Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee

What are the Biggest Problems when Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee?

This is probably a question that most architectural firms will simply not want to discuss, however, the customer and the architect do occasionally fall out…..That’s life sometimes!

This might be a more than a little inconvenient, especially if you are at a critical stage of your project.

What can you do and what might you consider even long before you have appointed an Architect or an Architectural designer?

Below are some points we will discuss in this article:

  • The chemistry between you, the customer & your Architect
  • Trust & Communication
  • Expectations
  • Service levels

Here are our 4 Top Tips for Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee

Get these right and you are well on your way to a great project.

1. Chemistry

Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee

At John Webster Architecture we consider this to be the single biggest thing that is likely to cause problems between you and the architectural firm, the chemistry between you and your chosen architect or designer has to be right.

if there is a good rapport between you right at the beginning, it is less likely that as the project progresses that molehills will become mountains:)

A good relationship is critical for the project to be a success as you will be working together for quite some time.

You are getting ready to spend a lot of money and chances are you will only do it once so it’s really important that the entire process goes as smoothly as possible (nothing ever goes perfectly) and more importantly that you get excited about it and really enjoy it.

Use your better judgment to make the call, you might ask yourself.

  • Are they listening to me?
  • Are they down to Earth?

Having said that as a customer it is important that you listen to your Architect or designer as they will no doubt have a viewpoint or ideas that maybe challenge yours, its good to have an open mind after all you have hired a professional to get you a great result, not a mediocre one!

It’s fair to say that every architectural firm will not be a good fit for you and you might not be a good fit for them.

At John Webster Architecture our main focus is on getting you great results, we want you to enjoy every minute of your project….after all, it’s your hard earned money that you are spending..right!

We realize that we might not be a good fit for everyone, so if getting the lowest price is your single biggest priority because we are so focused on customer service we won’t be the cheapest and will probably not a good fit for you.

But, if you want a great experience and want to work with great builders and don’t mind paying a little more then the chances are that we will be a great fit for you.

2. Trust & communication

Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee

Trust & communication go hand in hand, good communication builds trust.

What do we mean?

Well, early in the project if you find that your emails or phone calls are not being returned, drawings not coming when they were meant to, this could be a red flag, if you feel this is the case its worth having an open and honest chat at this point to make sure this theme doesn’t continue.

Its true that communication is a two-way street, so you as a client also have the responsibility to answer the architect’s questions in a timely manner.

A good architectural firm will, in the very beginning discuss in detail with you the procedure that they have in place for communication, normally email.

It’s definitely worth considering when you are looking to appoint an architectural designer the type and size of a design firm.

It might not be the right choice to choose a firm that specializes in designing large corporate building to appoint them to design your kitchen extension!

Similarly, unless you are hiring a sole practitioner then the chances are that the person you speak with initially and make the agreement with won’t be the person designing your building project.

Ask who will be designing your project and who your point of contact will be throughout.

If you don’t fully trust your architect or communication is poor then this is for sure a potential problem.

3. Expectation Levels when Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee

Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee

Your expectation level is very important to avoid problems with your architectural professional, what do you expect from your Architect? This might be a difficult question to answer, especially if you have never carried out a building project before.

It is the Architects or Designers responsibility and duty to explain at the very beginning of the process what services they offer and to be very clear about this.

This might typically be what happens:

The client thinks the Architect

  • ‘does the drawings’


What the architect actually offers

  • Site survey
  • Various design options
  • Prepare planning application
  • Ensure compliance with building standards
  • Liaise with other design professionals
  • Prepare construction & tender documents
  • Assist choosing a contractor
  • Site supervision throughout the project
  • Completion certificate


The architect may need to explain the value of what he actually offers to the client and not just assume that they will know.

If you simply want a plan drawer or draftsperson then the architectural firm might offer a ‘stripped down’ service or they may refer you to someone else.

It is therefore essential to manage expectation levels very early in the project so that there is no ambiguity regarding what you will get and what you won’t, this will help avoid misunderstanding which can lead to problems


4. Service Levels

Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee

The service levels that an architectural practice offers is closely related to expectation levels

What type of service that you need will depend on the type of project and your experience as a client, if it is a very small job then you will probably not require site supervision, if you are a very experienced homeowner having built extensions or carried out loft conversions multiple times then you may require a service level that will take you up to building warrant and be able to handle the tender and site supervision yourself, however, this is a time-consuming job which you may not simply have the time to do!

There are 6 stages of a project (regardless of scope or budget)

Here they are

  1. Feasibility study (most important)
  2. Design & planning application
  3. Building Warrant
  4. Pre-construction
  5. Construction
  6. Snagging

Here are no hard and fast rules as to what service level that your architect can offer.

Generally, you will be offered 2 options,

  • Option 1 – stages 1-3
  • Option 2 – stages 1-6

Option 2 may seem like a lot of money, however, the reality is that having an architect on board during the construction stage(when you most need them) is likely to pay dividends in terms of saving you money and emotional stress (you cant put a price on this).

Click here for further reading on this.

Thrashing out the details and being very clear as to what level of service you have opted for can save problems developing later.

So, Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee

so, in summary, when Choosing an Architect or Designer in Dundee, the big takeaway is to go with your ‘gut’ feeling when choosing an architectural firm, if you don’t like them from the get go there is little chance things will go smoothly.

So, now you know the main causes of problems when hiring an architectural firm, I would love to hear any questions that you have about this, happy to help.

Contact me @

if you would like to discuss your project book a call with me here

Or Get your free project planning pack.

Here are the areas that we operate in

  • City of Edinburgh
  • East Lothian
  • Midlothian
  • Central Belt
  • West Lothian
  • Perth & Kinross
  • Fife
  • Dundee City
  • Angus

You may be interested in the following articles.

How Much Does It Cost to Build an Extension?

What Is the Difference Between Planning Permission & Building Regulations?

What is a Building warrant, how long does it take to get one & how much does it cost?

* John Webster Architecture are not Architects, we are proud to be a firm of Architectural Technologists, educated to degree standard and specializes in residential construction.

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