Why use an architect?

Architects are skilled professionals governed by a strict Code of Professional Conduct set out by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) in order to protect the interest of the public. Architects must also carry appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance should anything go wrong for the Client.

When you work with an architects they can add great value to a project both financially and with its design. When you hire an Architect they will also:

  • Work closely with the Client and translate your ideas and dreams into a building perfect for your needs.
  • Guide you through the requirements of the law and regulations.
  • Give unbiased advice about methods of construction appropriate to your project.
  • Help you choose a contractor and co-ordinate a team of specialist consultants such as, engineers, quantity surveyors, builders and subcontractors.
  • Look beyond your immediate requirements to design flexible buildings that will adapt with your changing needs.
  • Create a well designed building that can reduce your bills now and increase its long-term value, saving you money by maximizing your investment.
  • Design with an holistic approach taking into consideration all aspects of the building and its users, creatively solving problems while ensuring you get value for money
  • Guide you through the complex procedures of planning permission and building regulations and oversee the whole project from start through to completion.

What services do architects provide?

When hiring an Architect you can employ them for your entire project or to advise on particular parts, depending on your needs. At Studio J we offer a full architectural service including:

  • Ideas and advice
  • Brief development
  • Feasibility studies
  • Site surveys
  • CAD drafting services
  • Listed building advice
  • Planning applications
  • Building regulations applications
  • Construction detailing
  • Contract administration
  • Design for the disabled
  • Refurbishment, new build or remedial designs
  • Interior and landscape design
  • Party Wall advice
  • Oversee onsite construction

How much do architects charge?

This will always depend on the type of project and the level of involvement you require from your Architect. To quote figures without knowing the project details would be misleading. Generally there are 3 ways an Architect may charge;

  • A lump sum calculated on the expected work required
  • An hourly rate
  • A percentage of the contract sum

Some companies offer fee packages which may give the client a better initial idea of costs but are not tailored to individual projects which may mean the client could lose value for money paying for services that are not necessarily required.

At Studio J we are often able to provide a guide quote after a brief phone conversation or exchange of emails. Then, following an initial consultation with the client, we will provide a detailed written scope of works showing the breakdown of services provided, their associated costs and when payment would be expected. This means there will be no unexpected hidden costs to the client. If initially it is not clear how the project will proceed, or the client wishes, we can provide an hourly rate of £75 – £100 p/h depending on the work involved. For larger projects, should the client prefer, a percentage cost can be agreed.

When choosing an Architect, like with most things, the cheapest is not always the best option to go for. Make sure you know fully what you are paying for and that it is appropriate for your needs.

What are the ARB and RIBA?

Anybody advertising their services as an Architect must be registered with the ARB.

The ARB, Architects Registration Board, is the UK’s statutory regulators of Architects. They are an independent public interest body, with the key functions of:

  • Prescribing the qualifications needed to become an Architect
  • Keeping a register of all Architects in the UK
  • Ensuring that Architects meet the standards for conduct and practice
  • Investigate complaints about Architects
  • Making sure only people of the register can use the title Architect

If you are wanting to employ an Architect ensure you ask for their ARB membership number to check they are fully qualified. You can find out further information on the ARB at their website.


You do not have to be a member of the RIBA to advertise your services as an Architect but most Architects do. To become a full chartered member and use the affix of RIBA you must be a fully qualified Architect having been awarded qualifications for Parts 1, 2 & 3 confirmed by the ARB.

The RIBA, Royal Institute of British Architects is the UK body for architecture and the architecture profession. They provide support for members and aim to advance architecture by demonstrating benefit to society and promoting excellence in the profession.

You can find out further information on the RIBA at their website.

What are architectural designers and technicians etc?

Some practices offer services as Architectural Designers, Building Designers, Architectural Technicians or Technologists and many other variations that may imply they are Architects. It is important to understand that they are not qualified Architects and you do not have the same protection provided by the ARB.

Many of them are talented construction professionals but an equal number are little more than draftsmen and cannot provide a comprehensive service backed up by the Architects Professional Code of Conduct. Often their fees may be cheaper but make sure they can provide the full service you require.

Architectural Technologists have their own qualifying body, the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) with their own code of conduct. Chartered Architectural Technologists specialise in the science and technology of architecture, building design and construction. For more information visit the CIAT website.

If you are wanting to employ an Architect ensure you ask for their ARB membership number to check they are fully qualified.

How can I get planning permission?

There are two types of planning permissions; Outline Planning Approval and Full Planning Approval. Outline Planning applications deal primarily with the principal of the proposals without providing detailed designs. Full Planning applications require the provision of an in-depth design proposal of what is to be built.

Before any construction work can commence a full planning application must be submitted. This will involve completing a detailed application form along with submitting drawings of the site location, and existing and proposed plans/elevations. There may be further information required too depending on the individual project such as a Design & Access Statement and flood risk & traffic reports etc. A fee for the application will also be required, payable to the local authority, this is currently £231 for a full planning application for a residential extension and £487 for a new house.  Once the application has been validated a decision will be made within 8 weeks. Once permission has been granted work must start within 3 years or it will become invalid.

In some cases planning permission may not be needed. Most residential loft conversions and small rear extensions will fall under Permitted Development however it is always advisable to have this confirmed by your local authority planning department.

For further information on planning permissions and permitted development please refer to our guide, or the official government Planning Portal website.

What are building regulations?

The Building Regulations set the standards for the design and construction of buildings. These are in place to ensure accepted levels in health and safety, energy conservation and access. Complying with Building Regulations is a separate matter from gaining planning permission.

The simplest way to gain Building Regulations approval is by complying with the government published guidance known as Approved Documents. Your Architect or builder will submit the relevant technical information to an approved inspector, along with a fee. The inspector will check this information and also make site visits to ensure the construction is in line with the approved information. Once the inspector is satisfied the building has been designed and built to the relevant standards they will approve the work.

Building regulations approval is needed for all major and minor work related to new builds, extensions or alterations, including underpinning of foundations and the insertion of insulation into a cavity wall, the change of use of a building and installation/extensions of services.

There are a number of new buildings or extensions that do not need Building Regulations approval although this is still subject to certain criteria on size, construction and position, these include:

  • garden sheds
  • summer-houses
  • domestic garages
  • greenhouses
  • conservatories
  • porches
  • covered way
  • covered yards
  • carports

If in doubt always seek advice from a building control officer, your Architect or building contractor.