Richard Dawson, chartered architect based in Bingley, West Yorkshire, providing architectural services and project management.


·          Do I need an architect?

If you are planning to build a new house, extend your present home, build a commercial premises or make alterations to an existing building you may need an architect.  In all of these circumstances you are likely to need an expert who can draw up plans, design new accommodation and make a submission to the Local Authority requesting Planning Permission and other approvals.  In addition, an Architect can manage the project from start to finish including overseeing the construction phase to check that build quality and progress match the project specification.  Employing an Architect will save you time, and give you peace of mind in the knowledge that the process is being overseen by professionals with extensive experience in the field. 

·          What does an architect do?

They look at the overall vision then produce a sketch plan to demonstrate how the building may work spatially. They consider the form, size and context of the site and then asses the materials that are likely to be used, as well as providing constructive advice on realising the clients’ aspirations.

·          How much does an architect cost?

The price depends on the project and the service that’s required.  Small projects can be on an hourly rate, fixed cost or percentage of construction cost and can be subject to VAT.

 ·          Does an architect save me money?

Yes, it is about getting the sequence of actions or plan of work in the right order from evaluation of the site, premises or feasibility study through to completion.

·          Do I need planning permission?

Most new design or extensions require planning permission.  It covers areas particularly for new homes, replacement dwellings, new premises, change of use, listed buildings and buildings within conservation areas or National Parks. Each idea or design needs to be tested or checked against planning policy criteria ‘use classes’ and each project may have a planning history which needs to be considered before preparing a solution. For instance; as a home owner a rear or side extension maybe permitted development under ‘Class A’.  Permitted development is development that can be undertaken without the need to submit the planning application.  Areas covered are extensions, porches, loft conversions, roof alterations, outbuildings and other structures within a garden, patios and driveways, decking, chimneys and flues, fences, gates, walls and turbines.

·          Approximately how long does a project take?

Usually a householder planning application takes eight weeks; a building control application takes about five weeks.  Other negotiations such as party wall awards, site investigations and services using other consultants like structural engineering, ecologists, for example: bat survey and tree work has to be factored in and they have their own time scales.  Programming of tender and site work is usually tailored to suit the project.

 ·          What materials do you use?

Traditional construction like stone, brick and block to modern methods of construction like timber frame design and SIP’s panels.  R Dawson Architect specialises in trying to source local materials manufactured in the UK and also favor materials with low/embodied energy that are natural and have low embodied energy content.

 ·          What kind of follow up support do we receive?

A follow up visit for feedback on the service or the way the building is working can be arranged.  Monitoring of renewable systems can be carried out online and good housekeeping measures can be discussed and bills monitored.

On larger commercial projects a health and safety file will be prepared which gives recommendations and manufacturers information for cleaning, maintaining and repairing the building and generally will include information about the particular installed systems and certificates.   This is usually prepared by a CDM (Health and Safety) coordinator as a separate appointment.

 ·          Do I need other consultants?

You may need some or all of these depending on project requirements; structural engineer, quantity surveyor, energy assessor, party wall assessor.