What does an architect do?
It is an architect’s job to transform ideas and specifications into a tangible, feasible design and they will produce this design in the form of a picture, or plan, of what your construction/conversion will look like.
Your architect may work alone, or he may be assisted by an architectural technologist/technician who will be less comprehensively trained, but will have highly specialised skills.
As well as the planning and drawing of the design, the architect will also be involved in the overseeing of the actual construction.
With regard to the construction, the architect must be aware of environmental issues, economic constraints, and planning and building codes to be adhered to, as well as the materials available for the build and the safety of the builders.
In summary then, the architect’s job is to call upon their experience and expertise to design a project whilst satisfying the regulations, the builders, and the dreams – not to mention purse strings – of the employer.
What defines somebody as an ‘architect’?
‘Architect’ is the title solely reserved for those who have laboriously undertaken seven years of learning and training, passed all of the correct exams and have the appropriate experience to be listed on the national register of architects.
The Architects Registration Board is the national register in question and is a government organisation.
The software that produces all of the designs is known as CAD (Computer Aided Designs) software. It is often the role of the architect’s assistants, the technologists and technicians, to produce the drawings.
The architect will produce the initial sketches and therefore do most of the complicated work whilst the assistant will do the job of neatening it up and polishing it off for the client and contractors.
This software allows for material sampling as well as a range of different perspectives and views to be produced at the click of a button, without having to tediously recreate the plans manually.
The Architect’s role in a project
The architect, like the client, is involved all of the way through the planning and construction process, from the initial discussions about ideas to the finishing touches being applied to the building.
The architect’s level of input obviously (hopefully) peaks at the planning stage, at the end of which, all going well; they can take a back seat.
During the planning process though, they should be extremely busy liaising with the client and drawing up multiple design attempts in order to agree on a final design that is as perfect as it possibly can be.
It is very early in the design stage where the architect will have to familiarise himself with all of the Construction, Design and Management (CDM) regulations, including planning permission and listed building restrictions, so that they can produce a final design that adheres to the rules, as well as the client’s wishes.
Once the plans are finalised, it is time for the contractors to take over and set the construction in motion. Most architects will be able to recommend contractors; others will work alongside a construction team who will then be employed to carry out the building work.
If the architect is new to an area or for some other reason cannot recommend any contractors, this does not necessarily mean that they are useless, and they should be willing to work alongside the client to help them find an appropriate contractor to use.
The architect will then be able to advise the contractors on anything they are unsure of, as well as produce revised drawings in the event of an unforeseen problem. Small unforeseen problems tend to be inevitable, especially with work on existing buildings, but with a bit of luck, the majority of the architect’s head scratching will be finished in tandem with the initial plans.
In the event of the project requiring revised drawings a Construction Manager Change Order (CMCO) is issued along with the drawings in order to allow the changes to be made.
Costs vary massively dependent on the size, type, and complexity of the design, there is no standard fee. Generally though, due to the flexibility and freedom, new-building work is a great deal less expensive than work on an existing building.
A list of useful questions to ask your proposed architects:
- Are you Architects Registration board registered?
- How much do you charge?
- Can you recommend contractors?
- How expensive are they?
- How long will the construction take?
- I have a specific target completion date; can you be finished by then?