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question for anyone who has used an architect

(13 Posts)
kbaby Thu 09-Jun-11 22:19:20

How much contact did you have with your architect.

It's the first time we've ever used one as we are looking to apply for planning for a dormer extension and a remodeling of the bedrooms.

So far our first meeting was end of march and since then she's only come to the house twice and only just requested a meeting with the council.

I don't have any experience, but I thought she would've wanted to have more contact with us than she has and it wouldn't have taken this long to get to where we are.
Can anyone say how many times I should expect to meet with her and how long should the planning process take?
My brief was to create a dormer window, rearrange the bedrooms to provide equal sized rooms and move the stairs.


DisparityCausesInstability Thu 09-Jun-11 22:27:22

Don't know what the standard is, we used an independent guy. He'd produce plans, we 'd mull them over - give him a call, we'd chat, he'd produce new plans and so it continued until we were happy to go for planning. We didn't rush things - mulling it over is an important part of design and now we are in the middle of the build, it seems like we should have done more mulling that we need to think about what you want and if you are not getting it and can't resolve it - change architect.

Pancakeflipper Thu 09-Jun-11 22:35:32

We are abit like Disparity.
Appointed him in Jan. Met him. Briefed him. Then spent 2 months going over possible plans. This meant alot of emails, plans sent electronically and meeting at our dining table another 4 times. Then into building regs. Going to build now. He phoned at the weekend to check all ok and he's still involved as he needs to sign off once build done.

Our extension is huge though. But you have to feel comfy with them. We met with one architect who seemed to churn out a template design regardless of what we said and had no vision or enthusiasm. I know it's our extension but we wanted someone who could contribute ideas and vision.

wednesday13 Thu 09-Jun-11 22:38:31

Planning takes 8 weeks normally, barring complications. Have you already put in for planning or is there something contentious like a conservation area? Have you seen any drawings yet? It does sound like things are going slowly.

We appointed an architect at the start of February this year for an extension, planning took from early March to end May, we now have drawings detailed and are waiting for prices/Building Regs approval. I suppose we've had 4-5 meetings. He's a man of few words but he does get on with it.

kbaby Thu 09-Jun-11 22:57:22

At the moment the initial plans have just been sent to the council for review before the final plans are submitted, the reason for this is because we want dormer windows on the front We need the council to advise us how big the windows can be etc then we Can change the plans if needed before applying for planning. Maybe its me, I always feel that she may be fed up if I go back and say I want xyz changed on the plans.

Pancakeflipper Thu 09-Jun-11 23:05:41

Remember you are paying her to change things. It's not a favour... It's her role.
Architects are very used to being asked to change stuff. They know things the design are changed - not just cos it's wrong or you hate their work but cos something else works better.

So don't be scared to ask.

DisparityCausesInstability Thu 09-Jun-11 23:42:58

You will be changing things right the way through till you finish the build and that's how it should be - despite having put a lot of thought into our build, there are still things we hadn't considered - the builder is annoyingly brilliant at spotting them.

kbaby Fri 10-Jun-11 10:01:55

Disparity, what things have you changed? It may help me make sure I think of them too

DisparityCausesInstability Fri 10-Jun-11 11:11:29

Direction some doors open, position of the bath, size of the walk in wardrobe, removed a light tube, added another sink and hob in the kitchen, moved doors, reduced the sizes of windows....most of these things involved no extra cost, moving a wall or a door is just about builder is very good at spotting stuff that might be a problem and he's good at solutions.

It pays to be open minded and listen to everyone's opinion and then make up your own mind.

kbaby Sat 11-Jun-11 23:28:37

Thanks for those, Im waiting for them to get back to me re the initial council meeting, at least I now know not to be embarrased to get her to change the plans again.

Can I ask how big is your walk in wardrobe, shes suggested having an ensuite but to be honest im not that bothered so was thinking of plumbing it ready but not fitting it out and using it as a walk in wardrobe for now, then if needed when dc are older we could convert it to an ensuite then. The space would be 10*4.6ft, its so hard to visualise the space etc to see if we could use it as wardrobe space.

Pendeen Sun 12-Jun-11 13:16:12

No two projects are ever the same , no two Architects are ever the same and most certainly no two clients ere ever the same and therefore there is unfortunately no simple answer to your question.

For a project like yours - at the stage you describe - I would expect to (very broadly):

Have an initial consultation (free) to establish the client's objectives and aspirations, look at the property and the practicalities, establish their required timescale and likely budget, etc.

Once I had completed my survey and prepared my initial proposals - often comprising several sketch options - meet again to explote the client's reactions.

Prepare a final proposal with outline costs and programme, discuss in outline terms with the council and again meet the client.

However, many councils are regrettably now charging for even informal discussions which is a retrograde step and I'm sure will result in many applications being submitted without any consultation therefore your Architect may very well be trying to save you costs, it all depends on how tight is your budget.

I am always willing to answer a client's questions, to guide and assist them in making decisions even if that is a simple telephone chat.

If you like, you can PM me if you want any further information.

kbaby Tue 14-Jun-11 23:36:08

Thanks pendeen.

Your way is the way I thought it would go.

Depending on how much space the extension would create would be our deciding factor on even if it was worth doing but our architect is unable to give us proper dimensions until the council have said how big a dormer we can have.

So far we've met initially we discussed what we were looking for, she drew up plans, we asked for amendments/alternatives which were never discussed again, or provided. Emails sent chasing by myself about how can we decide if It's doable until she's taken measurements, she came round took measurments. Added approx measurements to the plans and emailed back to us.

I feel that we've missed out a part. Our worry is that we don't get planning granted(it was always debatable if we would get it) and then we have to pay for the whole thing all over again to come up with alternatives.

DisparityCausesInstability Wed 15-Jun-11 07:33:12

I don't know if this is the case elsewhere but in our neck of the woods you pay for a planning application and if it is turned down - you get a second bite of the cherry. In fact this is judged to be highly likely around these parts as planning officers can meet their targets easily by just rejecting applications. Our architect charged us one fee, so all the rejection cost us was time - but one thing you can't be is in a hurry when it comes to building work - you'll come to a sticky end!

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