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What to expect from architect's visit?

(6 Posts)
Mandy21 Wed 06-Jul-11 08:48:14

We have an architect coming to the house next week to talk about our plans to extend - hoping to do a big L shaped 2 storey extension (to a typical 1930s semi). Any advice on what to expect? Its the "architect in the house" scheme that was advertised in the Sunday Times - an hour's consultation with an architect in return for a £40 donation to Shelter.

What would you expect? Would you expect him to be able to give you some advice about layout / what would be allowed / planning permission process etc and / or should I be armed with lots of questions. Obviously don't expect him to produce drawings but any advice welcome!

Dorothyredboots Wed 06-Jul-11 12:06:35

My DH is an architect. You should be able to explain to him what you would like to do and it is part of his job to tell you if that is possible and if not why not. He should, if he is any good, be able to make suggestions for you and sometimes my DH comes up with really fab 'outside the box' ideas. It is the architects job to listen to and interpret what the client wants (or thinks he/she wants!). He should also be able to give you a good estimate about what it will cost to build.
You need to remember that he will be hoping to get the job so he won't want to give away too much. Producing drawings etc is what you need to pay for. He has to make a living and despite what you see on telly architects do not get paid very well (much less than solicitors, doctors and just about any other profession you can mention). £40 is a good deal fo 60 mins free advice.
Most architects are very nice people and are used to dealing with clients who do not know about building regulations, so don't be afraid of him. Give him a cuppa and a biccy and just explain what you want to do.
Good luck I hope your plans work out.

mistlethrush Wed 06-Jul-11 12:14:14

You can usually get leaflets on what you need to get permission for from the planning department - but tbh it sounds as though your proposals would almost certainly require planning permission anyway. There may, however, be a good guide on what the planning dept expect to see from extensions to houses such as yours - so it would be really helpful to look at that before the architect comes around.

I would expect to set out what you want from the extension, how you want to use the space, but then hand it over to him - he might be able to suggest something that you wouldn't have thought of. How much you can spend is an issue of course so might be worth setting that out too...

Planning permission process is fairly straight forward - again there should be a leaflet available in the planning department. I don't know whether your Council do pre-application consultation, but a lot of authorities charge for that now.

Mandy21 Wed 06-Jul-11 12:49:21

dorothredboots and mistlethrush great advice - thank you. I'm really excited, hopefully he'll be able to give us some really good ideas about what can be done.

Tea will be brewed and biscuits will be plated smile

beanandspud Thu 07-Jul-11 09:44:09

My only advice would be to try to give him/her something to work with - even a rough, doodled drawing of how you think the space might work would be a good starting point.

Have a think about what your priorities are and what you expect to use the space for. Our architect was fantastic and gave us lots of really useful ideas and input (he also pointed out that if we went with my original plan the only use for one of the new rooms would be as a bowing alley!).

The architect might also be able to recommend local builders if you don't have someone in mind and they should know the local planning council very well and will be able to advise what will/won't meet planning regs. Bear in mind as well that you need to be able to work together so some sort of a rapport is helpful!

Good luck.

Pendeen Fri 08-Jul-11 14:57:13

"Would you expect him to be able to give you some advice about layout / what would be allowed / planning permission process etc and / or should I be armed with lots of questions."

Yes to all that and I agree with much of the good advice given above.

I always ask lots and lots (and even more lots) of questions to really get behind the (potential) client's reasons, needs, aspirations, and so on as well as more mundane items such as budget, timescales, any constraints such as ownership, access, neighbour issues,etc.

Often the client's request for a specific building project - say as in your case an extension of a particular size and shape may, after much talking and exploring of the clients actual needs rather than their solution result in an entirely different project or even, and this has happened a few times, no project at all.

I have talked myself out of more than one commission when I genuinely believed it was in their best interest and instead recommended a house move.

Don't forget to ask about fees, references, any other consultants they may require and statutory charges (planning, building regulations etc).

Oh - and check that the Architect is actually an Architect. The title is protected by law and this is regulated. Sadly the function is notprotected and anyone can claim to be able to undertake design work, so be sure you check.

In any event, I wish you well.

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