What information does my architect need to start on the design?

Q: I am starting a search for an architect to build a replacement farm house and I am putting together a specification of what I’d like in the house my question is how much detail do I need in the specification? Do I need to include photos of other houses I have seen? Do I need photos of kitchens/living areas?

A: Learning from the experience of other self-builders, it’s especially useful to do as much homework as you possibly can before speaking with your architectural designer — the aim is to give them as much information as possible about what you like, want and need, so a scrapbook is indeed a very good starting point. In terms of a specification, they can help you with exact detailing, that’s part of their job, but if you have any inclinations/desires it would be helpful to share these at an early stage. As you’ll see from the case studies profiled on the website, the early preparation/planning stage is the most important to get right so all of these efforts should be time well spent. There’s a guide from the RIAI about how to prepare your first meeting – these are very general but it’s a good starting point. We have an article on our website also outlining what to look out for when hiring an architectural consultant – architects, building surveyors, architectural technologists, and engineers can all carry out this role.

— Selfbuild editorial staff

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of SelfBuild & Improve Your Home magazine. She previously held the same role in an Irish trade publication, before that she worked at the National Standards Authority of Ireland. She graduated with a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University in New York and holds an MBA from the Instituto de Estudios Bursatiles in Madrid. France of origin, she now lives in Portarlington, County Laois, where she's taken on the task of renovating a listed building! Email astrid.madsen@selfbuild.ie

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