How do I pick the right architect?

Clients often appoint an architect who is known to them or who has been recommended, or whose work they admire. This can be a sensible approach, unless you need a range of particular skills and services to match your requirements more precisely, in which case a more structured process of selection is recommended.

Look for a practice with experience of your type of project or one that shares your aspirations. Check how many similar projects they have built, their contacts with the local planning department and their track record of approvals. Follow up their references to find out about how well they communicated, how responsive they were to changes, and how effective they were at managing the budget. 


Can an architect guarantee planning permission?

No architect can guarantee planning permission, which is granted at the discretion of the planning authority. When making a planning application an architect should be able to help you to consider statutory provisions and Local Authority guidelines, which may be negotiable.


Does an architect need to provide their client with a copy of their professional indemnity insurance (PII)?

An architect should advise the client that they have adequate and appropriate insurance cover. The easiest way to do this is to include this in their Terms of Engagement. They may well wish to provide further details of that cover upon request to a client, but they should check with their insurers before providing a copy of their insurance policy. There is, however, no obligation placed on an architect to provide their client with a copy of their PII policy.


How much should an architect charge?

There is no tariff for architects’ fees, but the level of fees must be agreed in writing with the client in advance before any work is undertaken. Fee disputes are costly for both parties and ensuring that the fee or method of calculating it is set out in writing at the outset is not only something which the architect is expected to do, but will also help avoid problems later.


Does an architect need to provide their client with drawings in CAD format?

Unless the format of drawings is specifically provided for in a contract, there is no obligation to provide drawings in CAD format. Clients may wish to ask for this to be provided for at the outset. Why should I choose a RIBA Chartered Practice? Only architectural practices that meet a strict eligibility criteria can register as a RIBA Chartered Practice.

All RIBA accredited Chartered Practices:


  • employ a required number of individual RIBA Chartered Architects
  • have appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance
  • have an effective Quality Management system
  • have comprehensive Health and Safety and Environmental policies in place
  • are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with a Code of Practice in a manor appropriate to their status. View the full Code of Practice.

They are committed to excellence in design and customer service. That’s why the RIBA only promotes accredited Chartered Practices to clients.


What are my Health and Safety obligations?

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects. The regulations changed in April 2015 and apply to both domestic and commercial clients.

These place a duty on the client to make suitable arrangements for managing a project, principally making sure duty holders are appointed (ie a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor).


  • The HSE provides guidance for domestic clients http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/domestic-clients.htm
  • The CITB provides guidance for commercial clients http://www.citb.co.uk/national-construction-college/health-and-safetycourses/cdm-for-clients1/ 


What is the project process I will go through?

All projects go through more or less the same process, starting with the initial briefing; through to design development; preparing documentation for planning permission where required; producing the technical drawings for building regulations and construction purposes; tendering and finally construction and handover.

The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 sets out these stages and is used by the industry as standard. You can find out more at www.ribaplanofwork.com


I notice you have ISO 9001:2015 certification. What are the benefits to me as a client?

Supporting an organisation’s aims and objectives, an ISO 9001 Quality Management System documents the processes, procedures, and responsibilities for achieving quality policies and objectives. Based on eight quality management principles, the ISO 9001:2015 standard defines the way an organisation operates to meet the requirements of its customers and stakeholders:


  • Customer focus
  • Leadership
  • Involvement of people
  • Process approach
  • Organisational context
  • Continual improvement
  • Fact-based decision making
  • Risk-based thinking


Who owns the Copyright of a Design/Building?

The Architect owns the copyright in the work produced in the performance of the Services and generally asserts the Architect’s moral rights and all other rights to be identified as the author of the artistic work/work of architecture comprising the Project.

The Client shall have a licence to copy and use and allow other Consultants and contractors providing services to the Project to use and copy drawings, documents and bespoke software produced by the Architect in performing the Services but only for purposes related to the Project on the Site or part of the Site to which the design relates.