Best Architects in Sheffield or Chesterfield?
If you’re thinking about a house extension or designing your dream home from scratch we’re pretty sure that one of the first questions to enter your head will be “Who are the Best Architects in Sheffield / Chesterfield” (delete / add location as appropriate). Truth is, whilst we like to think we’re up there with the best Architects / Architectural Designers* in Sheffield and Chesterfield there is not one single practice out there truly better than the rest. So how do you go about finding the Best Architect / designer for you? What you need to look at is a combination of factors to select the best practice to suit your needs.
In this month’s blog we are reviewing what we think are important questions that you need to answer before making that all important appointment, after all, this is a huge event and process for you so you want to be sure that you are in the hands of the best possible Architect for you
Who would I be working with?
You’ve met the owner of the Architects practice, they’ve impressed you and you believe that they get your vision for your project. Fantastic start, but are they going to be carrying out the work themselves or is your project going to be given to an office trainee for experience?
At some of the larger Architectural practices around there is a very high chance that much of the work will be passed onto the office juniors or Technicians to put your visions on the “paper”. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with this as such, after all we all have to learn somehow, but do you really want your home to be the testing ground for this process?
At JCAD you will be dealing with the person working on your project from day one through to completion so you can rest assured that there will be no errors in communication and what you see is what you get.
Do I believe that they can deliver my vision rather than imposing their own ideas onto me
Many designers and architects have their own preconceived ideas as to what constitutes good design but ultimately the final scheme needs to fit your own requirements, taste and style. Unfortunately some designers out there have their own preferences and will try to force you down a particular road on your project that may not be right for you.
A good designer can listen to your ideas and implement a design that fits in with the brief, not just satisfy their own egos or artistic whims.
At JCAD we are always keen to talk through your project first and do our utmost to design the scheme through “your eyes”, yes we may make additional suggestions that may be different from your original vision, but these suggestions should always be aimed at adding value to your own living experience and not just a preconceived idea of what we would like to do.
What is their past experience / portfolio like?
It’s always good to look at the portfolio of any prospective practice before contacting them, it should give you a feel for their style, design flair and ability to deliver the home that’s right for you. If you’re lucky they may have already completed a project similar to your own which gives you a great platform to start the project from and also give you the confidence that they can deliver your vision.
At JCAD we have an extensive and varied portfolio of works for you to peruse at your leisure, whilst we have many projects on this website we have many more projects (along with progress updates on many other sites) on our Google + listing found at https://plus.google.com/+JcadesignsCoUk/collections?hl=en
Are they a reputable Architects Practice?
If you haven’t had an Architect / Designer recommended to you from word of mouth then this one is a little trickier to determine, after all how can you know from a website whether a practice if good or not? (Particularly as many Architectural practices are behind the times when it comes to asking clients for reviews)
For this one it is worthwhile doing a little research and checking practices reviews on public directories such as yell.com, free index and google +. Why not ask them for references and visit past clients to discuss how they found the whole experience.
Here at JCAD we pride ourselves on customer satisfaction and are always more than happy to provide references to prospective clients on request, in addition to this we are very proud to have had a number of our clients leave us positive feedback and reviews on various directories to which you can see links to below:
What if something goes wrong, are we covered?
Not that anyone wants to think about a project going wrong on site but you should always ensure that you are protected (just in case) before you make any appointment. Ensure that any prospective Architects practice has full and appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII not to be confused with the annoying calls about your own PPI). Ask to see insurance certificates and if a practice can’t produce one they probably aren’t insured. If this is the case you should really ask yourself how many more corners are they cutting!?
JCAD always have full PII and are happy to evidence this before starting any commission upon request.
Do they get involved on site?
Some practices produce what they term “Building Regulations drawings” only. Whilst these may look much like construction drawings be warned, many of these types of drawings are a guide only and leave a lot of the detail up to the builder to resolve on site. Whilst this service is generally cheaper upfront it also leaves you exposed to a potentially high proportion of additional costs above the initial builders quotes as they legitimately couldn’t allow for all of the works from the information originally provided by your Architect / Designer.
You may also find that firms who only produce building regulations drawings do not take responsibility for works on site or even assist builders with any queries on site.
Rest assured, here at JCAD we always issue highly detailed and comprehensive construction builders works plans and are always on hand to assist builders with any query they may have. We usually visit sites on an informal basis throughout the building phase whenever we’re passing and even offer further site inspection packages to clients upon request.
Meet with a number of practices.
There are many other minor things to take into consideration before appointing an Architect or designer but generally those listed above cover the main points, but above all we recommend meeting with a practice first and getting to know their thoughts for your scheme and exactly what they offer to be sure they’re right for you. After all, it’s only when you are in possession of all the facts that you can be sure you are comparing Apples for Apples.
We firmly believe that the process of working with an Architect should be a fun and exciting process and the most successful projects have always benefitted from an open and collaborative process which engages and encourages design development from all parties involved, it is after all your home so you should feel free to express your views and ideas throughout the process. If you aren’t excited at the prospect of working together with a certain practice or individual then it’s probably best you look at alternatives until you find the right practice for you.
If you are thinking about your own grand designs then we wish you the best of luck finding the right Architect / Design practice and hopefully we will be hearing from you soon.
*In the interests of clarity we should point out that JCAD are Architectural Technologists (not to be confused with Technicians) rather than Architects in the traditional sense. Look out for our future blog explaining the difference between the two in more detail and exploring why our service is right for you.