Architecture Professionals: Who Does What?

Architecture Professionals: Understanding who does what and who should I hire?

Two men reviewing some house plans.

Planning a renovation or refurbishment of your property can be hugely exciting, but there’s lots to do and often many people to employ for help and support along the way. Design professionals of many types will be vying for your business, but exactly who and what do you need? Here we explain the differences between various architecture professionals; including architects, architectural designers and architectural technologists. This no-nonsense guide gives you the lowdown on all and will help you identify exactly what’s needed for your renovation project.
Some architects reviewing some house plans.

What is an Architect?

In the UK, an Architect is a professional who has completed a full 7 years of specific training; both through university study and in professional practice. The job title ‘Architect’ is protected by law in this country, so anyone claiming to be one must be legally currently registered with the ARB (Architects Registration Board). Although not a specific requirement, many Architects are also Chartered Members of RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects).
The training that Architects undergo covers building projects right through from design and planning to construction in a complete end-to-end process. This means that Architects are, despite many misconceptions, not just property designers, but will be able to offer help and support throughout the entirety of the project.
Architects are usually very creative people and are able to work on both blank canvas projects for extreme design or existing buildings for tweaks and changes. They are, however, expensive to hire as their skill set is very particular and their training and expertise extensive and more comprehensive than many in the building industry.

What is an Architectural Designer?

An Architectural Designer is not a formal job title, but rather a term used informally to cover all of those within the architecture industry in a residential capacity. It is, therefore, often used to describe Architects, Architectural Technologists and others involved in the design and planning process for properties even if they are not specifically qualified.
If an individual claims to be an Architectural Designer there may be no legal registration or record of them on any recognised industry body. This does not necessarily mean that they are unable to do the job – and indeed they’re likely to cost considerably less than those with formal qualifications – but their background and previous projects should be heavily researched into before they are hired.
A building being constructed to the rear of a house.

What is an Architectural Technologist?

An Architectural Technologist works to bridge the gap between the creative design of a building and its actual construction. Their focus is on the science and engineering behind architecture, the design and the construction process – using the latest in industry technology to ensure the project can be safely planned and erected.
Architectural Technologists must be members of CIAT (the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists) and will be registered currently as such.
If a clear design brief is in place, an Architectural Technologist will be able to plan and complete a full project.

So, should I hire an Architect or an Architectural Technologist?

Whether you hire an Architecture or Architectural Technologist really depends on the foundations behind the project; in a figurative, and not literal sense.
If the renovation project is open to design ideas and needs some blue sky thinking around what is possible and practical from a professional, an Architect can be hired to work through the design and plan out the project. If the renovation project is already fairly set with a clear idea behind it, and doesn’t have a particularly difficult brief, an Architectural Technologist will be able to plan and enact the project.
Many architecture firms will employ both Architects and Architectural Technologists, and be able to advise which will work best for a renovation project. Whilst the former are more expensive to hire throughout, it is not uncommon for property owners to request that an Architect works through the initial design plans and then hands the project over to an Architectural Technologist.
A large black and white themed living area with a view to the rear garden.

What other Architecture Professionals may be involved in a property renovation project?

Architects and Architectural Technologists aren’t the only professionals that may be involved in a property renovation project.
Architectural Technicians work closely with both of the above and provide technical information on the plans to assist with the practicalities of its enactment. What’s more, they are often involved in preparing and submitting applications to the various regulatory bodies required by property renovation project owners and leaders – so for more complex projects involving planning or other permissions, it is likely one will need to be included for administration purposes.
Interior designers can be hired if desired on the internal design and décor of the property. Whilst not a legal requirement, interior designers should be members of the BIID (British Institute of Interior Design) in order to ensure that their qualifications are up-to-date and that they have sufficient insurance.
A large modern white kitchen area
Structural Engineers are responsible for calculating the structural data required by building regulations, relevant permission granting authorities and builders. If any structural changes are being carried out, a Structural Engineer will need to be hired for building regulation approval to be granted. Architects and Architectural Technologists work with Structural Engineers, but for small or especially easy renovation projects, property owners may choose to work with Structural Engineers directly to save costs.
Surveyors assess the overall condition of buildings and are able to advise on any potential issues. It is usually recommended that a Surveyor is hired from the outset of the project in order to identify and advise on any issues as early as possible.
Standalone Project Managers can be hired if desired to carry out the full project management role without the need for the property owner to have to do it themselves. For large or extensive renovation projects, the project management role will need to be carried out full time and so often a trained professional will be hired to carry this out.
There are no laws or legal requirements on who must be worked with through renovation projects, but unless property owners have their own proven history of working with such property projects, it is always advisable to hire professionals. There are many about and they are all easily verified – so do your research and work with who feels best to you!
A couple reviewing some plans with a Refresh renovation specialist
If you would like to find out how Refresh Renovations can support your quality home renovation with a team of highly skilled industry professionals, get in touch today. We know how important it is for customers to feel comfortable with a renovation company; not only so that you can freely express your ideas - but also because you are trusting them with your home. We want you to have a fantastic renovation experience, that’s why we have created an end to end, hassle free process.

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