do i need an architect for an extension?


A Professional On Your Side

When planning a house extension many people are unsure whether they need an architect. While at first it may seem tempting to save money by handling everything yourself or going directly to a builder, there are many reasons why using an architect is important for a successful project, and why if you don’t you could be left exposed to risk and problems that a builder wouldn’t be able to make you aware of.

When you use an architect, you are safeguarding your investment in your home and ensuring that your house extension project is completed efficiently and to a high standard. In this blog post we will expand on these points and explain why using an architect is essential for quality, safety, and value for money in any home extension project.

Paragraph 80 House Exterior

House Extensions and Refurbishments

using an architect


What is an Architect?

An architect is a highly trained professional who can help you design and plan your building project, from concept to completion. Architects must study for at least 7 years before they can qualify and be registered with the ARB in the UK. They are skilled at interpreting your ideas and requirements, and translating them into a detailed and considered design, getting planning permission, and producing technical drawings and specifications for the work that can be used by contractors and builders. Using an architect is not only about bringing design flair to your project, it is about ensuring that the work is done properly at every stage.


Small Projects

can an architect still help?


Yes, architects are not only for big projects. In fact using an architect can often bring about even higher benefits on small projects, creating high quality spaces and design choices, and ensuring the work is done properly where it might otherwise have been left in the hands of a small builder without any design or construction training. So even if your project is small, the advice in this post is relevant to you. Like many architects, we work on extension projects starting with construction budgets from as little as £50,000 and bring the same professionalism to all of our work regardless of cost or size.

Additionally, an architect will ensure that the design complies with relevant building regulations and planning laws. This means that they will be able to help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure that the project is completed efficiently and to a high standard. The Building Safety Act 2022 puts new and important legal obligations on all homeowners planning projects on their homes, no matter how small, which builders often don’t understand. This can leave homeowners with serious problems if not properly carried out, but an architect can advise on all of the relevant legislation and can act as Principal Designer to make sure that this is all done properly, safeguarding you and your project.


why to use an architect


There are several reasons why using an architect is important for any building project, including:


  • Expertise:
    Architects have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in building design, construction methods, and materials. They can help you design a building that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, sustainable, and safe. Additionally, an architect will be able to advise you on the most cost-effective way to achieve your goals, while still ensuring that the project meets all necessary standards.
  • Communication:
    An architect can act as a liaison between you and the contractors and builders. They can help you communicate your vision and ideas to the team and ensure that everyone is on the same page. This can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that the project runs smoothly.
  • Planning:
    An architect can help you plan your project from start to finish, including creating a budget, developing a timeline, and coordinating the work of different contractors and builders. This can help ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.
  • Compliance:
    An architect will ensure that the building design complies with all relevant building regulations and planning laws. This means that you can avoid costly mistakes and delays that can arise from non-compliance.

How Using An Architect Works

house extension process


RIBA Plan of Work

When undertaking a house extension project, architects will usually base their process on the RIBA plan of work. This is a set of guidelines that architects use to manage a building project from start to finish. There are typically seven stages, which include:

  • Stage 1 – Design Brief:
    This stage involves defining the project’s goals, objectives, and budget and developing a brief that outlines the project’s requirements.
  • Stage 2 – Concept Design:
    This stage involves developing a concept design that outlines the overall vision for the project.
  • Stage 3 – Planning Design:
    This stage involves developing the design further and creating detailed drawings and plans suitable for Planning Permission.
  • Stage 4 – Technical Design:
    This stage involves developing technical details, such as electrical and plumbing plans, and ensuring that the design complies with Building Regulations.
  • Stage 5 – Construction:
    This stage involves overseeing the construction process, making inspections of the work on site, certifying payments due to the contractor, and ensuring that the project is completed according to the plans and specifications.


Why Follow the RIBA Work Stages?

Following the RIBA work stages is important for several reasons.

Firstly, it ensures that the project is completed efficiently and to a high standard. Each stage of the RIBA plan of work has a specific focus and set of deliverables, which helps to keep the project on track and moving forward. For example, during the Concept Design stage (Stage 2), the architect will develop and refine the design ideas for the project, taking into account your requirements and the constraints of the site. This stage is crucial for ensuring that the design is feasible and practical before moving on to the next stage.

Secondly, following the RIBA work stages helps to ensure that the project stays within budget. The architect will work with you to establish a budget for the project during the Preparation and Brief stage (Stage 1). This budget will be reviewed and updated at each subsequent stage of the project to ensure that it remains realistic and achievable. Additionally, the architect will work with the contractor during the Construction stage (Stage 5) to ensure that the project is completed within the agreed budget.

Thirdly, following the RIBA work stages helps to identify and address any potential issues early on in the project. For example, during the Technical Design stage (Stage 4), the architect will develop detailed construction drawings and specifications for the project. This stage is important for ensuring that any potential issues or conflicts are identified and resolved before construction begins. Similarly, during the Construction stage (Stage 5), the architect will oversee the construction process and ensure that any issues or problems are addressed promptly to avoid delays or cost overruns.


In conclusion, following the RIBA work stages is essential for any domestic building project. Working with an architect who follows the RIBA plan of work can help ensure that your project is completed efficiently, to a high standard, and within budget. The RIBA work stages provide a clear roadmap for the project, which helps to ensure that everyone involved is on the same page and working towards the same goals. By following the RIBA plan of work, potential issues can be identified and addressed early on, which helps to avoid delays and cost overruns. If you’re considering a building project, be sure to work with an architect who follows the RIBA plan of work for the best possible results.

More Guidance

all posts

We have written a number of posts which provide information and guidanceto anyone considering a project. These include advice on design and planning of new homes, renovations and extensions.



If you have a project you would like to discuss with us then just drop us a line using this form and we will get back to you. Or call us in our London studio on 020 3920 9805.

We will be happy to help and we look forward to hearing from you.



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