Choosing an architect: communication is key to a successful home redesign if you want to stay on track — and budget

Question: I read something about the problem a couple had with their architect over the fitting of a home cinema/TV screen.

We are about to employ an architect to redesign our sitting room, kitchen and hall.

We have never used one, nor had any major works like this done before.

How can we try to avoid getting into the sort of difficulties the home cinema couple experienced?

Answer: Your architect is not a mind reader and neither are you. It is essential to communicate clearly with each other and that matters are properly recorded in writing.

Explain your thoughts, plans and what you wish to achieve. Your architect will undoubtedly have wonderful ideas and suggestions.

To ensure the project is kept within budget and meets your expectations, make sure you receive a written brief setting out clearly the scope of work to be carried out.

This brief should include plans, drawings and a written description of the design.

You should also have a written contract, agreement or letter of engagement covering the architect’s appointment, fees and responsibilities.

During the work it is likely that you will want changes to the original written brief, or your architect may suggest changes.

These should be noted in writing and signed by you both to show they’re agreed.

It would be wise to keep notes of all calls and meetings to avoid future confusion.

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. Questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a solicitor specialising in residential property.

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