How to find the right architect for your project

Are you looking for an architect for your home improvement project? Many of our clients are planning extensions or developments need an architect to help. Not sure where to start with your search? Recently rebranded HEM Architects (previously Paul Testa Architecture) share their top tips below for finding the right architecture practice for your project.

We first worked with the Practice when we designed the Mid Century Modern kitchen alongside other furniture and fittings in our clients’ new home. Their team transformed the small and dated bungalow into a fabulous sustainable and future-proofed home. The Practice is well-known for its commitment to sustainability and its people-centred approach, both of which lie close to our heart too.

Now over to the experts:


kitchen extension with bi-fold doors
Image credit: Dug Wilders

Finding the right architect

There’s a lot to consider when searching for an architect and it’s one of many decisions you’ll have to make when you embark on a project. Finding an architect that is the ‘best fit’ for you is crucial to the success of your project.

The right architect will make the entire process easier. It’s their job to guide you through the journey, explain the unknowns and bring your dream home to life.

How do they communicate?

It sounds obvious, but we can’t stress enough how important communication is from the get-go. What questions does the architect ask you during the first phone call? Do they seem genuinely excited by your project? Asking the right questions is important, but do they also challenge your thinking to get the best outcome?

At Paul Testa Architecture, we hope that clients want more than ‘just a set of drawings’ from us – this is after all one of the most important things (and expensive!) things you can do. Creating your dream home is more than just a set of drawings, and your architect should demonstrate that.

Poor communication can cause costly delays during your project, so when choosing an architect make sure you’re having honest conversations and there’s mutual respect.

architecture team
Image credit: Helena Dolby

Are they qualified?

Look out for a qualified architect registered with the Architects Registration Board and the Royal Institute of British Architects. This means they are fully qualified to deliver the service you need. A RIBA chartered practice must also prove they have suitable management systems in place, and follow the Code of Practice (a set of standards), all of which can give you peace of mind.

Working with a registered architect also guarantees they have Professional Indemnity Insurance if anything goes wrong. This also gives you, the client, protection if you’re unhappy with their service.

Can you see your home in their work?

Look for a practice with the relevant project experience you’re looking for, whether that’s on their website or a house you’ve driven past. Take time to look through their portfolio and make sure you like what you see before making contact. Whilst you’re on their website, don’t forget to check out their reviews.

Over 60% of our work is from referrals, so be sure to ask your friends and family for recommendations. Even better if you’ve seen the architect’s work in person.

new build home architecture on a sunny day
Image credit: Dug Wilders

Do they have cost-management processes?

This leads to a really important part of your project planning: budget! Undertaking a project, whether that’s a new build or a renovation, is a significant investment. Your budget is a key part of your brief and managed carefully by your architect. When discussing your budget it’s important to look at the entire budget including professional fees, VAT and construction costs.

Our motto is “we treat your budget as if it’s our own”. This means being upfront about costs and what our fees will be, and taking great care with our client’s budget. Ultimately, your chosen architect should base the design and materials that give the best performance, aesthetic and durability for your budget.

architect team
Image credit: Helena Dolby

Would you have a drink with them?

This might sound like a funny consideration, but be ready to spend a lot of time with your chosen architect. They’re going to learn a lot about you and your lifestyle. We’re not saying you have to be best friends, but you will be spending your precious time with them, during one of the most important chapters of your life. It’s important to both you and your architect to make the process an enjoyable one.


Have these tips got you thinking? We hope that you are now a little further along on your journey to find the right architect. Never be afraid to ask questions to find out more. We’re not ones for cliches, but it is true that if you don’t ask, you don’t find out. 

For more advice, tips and guidance, visit our Advice Centre.

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