Need? Well, probably not. However…. Architects can carry out a range of services, that can bring a positive influence to many projects, and not always only buildings!
Typically they are used to assess a user’s needs, through briefing and will develop design options and ideas with their client, leading on to more detail until construction can take place. Their skill set covers a broad range and each architect will have different experience, knowledge and interests. They are all good at listening and understanding how people live in, live with and use buildings and spaces.
With a keen interest in design and a background in technical knowledge of construction, they are well placed to turn this brief into a new design to unlock a client’s goals. You may have an idea what you want to do in order to achieve your goals, however sometimes a practised eye and 3rd party can run through some other options and variations. It may be that the final chosen option is your original idea, however running through some other options gives you confidence that the scheme is the right one for you. If you need a simple loft conversion, or basic extension to match your existing building, use of an architect may be more than is required, going direct to a decent builder instead. Architects prove most useful if you have a complex or overlapping series of goals, have an unusual house layout, need planning or Listed Building consent or want to make sure you have a well-thought-through proposal before committing to construction.
There is no formal requirement for using an architect in the UK for building work, but you will need Building control approval and may need Planning consents, which an architect can help with. All architects will have completed a minimum requirement of education and experience. The term ‘Architect’ is protected by law, people and companies who are not qualified and registered with the Architects Registration Board must use alternative titles such as ‘architectural services or design’ or similar.
This is not to say you will get sub-standard service from these other companies, just that they are not regulated by the ARB and their minimum professional standards. All projects are different, however they often follow the same general process and progression. Below is a brief summary of the route that most small-mid sized extensions/alterations follow. It is a useful guide to summarise the process but not intended as formal or rigid advice, but may prove to be of use to further explain the process.