ideas, technical drawings, budgeting and right through to sourcing a builder for the construction. As they are so important, it’s crucial that you get the right type of professional and person for your project. 

If you need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

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Contemporary glazed extension by RIBA practice Harvey Wright Architects

Firstly, it's important to consider the different professionals that are available.


You must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to use the term 'architect'. Many ARB architects and practices are also Chartered Members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Architects have focused a great deal on the design element during their 7 years of studies, so are typically creative and design lead.

Architectural technologists

An architectural technologist will be a member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT). Their training has focused on the science behind the architecture, design and construction process. Many are very creative too.

Other professionals and specialists

There are many other members of professional bodies who can help you with your project. 

Structural engineers are responsible for the calculations that are required for the building control application, as well as for the builder to work off of. 

Interior designers are also commonly used in a renovation, not only for the interiors but some help with the design, layout and flow of your renovation project. They also often help with the project management.

There are also some firms who are ‘architectural designers’ who are not governed by a professional body, like ARB or CIAT, but offer a service which will include work such as planning and building control applications. This is often popular, particularly on smaller projects where you need help with a particular part of the project. Some work on large projects too and have great design ideas.

So what type of architect do you need for your project?

There are so many different types of renovation projects, from knocking down a wall to create a larger kitchen, to a large remodel and extension. Your type of project and budget will have an impact on what design professional you will work with. 

Here are some things to consider.

Do you need design ideas?

Often, renovators buy a house that is essentially a box which needs complete remodelling and extending to create their dream home.

It may well need a transformation on the outside too, as well as changing the garden. In this case, a good option is to go for someone who is design lead, to help give ideas for your new home, as well as help with the planning and building control applications, as well as any others. 

This would normally be someone who is a qualified architect and often a RIBA member who is very much focused on design. It’s also worth looking at architectural technologists. Although they don’t focus as much on the design during their training, there are some who have wonderful design ideas.

You may have some ideas yourself, however a design lead architect will give you other options that you may have not have thought of. 

When planning your new layout, they will look at things such as the balance and flow of the home. They will look at how the light enters the house and how to make the most of it. 

They will also have ideas on the style including structural glazing, exterior finishes, and can design something contemporary and original. They will consider how your home and house extension flow into the garden. 

Contemporary extension by Architectural Technologist Matz Architecture

What do you need help with?

If you have a smaller project and are really clear on what you need, it might be that you just need help with the planning and building control applications. This could be adding a porch, a simple extension, loft conversion or garage conversion.

In this case, you probably don’t need to invest in a design lead architect but instead choose someone to help with the plans. This could be an “architectural designer” or an architectural technologist who works on projects of your size.

If you are simply knocking down a wall to create a large kitchen, then you can work directly with a structural engineer.

If you are looking for end to end help and your project is large, then it would be advisable to choose either an architect or architectural technologist. Even if you don’t need design ideas, having someone to help navigate the application process as well as help with the construction is really helpful.

An energy efficient contemporary home by RIBA members Scorer Hawkins Architects

What size is your budget?

The size of your budget will have an impact on who will help with your renovation project.

Architects' fees are at a premium due to the experience that they are able to bring to the project.

Typically, an architect will take on projects with budgets starting from around £100k, some even more. That is not to say that some will not work on smaller projects, however on the whole an Architect will focus on larger projects. 

Before you approach an architect, it’s worthwhile checking that they work on projects of your size, rather than wasting your time engaging with them.

If you are spending a significant amount to create your dream home, it is so important that you choose the right design professional and investing in a good Architect or Architectural Technologist will not be a waste of money. It is so important that you see their previous work and make sure that their style is aligned to yours.

Many renovation budgets are less than £100k, in which case an architectural technologist or an experienced architectural designer would be an excellent choice as they tend to start at lower budgets; that’s not to say that they wouldn’t take on larger projects too. They will be able to bring your ideas to life whilst adding some of their own.

If you have a small budget and a really strong idea of what you are looking for, then working with someone to help with the planning and building control applications might be all you need. In this case a recommended Architectural Designer could be a good option.

No matter who you decide to work with, it's worth considering a few things and doing some background checks

  • Look at their previous work. It might be that their style is very different from yours and they work on niche projects. For example, an architect that focuses on minimalist projects might not be suited to you if you like a traditional style.
  • Confirm that they have experience in your type of project too. If you are carrying out a loft conversion, it's worthwhile working with someone who has helped plan these. 
  • Check references to find out how they have been to work with, you can ask to speak to a some previous clients.
  • Speak with some and check your rapport, this will really help when it comes to creating your dream home.
  • Check their memberships of professional bodies and that they have professional indemnity insurance. 
  • It might be that they aren't a member of a professional body, in which case references are so important.

If you need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

Find an architect or designer

Published: August 3, 2020

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