Hiring a Design Professional

Are you thinking about employing an architectural consultant or building design professional?

Having been employed as a house designer and project supervisor for the last 15 years, I thought it might be useful to examine how clients can approached their project to achieve a successful outcome.

For this example I am going to look at one of my past projects. Mr & Mrs Jackson had purchased a very attractive cottage in South Yorkshire. The cottage had a two-story element with bedrooms and a lounge, the garage and some out buildings had been converted to form a long corridor of random rooms.


The Jackson’s had already started work on the two-story section, redecorating and renovating the bathrooms as well as opening up the ground floor with some beams. All pretty standard and fairly easy to undertake.

Where the Jackson’s needed help was with the redesign the out buildings to get the best use of space. They had a wish list of requirements, kitchen, utility, bathroom, storage rooms and a spare bedroom.

An architect had already been out and met the Jackson’s, unfortunately he had not presented ideas that the Jackson’s wanted to pursue and they felt they couldn’t communicate their ideas back across to him and things had come to a standstill. At this point it’s not wrong to walk away and rethink. Designers aren’t always going to translate your ideas on the first attempt, sometimes they might simply not be suited to the style you want to achieve.

The Jackson’s quite rightly cut ties and went back on-line to look for a new designer who had examples of work similar to their ideals.

I met the Jackson’s in late August 2014. We spent an hour discussing the project over a cup of tea, had a look around the work that the Jackson’s had already undertaken. It is always a useful way for a designer to get a feel for the style of clients if we can see something of your taste.

Mr & Mrs Jackson knew what they wanted in terms of spaces, and they knew what they wanted to spend. But I would say most importantly they knew what they didn’t want in terms of design. That might sound odd, but for me it’s great to know which lines of style not to pursue. The Jackson’s understood that the design of the outside of their cottage was just as important as the inside. Kitchens and bathrooms are changed every few years, the outside is there for a lot longer.

Sketch Scheme

What made this project work:-

A good brief – An understanding of what was required from the project in terms of size/rooms/costs. The brief whilst comprehensive wasn’t constrictive.

The budget. We agreed early on what architectural fee’s would be due and when. We also agree that because the builder was a family friend of the Jackson’s that full project management wouldn’t be required, but an hourly charge would suffice as and when site visits where required.

Sketch designs that showed a style and intention that worked for the client. You should never accept a scheme you aren’t happy with. A good designer should be able to maintain a favored style and amend drawings to suit your requirements. I produced several sketch schemes with different layouts and materials before the final scheme was agreed.

Be prepared to compromise, this advice is for everyone (myself included).

Work with someone who wants to get the best out of your project. If you don’t feel comfortable with your designer/builder/tradesman then your project won’t be the best it can be. Remember you’re spending a good amount of money on this. It needs to be right.

Once you have your team in place, make sure they talk to each other. This way everyone can be sure that the right information is provided. If a builder is unsure about how to use a product then the designer can make sure that the right information is available. If I’m involved in a bespoke design I like to work with the builders to ensure the project that gets built is the one that the clients approved.

The proposal is innovative in design and has a modern approach with the materials proposed. It is felt that this would be a positive feature to the street scene due to its modern design of cedar cladding and white render. There is a mix of properties on the street but the materials will still match with the area.The extension is minor in nature, is sympathetic in scale, materials and design and 
integrates well with the existing property and surrounding area and therefore accords with the guidance and the appropriate policies” —-Doncaster Planning Department.



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