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Extending your home - Part 1 - Building designers

Extending your home - Part 1 - Building designers

a designer sitting at his desk,with an architectural model

Image above courtesy of Tima Miroshnichenko at pexels.com

Wish to extend your home but don't know where to start? This is a brief introduction, aimed at small home or business owners. It explains the relevant legislation that will affect your plans for development, and what you need to do to comply with it. Who to contact with regard to advice about services, what you can expect from them and what you should be aware of, when organizing the build.

Today there is a plethora of competing experts offering consultancy services to the construction industry, but how to know which one to choose, and where to go for advice? Some professional groups have grown up in recent times, as the construction industry becomes ever more specialized, architectural technologists, project managers, planning consultants and planning supervisors, to name but a few, others have been around for a while, the architect, draftsman, surveyor, the engineer. Roles are continually shifting, a draftsman today might be considered as anyone operating a computer drafting package, where formally it may have referred to a technician's role, or an individual that might refer to himself as an ‘Architectural Technologist’. So which is right for your job, of course it depends on what you want to do. Architects typically excel at concept design work, courses in Architecture here in the u.k. are many and varied, but most are aimed at helping aspiring Architects to be creative in developing bold design concepts, individuals who can think outside the box. For many residential extensions, such training will not be required or be especially helpful, but if you are looking to build an exceptional bespoke design, their experience may be invaluable. Traditionally Architects have lead the building process from inception through to completion, co-ordinating the work of other consultants on the design team, preparing and evaluating tenders, carrying out site inspections and administering the contract, and perhaps post construction work, obtaining feedback from the client and appraising the performance of the building and design team. There is however a trend away from using the Architect as the lead consultant on many high value projects, which has seen the rise of the Project Manager, frequently appointed by the client to oversee the design teams work and administer the building contract.

The role of the Architectural Technologist is broadly similar in scope to the Architect, but seems to have grown out of that of the 'Technician', but without the same emphasis on concept design, as such he is less likely to be involved in the front ended design of high value, bespoke developments. The Archtectural technologist, as the name suggests, is a person who has studied building construction technology, and reached the required standard by the governing body, the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT). If your development does not require a high degree of conceptual work, then such a person would have the necessary skills to develop the design and construction details for your project. However, there may be occasions when the Architect's skill in concept design, would favor employing his services, if you are wishing to build a high end bespoke dwelling or extension for example, in addition, many architects specialize in certain areas of design and construction, such as the renovation and conservation of historic buildings, low carbon building and alternative green technologies, many others in commercial practice, specialize in the design and procurement of particular building types, such as retails development, education or health care, in which they may have a long track record of successful delivery.

The provision of Architectural design services in the U.K. is a deregulated industry, this is in the interest of encouraging competition in the market place, however, as a result, many who offer design services to homeowners may not have formal qualifications or training, although they may well offer services at advantageous rates. The prospective client needs to balance this against other considerations, members of professional bodies are regulated by their professional institutions, with regard the minimum standards of service you can expect, in addition, members are typically required to undertake Continuing Profession Development, or CPD, to update their skills, and both Architects and Architectural Technologists are required to carry Professional Indemnity Insurance, which should give some peace of mind, and indeed recourse to compensation, in the event of building failure due to poor design. These considerations may be of less importance with a small residential development employing only conventional building methods, than a bespoke design employing innovative construction methods, non standard details, or where the value of the work is substantial.

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