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Many clients we meet have varied concerns about both progressing with a project and appointing an architect to help them. From this experience we have compiled guidance to help you understand some of the key issues and how we can help you. Links to the sections are below;



Do I need an architect?

There is no legal requirement for you to use an architect however in the vast majority of cases an architect is best placed to help you navigate the various legislatory requirements and stages of completing your project on time and on budget. There are some building projects that are completed without an architect, however these are often projects where the extent of the work is very small or there is a specialist firm, like a window supplier, who can supply the necessary drawings for you.


A key role of the architect is helping you to translate your ideas into reality, suggesting improvements or revisions to your project that mean you get the home or property you’ve been dreaming of. However the architect’s role is much wider than this and appointing an architect to support you with your project can help you ensure your project runs more smoothly, costs less in both time and money and avoids the pitfalls that can be inherent in building works.


Not only does an architect supply all the necessary technical drawings, they will guide you through the design and build process coordinating all the various elements that comprise your project. They provide technical expertise with a wide range of issues from Planning and funding to issues such as how windows connect to walls and how heating systems are integrated. Your architect should also have a resource of technical literature, contacts, and products that you are able to access through them. This resource, as well as the overarching coordination, ensures a building that will cost considerably less than you would be able to achieve without an architect. In many cases the cost saving achieved through employing an architect is many times more than the total architect’s fee.


You can be confident of the service you will receive from an architect as certified architects, such as LH architecture, are also covered by a code of conduct, required to carry appropriate insurance for their work and are qualified to carry out this work in a competent manner.


At LH architecture we provide the full suite of architectural services for our clients to ensure the best possible outcome for their projects. We have an extensive resource of contacts, technical information and technology to advise, coordinate and successfully manage your whole project from start to finish.

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Glasgow architect

What will it cost to build?

How much a project will cost to build is dependent on a great many factors and as such is a very difficult question to answer without a detailed understanding of your project and your requirements.


Due to uncertainty of the detail at the early stages of building design it is often useful to use a standard building cost per square metre, based on current market observations, which can then be multiplied by the area of the building you wish to build. This figure can vary from £700m2 to over £2000m2, depending on location, complexity, materials and size of the building.


To illustrate this, small extensions can often be relatively costly as there is no economy of scale. In essence they contain all of the elements of a new build house (walls, roof, windows etc.) but without the ability to buy in bulk or reduce costs through repetition of materials. Conversely, larger projects can achieve lower rates simply because of their scale.


Many other factors can also affect the build rates such as whether the building is new build or works to existing buildings and the overall complexity of the building. For example a highly serviced hospital requires much more work per square metre than a new house, so again the rates for these buildings would be distinctly different. 


If you are unsure of the size of project you want to build, however are clear on your budget, we can calculate the best solution for you which either meets your budget and gives you a likely size of building, or calculates the budget based on a set building size. To discuss this and understand in detail the likely cost of your build, please contact the office for a no commitment discussion about your project and we should be able to advise you over the phone about the likely rate based on your specific circumstances.


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helensburgh architect

How can an architect help me?

As described in the 'do I need an architect' section above, your architect should be able to bring a range of skills, experience and technical knowledge that should ensure your project is a success. Your architect should work with you to help you establish exactly what you need and what the most efficient way to achieve this is for you. Often your architect will be able to suggest alternative strategies to achieve the same outcomes with fewer drawbacks or that avoid common pitfalls. From the early stages your architect will also be able to advise you how to negotiate the Planning maze and ensure that you do not progress with a building that is likely to contravene Planning or Building Control regulations.


Your architect will also coordinate all aspects of your project, liaise with all the relevant agencies and service providers and provide a range of technical advice and drawings that ensures your project runs smoothly and costs considerably less than would be achieved without an architect.


Once your project reaches the construction stage an architect will monitor and advise on progress and cost issues, administer the contract between you and your builder and oversee the valuations of work and payments between you and your builder.


For information on how LH architecture can help you and the services we offer please see our services page.

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Glasgow architect


Many people today are becoming more and more concerned about their rising energy costs and the impact they and their property has on the environment. Sustainability is the term used to describe how buildings and building works can be designed and constructed to ensure that their usage has a minimal impact on the environment and/or the overall running costs of the building are reduced.


There are many ways that energy efficiency can be improved in both new and existing buildings. These range from ‘passive’ design techniques such as exploiting natural sunlight and utilising high performance building materials, to the use of alternative technologies such as ground and air source heat pumps, reed bed filtration systems and hydro electric power systems.


When considering the sustainability of your project a number of factors are important and the information available is often confusing or contradictory. One of the key factors for you to consider is cost. Passive design techniques can often be employed at no additional cost but the use of new technologies can often be quite high and the returns, in terms of overall cost savings, quite low. You therefore need to weigh up the costs of the initial investment compared with any likely savings over the life of the building.


LH architecture has a particular specialism in sustainable design and we are able to offer you clear advice and guidance to find the best solution for you. If you would like some more information on how we might be able to reduce your energy demand on your new or existing building, please contact the office to discuss your ideas and we can help you to the right applications for you situation.

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argyll architect

Finding a site

There are many websites available nowadays where people advertise sites for sale, both with and without Planning Permission. If you can though its often better to try to contact the site owner before the site reaches this type of public advertising as you may be able to get it much cheaper. You can find out who owns a site from the land registry and getting at contact at this stage may mean you get your dream site for a steal!


Other sources for sites include Local Authority websites where plots of land are often sold from Council stocks and are often not advertised elsewhere. 


As architects we’re often contacted see if we know of good sites for sale. We do visit many sites which are for sale and in some situations have already investigated sites which have been on the market for some time. It often pays to be wary of sites that have not been sold in a long time as they often have longstanding issues that require a buyer with a particularly positive approach to overcoming hurdles!


There are many important things to consider when trying to find your dream site such as location, size, ease of access etc. We can advise you on a range of site issues and we can provide you with outline advice on the feasibility of your project before you purchase a site. We offer this consultation for free and highly recommend you contact us before you commit to purchasing a site to prevent you from making a costly error and ending up with a site that will never allow you to develop your project.

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paisley architect

New build

New build projects often present particular issues to address especially in relation to Planning Permissions. Any new build proposal must strictly meet the rules for development as set by the Scottish Government and enforced by the local Planning Authority. These rules can be affected by location, site history and local issues.


From our experience, often issues with obtaining Planning Permission are often exacerbated by buildings being proposed on sites with no history of building on them. Whilst this does not mean that you will never be able to build on such sites, it often makes the process much more difficult and creates more problems to overcome. As a rule of thumb, if you are looking to build a project within a greenbelt area, we recommend that you try to find a site with a pre-existing building as the Planning Permission process will generally be much smoother.


All sites are affected by legislation differently and different local Planning Authorities have different criteria and priorities. If you are unsure of what policies affect your site and/or how they may affect the development of your new build project please contact us and we will be delighted to discuss this with you.

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Refurbishment work provides a different challenge to new build work as it is contained within the existing fabric of a building. Generally, refurbishment work costs less per square metre than new build as the external fabric of the building remains. However working within the confines of an existing building can affect the efficiency of construction work and hence the building costs. Further, refurbishments often require considerably more work in the initial stages to establish the exact nature of the existing building before strategies can be proposed to refurbish or improve it.


Appointing an architect to help with your refurbishment will ensure the proposed works are clearly documented and organised and hence help eliminate increased cost through allowing better programming of the build process in advance of work commencing.


We have extensive experience of refurbishment works on listed and non listed buildings, so please contact the office to discuss your refurbishment project and how we can help.

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house plans

Architect's fees

Architect’s fees are generally charged as a percentage of your build cost and payable monthly over the duration of the design and build process. Percentage fees are favoured as the larger the budget, the larger the project and hence the more architectural work is actually required to coordinate, organise and draw the project. Generally architect’s fees will range from 5% to 12% depending on a variety of factors. As each project is very different fees are normally calculated for each project individually to ensure the project is suitably resourced.


To help our customers understand our fees, we offer a free quote via our website and also offer a free site meeting and consultation to discuss your project. This is a no commitment offer to all potential customers and will provide you with a detailed quote outlining all the services we feel you need to successfully execute your project. Please see our online quote section for more details.

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bute architect


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