Building Dreams

Andrew Black, Director, Andrew Black Design sheds some light, and dispels some myths, about contracting an Architect to create your bespoke, dream home:

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What should I look for in an Architect?

Make sure that the Architect is registered with the Architectural Registration Board (ARB). Anyone can, and many people do, call themselves an Architectural Designer but a full-fledged Architect will be registered and therefore regulated, with many also holding Chartered status. It may sound trivial but, on top of that, it’s crucial that you like your Architect as the process should be enjoyable.

Andrew Black

Andrew Black

What about the cost?

Volume builders will always have the benefits of economy of scale, keeping the cost of their builds to a minimum. What they can’t do is build a home for you specifically.

We recently re-designed a house for a client who had previously contracted an Architectural Designer. There was an enormous amount of wasted space and circulation which they would have to pay for. We rationalised the layout and saved them several thousand pounds, which they used to upgrade the staircase design and windows.

We advise people to look at the long-term gain of the value we are adding to the property, especially if they plan to sell it on but even if it’s a ‘forever’ home. A badly designed house will undoubtedly be worth less than a well-designed house.

Of course, it’s also about the value which we are adding to the client’s quality of life.

We are upfront will all of our clients right from the outset and stay in touch with them regularly about their ongoing costs, avoiding hidden and costly surprises.

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How creative do I, the client, need to be?

Some clients have lots of ideas and vision but need us to create some order to make it work.

Others prefer to be led with the help of our ideas which are brought to life through walk-through, 3D imagery.

It’s a collaboration and the client can be involved as much or as little as they feel comfortable with.

What if my partner and I don’t agree on what we want?

The Architect can aid you both in deciding what you need rather than what you think you want.

We begin by getting to know you and your lifestyle, then creating a ‘wish list’ or brief which we translate into a vision.

What if the Architect doesn’t like my/our ideas?

The Architect is there to guide you, not impose their ideas. It’s your house and you need to feel comfortable. Don’t be scared to say no if you don’t, however, there are times when you need to have faith in their training and skills.

What if I / we change my mind throughout the course of the design/build?

Changing your mind is perfectly normal. We always encourage clients to explore ideas at the design stage and make the mistakes while they’re still on paper. It’s much cheaper to change your mind during the design stages than when the builder is on site.

How much contact will I have with my Architect throughout the lifespan of the project?

An average build from day one to walking into your brand new home would generally take between one and two years.

Within that time, we would see our clients every few weeks – more at certain times of the project when more decisions need to be made. We are increasingly communicating with clients through email, Skype etc., so face-to-face meetings are becoming less necessary.

The design process should be fun and can be enormously enjoyable, so embrace it!

The process can be life changing, creating a living space that allows them to live their life in a different and more fulfilling way.


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