Architect or Designer - Who should you work with?

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If you are reading this, you are probably wondering whether you should hire a design professional to work on your project. More specifically, should you hire an architect or a designer?

When you have an initial idea, a property or a potential property, it is a good idea to contact a design professional who may be able to help you discover the potential of a property or advise what you should or could do, eg. if you may require planning permission to carry out the works. You may even consider engaging with an architect or a designer to gain their professional advice before making a large financial commitment to purchase a property. So do you require an architect, a designer or both?

Knowing what you want for your project, the project requirements are the first thing you should prepare because that will suggest if you require an architect or a designer to help you realise your aspirations.


Architects - Architects Registration Board (ARB) Register

According to the ARB’s website,

“By law, anyone who describes themselves as an architect and is involved in designing or constructing buildings must be properly trained and qualified, and registered with us.” The ARB is the UK’s regulator of architects, governing the use of the title ‘architect’ protected by the Architects Act 1997 under Section 20. The role performed by an architect is vast, this might include carrying out feasibility studies to acting as a contract administrator. Think of what works you need to achieve in your project, do you require external works like an external wall and roof to be constructed or re-built? In this case, you will need to appoint an architect. The scope of works an architect can provide is wide and should be defined within your appointment documents at an early stage. This will ensure relevant fees are quoted to avoid any surprise charges in the later stages of any projects. 



Designers is a broad term which includes architectural designers, interior designers, lighting designers, specialist facilities designers and many more. Architectural designers may have gone through architectural training but have not obtained the license to practice as an architect in the UK. Bear in mind that an architect under the ARB Register has obligations including the requirement to have professional indemnity insurance in place. For interior designers, there is no statutory regulator in the UK. The British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) is the only professional body for interior designers in the UK with an institute status, responsible for setting the highest standards of practice. So do you need to hire more designers for your project? Depending on your project requirements, an architect should be able to advise you on additional consultants you may need to achieve your desired project.


What are the considerations when choosing a design professional?

There are a number of factors which may help you decide which design professional to work with. The list below is not meant to be exhaustive, but it should give you some key points to consider.

1. Design flair and style (and some chemistry)

Finding an architect or a designer with design flair and style that is in line with your own is key. If you are already excited by the works of the architect or designer, either by discovering their work through social media or printed magazines, it would make your interaction with the architect or interior designer that you eventually hire that much more exciting. Also, you should have a feel of whether you will be excited to work with the architect or the designer and his or her team after your initial meeting.

2. Expertise, experience and track record

Whether your plan is to renovate a single room or build from a piece of land, finding a design professional with the right expertise will ease the process. An experienced professional will be able to discuss key considerations with you from an early stage, built from their wealth of experience accumulated through past projects. Look at their track record but also consider the merits of working with a talented young architect to build something you can be proud to call your own.

3. Project budget and professional design fees

The reality of architectural projects is heavily dependant on one aspect, the project budget. A project may seem successful on the drawing board, but the design solutions have to meet your project budget in order to realise it. Ensure you discuss your realistic project budget with the architect or designer because it is important for both parties to be on the same page to deliver a successful project. Do openly discuss project budget and also how the architect or designer charges their design fees, as early as your first meeting.

4. Proximity

Your proximity to the architect or designer as well as to your property could be a factor to keep in mind. We live in a world where we are well-connected via the phone, emails etc. However, an in-person meeting and site presence, especially on the latter stage of the project are crucial in the success of any project.

5. Project Team & Timeline

On your early engagement with your architect or designer, dependant on the size of your project, understand who will be in charge of your project on a daily basis. A basic understanding of the architectural practice or design studio’s structure may reveal how your project will be run. Ask to meet the team who will be working on your project, ask to see a programme to ensure you and the design professional is on the same page in terms of a timeline for the project.

We encourage discussions and would be happy to receive your questions or comments at

Yvonne Chua, Architect | 30 April 2019

Pitch Your Concepts, an online platform for property owners seeking architects.

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