Do I Need an Architect?

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Leyton House, is a contender for this years RIBA House of the Year. A complicated scheme designed by an Architectural practice

Why Ask?

Walters Architects are often asked ‘Do I need an Architect?’ and we totally understand why.

Usually, people don’t really know what an architect does. It’s quite easy really, you need an architect to either design a building or to achieve permission to build. Possibly both.

It’s probably best to be clear at this stage; designing buildings is not necessarily the same as architecture. Simple buildings can be designed by almost anyone and builders are usually pretty good at this. Architecture is usually associated with more complex buildings which take a lot more planning, coordination and detail. For this, you do need an Architect.

So you might think, if I only want a simple building designing, ‘Do I need an Architect’? Well , you might not but it is always best to ask. If you qualify for ‘Permitted Development’ it means you are permitted to develop (or build) within certain prescribed criteria without needing formal planning permission. Most people think this is a building of a certain size within a certain area. Sometimes it is, but a builder may not know this and so you’d need to check with the council. You can use an Architect for checking and submitting applications.

Using an Architect
The Planning Portal will tell you all about Permitted Development. This may help you decide if you need an Architect or not.

Some buildings are special or within specialist areas. Properties like; Listed Buildings or properties within Conservation Areas. For these type of buildings, you would be advised to talk to an architect.

How do I Decide?

If you are looking for a straight forward design, then it’s easy, but if you want a complicated and considered project then you may need an architect.

Architects draw plans, elevations and sections to communicate their designs. They also write reports and provide written specifications whereas most builders may have a simple conversation with the client and go from there. It really is dependent on the complexity of the scheme.

If you want to use a builder you don’t know, then it’s best to get all the information they require up front rather than rely on the builder guessing what you want. You can use an Architect to prepare this information.

It is always good to remember, interpretation can cause issues.

It’s All About Control

If you have drawings and specifications prepared and agreed before you speak to a builder you are more likely to control what the end product looks like. Obviously, if you make it up as you go, with the builder, nobody knows how it will end.

Using an Architect
If you want a less conventional, creative solution then you need an architect.

How do I find an Architect?

Best place to find a suitable Architect is at the Royal Institute of British Architects. They have a list of architects in your area and will proactively help you find one once you have completed their on line form.

For more information on how to find an Architect go to the RIBA find and Architect or RIBA How to use an Architect .


You could also visit our website and see if we look a suitable match for your potential project or you could call the office on 0116 2541830 to discuss your intentions with one of our team.

Either way, you need a lot of information to build or extend a property so why not have the professionals do it.