“I don’t really need an architect, I know what I want. I just need someone to draw up the plans.”

You may be surprised how often I hear this from people enquiring at my practice. Those people rarely go on to become my clients because, while they may think they know what they want and can write a design brief, they give the impression that their minds are closed to new ideas. That’s no fun!

I wonder, would those same people go to their doctor and tell them: “I need xyz pills because I have xyz-itis”? Or do they go to their doctor like most people and tell them their symptoms and what is troubling them so the doctor can prepare an appropriate solution and treatment plan? I hope it’s the latter!

Whether true or not, those people don’t feel that they will benefit from my years of experience as a residential architect, designing award-winning houses for my clients and their families – they “just want a set of plans”. For me – that is not an architect’s role.

Sure – drawing plans is part of what we do, but it is not all that we do. In my practice, my professional responsibilities range from managing client communication, to design and documentation, interior design, contract management, negotiation with builders, on-site communication & liaison, and even now through to garden design.

At the start of your project, a good architect will discuss your design brief with you to learn more about you and what you hope to achieve from your project. They will then interpret that brief and prepare one or more concept designs for you based on that brief. There will usually be elements of those concepts that you have not thought of before. Fresh eyes on a design problem can generate really exciting new ideas!

From there you and your architect will develop the design together – there should be a two-way flow of communication. You will need to feel comfortable talking to your architect about all aspects of the way you intend to live in your new house. Equally, your architect should be able to explain their concepts and ideas to you – through discussion as well as drawings and sketches…and there will be lots of drawings and sketches!

Part 2 – “But what if I don’t like what the architect designs?”