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What To Discuss With Architects Before Building A House

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  • 24-03-2022
What To Discuss With Architects Before Building A House

Are you considering what to discuss with architects before building a house? Find out more about what to expect when discussing your building project with an architect.

Bob Trimble is a chartered architect registered with RIBA with 30 years experience in the industry. Trimble Architects work throughout Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington and the surrounding areas of London.

What To Discuss With Architects

When you work with a registered architect from the Royal Institute Of British Architects (RIBA), you can expect strong professional relationships to form. Good communication when hiring an architect is key, whether they are independent or via architectural firms.

To gauge whether they are qualified to adapt your existing home and overcome design challenges, here are some questions and topics you should ask your architect:

This is one of the key questions you must ask, understanding if their experience and past clients have prepared them for a similar project. If they have worked with reliable contractors, whether their architecture firm generally deals with commercial or residential projects and if their fee structure covers all your requirements.

If your prospective architect can provide references on their previous clients and body of work, you will have a better understanding of their design developments, as many architects have unique ways of working.

When the project starts, you should have a realistic budget in mind for all design costs and construction services required, but there will be fixed fees given to you by your architect. Architects charge different prices, but both you and your architect should work together to reach the same goal.

The construction and project costs may not be your responsibility to manage, nor are the additional fees. Still, you should discuss this with your architect at the beginning of the process to design your dream house. 

Another important discussion topic to bring up is if there are any legal challenges with the architectural firm, ensuring the project will be delivered on the agreed date. The project manager should ensure this is written on, agreed upon and signed in a contract agreement. This is to provide the legal safety of all participants during the build project duration. 

Hiring an architect, browsing home design magazines and beginning the building services to your dream home can become very exciting, but clients shouldn't forget to ask for the project timeline. While you may have a budget and desired materials in mind, your architect has the experience to make the process more streamlined, saving you time and money.

One common example of a material change that can reduce the project's time duration is the switching of concrete blocks to precast foundation panels. These panels are typically more straightforward to install, making the construction process more efficient. 

Things To Consider When Building a House

Home building has many elements involved one must manage when working on a custom home. 


While you need to consider your home's energy efficiency, design drawings and the architect you hire - there are some more factors you should think about: 

Architects use this term to define all the interior elements of a property, from the rooms to the general requirements. When working on your new house, it is often simpler to work backwards and determine how many rooms you require and what type of room. Planning this out now or beginning to form an idea will save you time and money.  

Homeowners are responsible for deciding:

  • How many bedrooms? Do you want en suites? Walk-in closets?
  • How many bathrooms are required? Showers or baths? Both? If so, what style and size?
  • What storage rooms do you want? Attic? Cellars? Laundry rooms, equipment rooms and other 'mud rooms' will quickly increase the overall project costs.
  • How do your family use the living room spaces? Do you require a big or small space? Multiple living rooms?
  • Special rooms such as a library or home office should be considered, especially for the number of residents inside.
  • What are your parking requirements? Do you have a garage? How many cars do you own?

On top of all of this, you should consider the patio, decking, garden space, driveway and other exterior requirements, as they will drastically affect the plot of land.

The architect will have a greater understanding of the design philosophy once you have pitched your initial ideas and visions, but you should consider the size of the house with your program and budget. The property's square footage needs to be evaluated by yourself and the architect, ensuring you can afford the things you want within the space. 

How much you are willing and able to spend on the new construction is something you should be realistic about at the beginning of the project. If you are not open about your finances with contractors and your architect, you will quickly lose control over the building process. Builders and labour costs must be accounted for, along with appliances and materials, the surveying and geotechnical aspects of a project also. Having some contingency here is crucial, ideally 15%-20% over your overall project costs. 

Finding a general contractor and a buildings team that works for cheap may seem like a good idea when wanting to keep project costs low, but you will regret it in the long run. Your new home deserves more, and any architect worth their money will have a backlog of reliable and efficient contractors they trust to complete your project. Finding a good team you can trust will bring quality results in the long run.  

Hiring a land surveyor to visit your property will always be a good recommendation, completing an architectural survey to aid with the design drawings. Without houses receiving surveys, it becomes much harder for a critical analysis of the options, so you should talk with your architect and arrange this sooner rather than later. 

Your local council may have specific zoning regulations, and the architect's review of the property and the square footage of the desired project are required in many cases. You will quickly find limits to the height, roof pitch and stories available to you as you progress. 

Your architect isn't only your go-to contact for drawings and design; they also aid with site planning and ensuring the property will not only fit on the plot of land but meet the rest of the neighbouring properties. While you are under no legal obligation to become familiar with site planning regulations and how much time you should allocate, dealing with the necessary precautions will help your construction process along. 

Architects call this stage precedent research, meaning you begin to look at design options. Sometimes you don't know the aesthetic you're looking for until it appears before you, so start searching for all types of interiors. If you are interested in sustainable design, look for something along those lines. Share with your architect all your passions for modern, minimalistic, classical or something wholly different and discuss. 

More homeowners opt for a sustainable house, concerned about their environmental impact and energy performance. If you choose to prioritise the sustainability of your home, you can find your energy bills decreasing in the long run. Communicate this point if you prefer to remain sustainable in your build, and many architects will be able to provide examples to satisfy your expectations. 

Managing and designing a property involves a level of durability and planning ahead. Where you can afford it, you should endeavour to complete the new build or renovation with durable materials, from which your architect can provide advice and explain the decisions behind the choices. While you can decide depending on how much you're willing to pay, taking the time to find a durable option is always worthwhile. 

Things To Consider When Building a House

Home building has many elements involved one must manage when working on a custom home. While you need to consider your home's energy efficiency, design drawings and the architect you hire - there are some more factors you should think about: 

Architects should be able to provide previous clients and contractors they have worked with, acting as references for their workflow and ethics. Their professional relationships will help you determine whether you choose to complete additional work with them. 

These are the not-so-fun parts of hiring an architect, but they must be combatted. Different architectural firms have unique approaches and costs, so be open and honest about your budget and ensure they are just as transparent about their fees. This is your opportunity to ask all the questions you could later regret not doing, so enquire into their previous projects and whether they have met the budget or gone over. 

Ensuring your architect is insured and how far that insurance will take you is vital. If there are ongoing claims against the firm, this could detriment your progress and negatively affect the overall build. 

Another thing you should always aim for transparency with is the timescale of the overall construction. As with all custom builds, the timeframe can seem everlasting, causing severe anxiety. 

The architect needs to provide you with a duration for the designs to be completed, and they will have an idea of the construction duration - depending on their experience. If you have an idea in your head and there is little wiggle room for negotiation, you can sometimes find the process much more challenging. Architects are professionals who can offer alternatives to materials, creating more time and saving money. 

This dynamic of how much feedback and time you need to commit to the project rests entirely on the relationship you have with your architect. If you have built trust and prefer to take a back seat, most architects will be happy with this. On the other hand, if you prefer to be deeply involved with the design process, establish this early on in your conversations. Architects generally want to know what type of client they are working with. 

Any architect who has worked on similar projects before will know of the potential challenges associated with your build. Guidelines, building regulations and local council restrictions are all commonplace, and the architect will know how to appease everyone. 

While we recommend you to meet as much of the team involved in your project as possible, establishing a clear point of contact at the architect's firm will make your life easier. If this is the project architect or project manager (or perhaps they are the same person) - be sure everyone knows of that dynamic. 

Most people have no experience in choosing a contractor, and that's perfectly okay. Architects will have good workers in their logbooks, meaning you have a referred professional at hand. Over time, architects and contractors build strong relationships, and you will benefit from this if you choose to go with them.

You should be aiming for an architect who will be there throughout the process, not submit the drawings and disappear. If you choose to deal with the contractor directly, this is commonplace, and architects will have no problem with this. 

If you want to reduce your property's environmental impact, ask your architect early in the process. They will be aware of sustainable options available to you, especially when it comes to suggesting materials that you haven't thought of. Of course, the more you are willing to spend, the greater the energy efficiency of your new house, but you will find yourself saving money in the long run. 

The construction process seems to interfere with your dream home becoming a reality, and working with architectural designers can help make that process easier. 

In this article, we consider the topics you should discuss with your architect before the design process and how you can ensure you're working with the right person. 

There are definitely more questions you should ask an architect, but if you are working with one for the first time, this list will help get the conversation started and ensure your investment remains worthwhile. 

 Architects Near Me


If you are looking for architectural services throughout Hounslow, Twickenham and the greater London area, then get in contact with our team today. We can offer advice and begin guiding you towards making the right decision.


Bob Trimble is a chartered architect registered with RIBA. Bob Trimble has 30 years of experience working with residential and commercial property projects. For 4 years, Bob Trimble has worked from his housing association and private architectural practice for clients throughout Hounslow, Twickenham, Richmond, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington and the surrounding areas of London.