Do I need an architect for my project?

Do I need an architect for my project? Architecture Glossary

Any home construction project requires extensive planning—from budget to design and execution—and this doesn’t even include the legal side of things. If you’re new to renovating, this can feel like a lot. Sound familiar? It may be worth your while to hire an architect to help you out. Architects are professionals in all things home and building. They have the experience and expertise you need to assess and evaluate the structure of the property, provide sound design advice, and ensure the project is carried out without a hitch. Let’s take a closer look at when you’ll need to bring an architect on board.

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When do I need an architect?

Getting an architect really depends on how confident you feel in seeing a renovation or home construction through to completion. This means you need to sit and think about all the aspects of the project, from planning, gaining planning permission, site inspection, design, and building to scope. Their expertise can help move projects along smoothly, and the experienced architects in the industry can provide valuable insights and ideas to ensure you remain compliant throughout. They may also be able to provide ideas on aspects of the build, like materials, cost-saving advice, and regulatory tips. Here, we’ll look at the specific instances in which you may need an architect.

Do I need an architect to draw plans?

Drawing up official, compliant plans is essential for getting planning permission over the line. Although not all renovation projects are complex, having well-laid-out plans drawn up by a professional architect is essential. Architects are often confused with draftsmen. To clarify, draftsmen work on very specific aspects of the home design, such as mechanical layouts and electrical plans.

On the other hand, architects can envisage and provide an illustrated overview of the entire project through to completion, which may be necessary when hiring new building contractors, seeking planning permission, or providing official, updated plans for the house when the deeds are handed over to new owners. It’s, therefore, highly advisable that you hire an architect to draw up plans for renovation. One of the other major benefits is that they can bring new ideas to the table, helping you make optimal use of your space and providing clever suggestions for the best possible design using the available resources.

Do I need an architect to draw plans in the UK?

UK regulations are particularly stringent, with a large emphasis placed on health and safety, structural quality, and eligibility for occupancy. If you are planning on renovating or extending your home in the UK, an architect can bring their expertise to the table, ensuring the job meets regulatory standards and quality criteria. This will ultimately save you time and money, mitigating the need for alterations later.

Do I need an architect for an extension?

Even a small extension to your home may not seem like a huge deal, but it alters the layout and appearance of your home. Choosing whether to get an architect for your extension also depends on its purpose. Are you planning to simply extend your living space, or do you require an entirely new room, kitchen, or office space?

Architects are especially valuable if you are building a home extension that will impact the exterior appearance of your home, such as a rear extension, side extension, wraparound, or two-storey extension. A key reason for hiring an architect is their legal obligation to uphold certain building standards. Architects are licensed professionals who need to adhere to specific codes and standards, whereas builders do not need any such qualifications. Obtaining an architectural license requires years of training.

Do I need an architect for a garage conversion?

A similar argument can be made for a garage conversion, especially if you’re planning to convert the garage into a space for frequent occupancy. For example, you may want to convert your garage into an additional bedroom or living space. An architect can help assess the structural integrity of the original garage and provide guidance on the best use of the space. They will consider your intentions for the space and advise on both interior and exterior construction and design ideas.

Do I need an architect for planning permission?

In some areas of renovation, full planning permission may be required. Planning permission is the final, entire design you need to submit to the authorities for the project to be built. The plans should include everything from materials used, electrical plans, plumbing, appearance, and size. With years of experience behind them, architects are well-versed in obtaining plans and all other necessary documentation to get the full planning permission you need to proceed with your project. If you’re on a tight deadline, an architect can prove to be invaluable when getting the go-ahead from the necessary regulatory bodies, local authorities, and neighbouring residents. An architect can offer reports and design appraisals which will help you get the permission you need.

Do I need an architect for outline planning permission?

When renovating, you might need to get outline planning permission. This is the initial approval you need to obtain from the local authorities before starting any new development project. Essentially, it’s the sign-off you need to proceed with the project but does not include details such as the actual appearance of the finished product or the materials used. It’s, therefore, the initial go-ahead for the development in principle.

If getting outline planning permission is necessary to begin renovating, an architect can assist in meeting the initial criteria, as well as making projections for what may be required for local planning permission and any location-specific permissions required. This comes down to their experience in the trade and in the area. However, outline planning permission is easier to obtain for self-builders than full planning permission.

Do I need an architect for a loft conversion?

Loft alterations are a great way to extend your home upwards and can provide space with only subtle alterations to the home’s exterior. However, despite these minor changes, loft conversions are only viable if the interior is structurally sound. If you or your contractor are not completely sure of the best way to proceed, the results can be detrimental. But having an architect on board will provide you the assurance you need that proceeding with a loft conversion is safe and achievable.

Architects have specific skills that allow them to accurately assess a loft’s structural make-up and can, therefore, provide professional advice on the best way forward for your loft conversion. Converting a loft is only possible if the size, roof design, space, and structure are appropriate. Hiring an architect can save money and time compared to what may transpire without architectural consultation, even if it’s just in the planning stages of a loft conversion.

Is your plot suitable for housing?

Finding the right plot is one of the initial and most crucial steps in a self-build project. Here’s how to determine if a plot is suitable for building your new home:

  • Planning permission review: If your plot already has planning permission, you need to review it carefully. It’s key to make sure the permissions align with your vision and requirements for the new house. If the existing permissions don’t meet your project’s requirements, you may need to amend them or apply for new planning permissions or licenses.
  • Principle of development: For plots without existing planning permissions, the first hurdle is to demonstrate the principle of development. To do this, you need to do some research to fully understand the local planning policies concerning new housing developments in the areas and determine whether or not your proposed self-build aligns with these policies.
  • Local planning policies: Each local planning authority in the UK has its own set of policies that govern new housing. These need to be thoroughly reviewed to understand the likelihood of obtaining planning permission. Some local authorities might have specific policies supporting self-build projects, especially within defined settlement boundaries. It’s generally easier to secure approval for plots within these boundaries compared to those outside, which are often in countryside locations.

Your development options as a self-builder

When it comes to self-build housing, there are several development options that may be suitable for you. These apply to both urban and rural locations depending on specific circumstances and planning policies:

  • Replacement Dwelling: This involves demolishing an existing building to construct a new, often larger, dwelling.
  • Back-land development: Developing new housing at the rear of an existing property line, such as in a large garden.
  • Infill development: Building a new house in a gap within an already developed area.
  • Edge of Settlement: Gaining permission to build on the outskirts of existing settlements, especially if the local authority has not met housing supply requirements.
  • Conversion and Change of Use: Transforming existing non-residential buildings like offices, retail units, or barns into residential homes.

Dealing with planning authorities

Engaging with your local planning authority in the early stages of design and planning can be a game changer when going ahead with your self-build project. Initial discussions with the authorities offer valuable insights into what they expect. In these discussions, they will also assess the viability and technicalities of development proposals. By consulting early, you can gain a clear understanding of the specific requirements and constraints that might influence your project, and make the necessary adjustments to the design to become compliant. This ensures your planning application is watertight and in line with the authorities’ requirements.

Planning and dealing with local authorities for custom-built homes are services WindsorPatania specialises in. We have a proven record of accomplishment with a 97% planning approval rate, and we are well-equipped to help ensure your project moves through the planning approval process successfully. Tell us about your project today by booking a free call.


To sum up: Why do I need an architect?

For those taking on a self-build home renovation or project, hiring an architect may seem like an additional expense. However, these experts have gone through rigorous training to become adept in their field. Although, in most cases, it’s not necessarily a legal requirement to have an architect collaborate with you on a project, they can certainly add great value to renovation work.

With experience in regulatory standards, ample design ideas for interior and exterior space usage, project management, and a deep knowledge of materials and cost-saving techniques, hiring an architect is highly beneficial in most renovation projects. Architects also have connections in the industry, so they have good working relationships with reliable contractors who can add value to the project. Essentially, it depends on the project’s complexity and the requirements of the client.

WindsorPatania: Your partners in architecture

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to the question, ‘Do I need an architect?’ we want to hear from you. The team at WindsorPatania are always on the lookout for a new challenge, and we love hearing about new ideas from prospective clients. Our years of experience have positioned us as top players in our field. If you want to reach out, you can book a free call with us today with no obligations on your side. Partner with us and look forward to truly great personal services you can trust.

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