Find an Architect
The title 'architect' is protected under Section 20 of the Architects Act 1997. What this means is that the title can only be used by someone that has completed the training - a minimum of 7 years in all areas of design and construction.
David Challinor, Principal Architect and Director at C-Architecture Limited explains "As Architects undertake 7 years of training and education, their creative thinking, and artistic and technical design skills are already strongly developed when they begin their professional careers. This allows them to approach each new project in an objective and impartial way, with an abundance of ideas and creative solutions for their client's site. Architects can deliver a unique proposal for each self build project, often resulting in a home that far exceeds their client's original expectations".
Architects are trained throughout their career so that they remain current in terms of legislation, building design technologies etc. So, while there are other designers available, an architect is a degree of quality by way of accreditation.
RIBA's advice is to look for an architect with experience of your type of project or one that share your aspirations. Check how many similar projects they have built, their contacts with the local planning department and their track record of approvals. Follow up their references to find out how well they communicated, how responsive they were to changes, and how effective they were at managing the budget.
You can find lots of useful information on how to find the right architect for you through the RIBA. Use their Find an Architect tool that has more than 3,700 accredited Chartered Practices.
When searching for the right architect, it's important to make sure that they are familiar with self or custom build. Take a look at BuildStore's BuildPartner Directory where you can find some of the architects that have supplied some of the amazing images around our site. You can also find more of their work in our Gallery.
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the UK's independent regulator of architects set up by Parliament. All architects must be registered with ARB by law. You can search for architects in your area and check that you are dealing with genuine and qualified professionals. The ARB website also has lots of useful information including a 'Meeting your Architect' form that helps you prepare ahead of meeting with your chosen architect.
A further very useful resource to take a look at when searching for an architect is ASBA, a national network formed and run by locally-based chartered RIBA architects who specialise in the design of one-off houses and domestic alterations. On their site you can find lots of example projects as well as plenty of useful factsheets
It's a good idea to discuss your finance with a BuildStore adviser prior to speaking to an architect. By choosing certain design elements, you may inadvertently be limiting your choice of lenders and suitable products.