WORKING WITH AN ARCHITECT
Choosing an Architect
Definition of an Architect
Before a person can be called an architect he or she will have completed a seven-year course in the design, specification and erection of buildings and passed the professional practice examination which is the final stage of an architect training.
This permits entry to the list of UK Architects held by the Architects’ Registration Board (ARB), and use of the title ‘architect’. The list of Architects can be found at: architects-register.org.uk
Thereafter, application can be made to one or both of the chartered professional bodies listed below which entitle members to use the term ‘chartered architect’ and the following initials: RIAS / FRIAS (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland), RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects). An architect may also use the initials RSUA (Royal Society of Ulster Architects) or RSAW (Royal Society of Architects in Wales).
A chartered architect is obliged to uphold the reputation of the architectural profession and fellow professionals; to carry out work on behalf of clients honourably, independently and efficiently; and to declare any interest which might conflict with their status as an independent consultant architect. Please note that the use of the title ‘architect’ is protected actively under the Architects’ Act 1997 by ARB. If you are in any doubt whether your advisor is a chartered architect member of the RIAS or RIBA contact the RIAS membership department. t: 0131 229 7545.
While the use of the title ‘Architect’ is protected by law, the word ‘Architectural’ is not. Therefore an ‘Architectural Consultant’ is simply someone who works in the field of architecture. It does not relate to any level of education, code of conduct or standard of practice.
Finding an Architect
Go to the Find an Architect page and look at the information provided by each practice. You should select your chartered architect with care, perhaps interviewing more than one, to discuss the project in relation to their experience and capacity to take it on. This will provide you with the opportunity to look at their work. You should establish that you and your chartered architect are compatible and share a common approach to your project.
It is important that you and your chartered architect communicate with one another throughout the project. You should keep them informed about any matters affecting the brief, the budget and site acquisition. Similarly, your chartered architect should keep you informed on progress and costs throughout the design and construction stages.
Successful projects are those which proceed in an atmosphere of understanding and mutual trust. You and your chartered architect must understand one another’s roles and responsibilities.
At the outset all chartered architects must agree in writing the terms of their appointment, services and their fees.
Health and Safety
The Construction Design & Management (CDM) regulations 2015 came into force on 6th April 2015. As a client you are very likely to have to appoint a Principal Designer to co-ordinate a health and safety plan for the project and to ensure that you are provided with a health and safety file at its conclusion. Chartered architects are some of the most able to take on this role, which should be subject to a distinct agreement. Your chartered architect can advise you further.
The Plan of Work
Chartered architects usually consider projects in terms of work stages based on the RIBA Plan of Work 2013. The investment of effort is often assessed as a percentage of the whole, typically as follows:
Stage 0 – Time basis
Stage 1 – 5%
Stage 2 – 10%
Stage 3 – 25%
Stage 4 – 35%
Stage 5 – 20%
Stage 6 – 5%
Stage 7 – Time basis
The percentages of both the total fee and the staged work should be reviewed and set by the architect for each individual project and be based on his/her experience. The RIAS cannot take responsibility for the appropriateness of percentages adopted nor should the above be taken as applicable in all projects.
Stage 0 – Strategic Definition
The nature of this stage is primarily exploratory, in order to see if there is a business case for the project being proposed. As such, it is open ended and can only be charged on a time basis.
Stage 1 – Preparation and Brief
The aim of this stage is to ascertain whether the scheme is feasible and to identify any fundamental objections to the scheme. The amount of work for the architect may vary considerably. Also, it may be impossible to identify a reasonably realistic contract cost at this stage. Some architects may consider it appropriate to charge this work on a time basis.
Stage 2 – Concept Design
Sketch drawings will seek to interpret the brief and to identify a possible architectural solution. The intention is to settle on outline drawings, sometimes called final sketch plans. These will be produced after initial consultations with statutory authorities have taken place and the brief has been fully clarified.
Stage 3 – Developed Design
The concept design is developed to show the appearance of a building, how structures and fittings are incorporated and how important details of construction are intended to work. The agreed budget will be taken into account when developing the design information in harmony with previously identified objectives, for instance quality, long-term maintenance and energy performance.
This stage normally culminates in the architect providing the information for design and layout to accompany the client’s application to the local authority for planning permission.
Stage 4 – Technical Design
This stage is where the architect prepares, based on what has already been agreed, detailed technical information, suitable for the contractor to use in construction of the project and will include obtaining the necessary statutory consents. A common milestone that architects use in apportioning fees is that of ‘tender for the main construction contract’. In most, though by no means all, cases this will occur at the end of Stage 4.
Stage 5 – Construction
At this stage, the architect’s role will normally be limited to administering the Construction Contract and making site inspections as appropriate so as to ensure that the contractor is following the drawings and specification, work completed is of an appropriate standard and staged payments to the contractor are correctly certified.
In traditional procurement, the chartered architect’s role as contract administrator is to make periodic site visits to inspect the general progress of the work, to issue instructions to the contractor and, if necessary, to reject obviously unsatisfactory work. If you wish closer inspection of the contractor’s work you can employ the chartered architect makes more frequent visits to the site. Your chartered architect will report to you on matters of progress, on any unforeseen circumstances on site, any variations in budget or programme, and will issue periodic certificates for stage payments due to the contractor.
Stage 6 – Handover and Close Out
The architect acting as contract administrator will be concluding all aspects of the building contract including the inspection of defects, as they are rectified, or the production of certification required under the building contract.
Stage 7 – In Use
This refers to services that are usually considered supplementary to the main project (e.g. post project evaluations) and will therefore probably be charged at a separately negotiated rate.
Care of the building
Buildings need proper maintenance. If they are to remain in good condition, they require regular inspection, especially of all external elements. Your chartered architect can help you to plan a sequence of inspection and maintenance procedures especially for those parts of a building exposed to the rigors of our climate. If you so wish, such help can include the provision of a maintenance manual. Remember that minor problems can become major problems if not attended to (a stitch in time…!).
Budget and Fees
Budget for the Project
Construction cost and overall budget for the project are not the same.
The overall budget will include:
- Construction costs
- All professional and legal fees and expenses
- The statutory charges for applications for planning consent and building warrants
- A contingent sum for unforeseen events
- Other costs such as furniture, equipment, land acquisition, finance charges and VAT
Architects’ fees can be calculated in three ways: a percentage basis; a lump-sum basis; or time charged by agreement. Expenses may be included within the agreed fee or charged separately.
1 – Percentage basis
The architect’s fees are expressed as a percentage of the total construction cost, i.e., the cost as certified by the architect of the works, including site works, executed under a building contract. Before fees can be estimated, client and architect need to establish the services to be provided, the approximate construction budget and the nature of the work.
2 – Lump-sum basis
Lump sums are best used where the scope of the work can be clearly defined from the outset. It is important to define the parameters of services – i.e. time, project size and cost – where applicable, so that if these are varied more than an agreed amount, the lump sum itself may be varied.
3 – Time-charged basis
This basis is best used where the scope of work cannot be reasonably foreseen or where services cannot be related to the amount of construction. It may be wise to set an upper limit on fees to be incurred, perhaps on a staged basis. Records of time spent on services will be made available to clients on reasonable request.
Stirling Society of Architects
SSA Committee Members:
Sandy Lees (Acting President)
Tommy Thomson (Past President)
Caroline Meikle (Treasurer)
SSA Representatives at RIAS Committees:
Conservation - Sonya Linskaill
Council - Tommy Thomson
Education - Claire Gibbons
Practice - Tommy Thomson
PPC - Tommy Thomson
Sustainability - Mhairi Grant