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How to find the right architecture practice for your project

This blog was recently published on the Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens website. They’re often asked by their clients for advice on finding an architecture practice, so we were more than happy to lend a hand and share our top 5 tips for finding the right architecture practice.

By the way, if you’re looking for a new kitchen or perhaps some bespoke furniture look no further than Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens. We worked with them on our Sycamore Hall project and share their values for using a sustainable approach to create beautiful designs with minimal impact on the planet.

Finding the right architect

There’s a lot to consider when searching for an architect and it’s one of many decisions you’ll have to make when you embark on a project. Finding an architect that is the ‘best fit’ for you is crucial to the success of your project.

The right architect will make the entire process easier. It’s their job to guide you through the journey, explain the unknowns and bring your dream home to life.

How do they communicate?

It sounds obvious, but we can’t stress enough how important communication is from the get-go. What questions does the architect ask you during the first phone call? Do they seem genuinely excited by your project? Asking the right questions is important, but do they also challenge your thinking to get the best outcome?

At Paul Testa Architecture, we hope that clients want more than ‘just a set of drawings’ from us – this is after all one of the most important things (and expensive!) things you can do. Creating your dream home is more than just a set of drawings, and your architect should demonstrate that.

Poor communication can cause costly delays during your project, so when choosing an architect make sure you’re having honest conversations and there’s mutual respect.

Are they qualified?

Look out for a qualified architect registered with the Architects Registration Board and the Royal Institute of British Architects. This means they are fully qualified to deliver the service you need. A RIBA chartered practice must also prove they have suitable management systems in place, and follow the Code of Practice (a set of standards), all of which can give you peace of mind.

Working with a registered architect also guarantees they have Professional Indemnity Insurance if anything goes wrong. This also gives you, the client, protection if you’re unhappy with their service.

Can you see your home in their work?

Look for a practice with the relevant project experience you’re looking for, whether that’s on their website or a house you’ve driven past. Take time to look through their portfolio and make sure you like what you see before making contact. Whilst you’re on their website, don’t forget to check out their reviews.

Over 60% of our work is from referrals, so be sure to ask your friends and family for recommendations. Even better if you’ve seen the architect’s work in person.

Do they have cost-management processes?

This leads to a really important part of your project planning: budget! Undertaking a project, whether that’s a new build or a renovation, is a significant investment. Your budget is a key part of your brief and managed carefully by your architect. When discussing your budget it’s important to look at the entire budget including professional fees, VAT and construction costs.

Our motto is “we treat your budget as if it’s our own”. This means being upfront about costs and what our fees will be, and taking great care with our client’s budget. Ultimately, your chosen architect should base the design and materials that give the best performance, aesthetic and durability for your budget.

Would you have a drink with them?

This might sound like a funny consideration, but be ready to spend a lot of time with your chosen architect. They’re going to learn a lot about you and your lifestyle. We’re not saying you have to be best friends, but you will be spending your precious time with them, during one of the most important chapters of your life. It’s important to both you and your architect to make the process an enjoyable one.

For further advice, check out our Advice page and be sure to visit the SSK website for lots of beautiful kitchens and interior inspiration. We particularly love this colourful, sustainable kitchen as featured on Channel 4’s Ugly House to Lovely House.