Unlocking Architectural Excellence: Your Guide to Choosing the Right Architect in Manchester

Here at Muse Architects, we understand that a home is more than just a structure; it’s a place where your life unfolds. Whether you’re envisioning a room transformation or planning a comprehensive remodel, we believe that an architect can be an invaluable partner to help you achieve your home goals. Let us guide you through the process of hiring and working with an architect to make your dreams a reality.

Understanding the Need for an Architect

Life is ever-changing, and your home should adapt to meet your evolving needs. Perhaps your family is growing, and you need extra space, or your home business has outgrown your kitchen table. It could be that you want to accommodate an elderly relative who faces mobility challenges. Whatever the reason, our lives change, but our homes remain static. To ensure your home keeps pace with your life, you’ll likely consider remodelling.

Home remodelling, whether it involves adding a new bathroom, expanding your kitchen, or embarking on a substantial house extension, often entails financial investment, meticulous planning, and sometimes, a fair share of stress. It can raise numerous questions beyond design choices, such as whether or not you should hire an architect.

In a world where DIY projects are celebrated, hiring an architect might be seen as a luxury, and it may seem costly. It’s true that for some smaller projects, you can complete a remodel without architectural help, provided you have a strong design sense, a clear vision, or access to individuals who can create plans that meet local building regulations. However, the question you should ask yourself is: “Do I want to go it alone?”

Levels of Architectural Design Service

Architects are distinct from other designers in that they are licensed professionals in the states they practice. To earn a licence, an architect must complete a rigorous educational programme, gain experience through internships, and pass a comprehensive exam. This ensures that architects possess a high level of expertise in design, materials, and building systems.

There are architectural designers, sometimes referred to simply as designers, who have studied and practiced architectural design but are not licensed. They may work independently or in collaboration with licensed architects.

Additionally, many builders offer home design services, and some have dedicated, in-house designers. Design-build firms provide both architectural design and construction services under one roof, with some firms led by architects and others having architects on staff.

Draftspersons are responsible for translating plans onto paper. They create the drawings needed for construction, typically after the design is finalised. Drafters often work closely with licensed architects or builders.

While any of these professionals can potentially assist you in designing your remodel, homeowners, especially those planning smaller projects, may underestimate the challenges of adapting an existing home to meet new expectations. Architects are trained to identify possibilities in every structure and are experts at translating these possibilities into detailed plans that builders can execute with precision.

When to Consider Hiring an Architect

Here are scenarios in which you should consider hiring an architect:

  1. You Have a Design Dilemma: When you have a problem with your home and no idea how to solve it, a good architect can help you explore creative solutions that align with your budget and lifestyle.
  2. Optimising Existing Space: If you feel cramped and want to make better use of your existing space without adding an extension, an architect can reconfigure underutilised areas to meet your needs.
  3. Guidance Through Complex Decisions: Major remodelling requires numerous decisions on unfamiliar topics. An architect serves as an intermediary, offering advice to steer your project toward the best outcomes.
  4. Local Building Regulations: In some areas, an architect’s or engineer’s sign-off is mandatory for certain remodelling projects. Always check with your local building department.
  5. Unique or Challenging Projects: Projects that demand unique designs, historic preservation, style changes, or complex locations are best handled by architects.
  6. Budget Concerns: While hiring an architect adds an additional cost, they can save you money through value engineering and helping you avoid costly mistakes in materials or design.
How to Find the Right Architect – Unlocking Architectural Excellence

Once you’ve decided to hire an architect, finding the right one is crucial. It’s not just about their design expertise; it’s also about communication and cost. To find the right architect for your project, follow these steps:

  1. Explore Their Work: Home design magazines and websites showcase architects’ work and often provide insight into their approach to projects. Websites like HomeAdvisor.com and houzz.com allow you to search for architects by location.
  2. RIBA Client Services: Contact your local chapter of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) for architect recommendations. Many state chapters list members on their websites.
  3. Visit Their Website: Explore the portfolios of potential architects and learn about their design philosophy, approach, and experience.
  4. Word of Mouth: Recommendations from friends are valuable, but keep in mind that the right architect for one project may not be suitable for yours.
The Interview: What to Expect

When you’re ready to hire an architect, start the interview process:

  1. Prepare for Your Meeting: Compile inspirational photographs, existing home plans, and any ideas you have for your project to discuss during the interview.
  2. Questions for the Architect: Ask questions to understand the architect’s design philosophy, process, and previous projects. Inquire about the architect’s experience with projects similar to yours and request references.
  3. Review Presentation Methods: Find out how the architect presents their plans and designs. Determine if you are comfortable with their methods.
  4. Clarify Responsibilities: Clearly define your roles and responsibilities in the design process. Establish the architect’s fee structure and understand how and when payments will be made.
Architectural Fees

Architects’ fees vary widely, depending on the project, the local economy, and the architect’s experience and reputation. Fees typically range from £1,800 to £8,375, depending on the complexity and size of the project with an average of £2,450 for mid-size projects. However, fees can be much higher, depending on the size and complexity of the job. Your best gauge is to speak to several architects in your area about the cost of designing your specific project. As with any professional service, the cheapest quote is not necessarily the best one.

  1. Hourly Fees: Some architects charge a fixed rate by the hour. The typical range is £60 to £125, with fees in some parts of the country, particularly urban areas, being higher. If it’s a small project and you have a clear vision, this may be the best approach. You might want to establish a cap on the number of hours.
  2. Percentage of Construction Cost: Another method is to charge a percentage of the project’s cost, typically between 5% and 15% for new construction and 15% to 20% for remodels.
  3. Square-Foot Billing: Some architects charge by the square foot, though this rate varies considerably. For small projects, such as kitchen reconfigurations, the square-foot cost must justify the architect’s time.
  4. Combination Fees and Fixed Fees: Some architects combine methods, charging hourly until plans are established, and then switching to square-foot billing. Others provide a fixed fee for the entire project, clearly defining what’s included.
Signing the Contract

When you decide to hire an architect, you’ll need to sign a contract. The contract outlines the scope of work, services provided, the project schedule, payment structure, and other critical details. Make sure to discuss ownership , responsibilities, and possible design revisions. It will specify who owns the plans, usually the architect, and any modifications if the project doesn’t proceed as planned.

What to Expect After Signing with an Architect

The journey continues after signing with an architect. Here’s a glimpse of what you can anticipate:

  1. Preliminary Design Phase: This begins with an initial consultation to determine your project’s requirements, followed by a site visit. The architect will develop a written program and sketch initial designs to confirm the general size and layout.
  2. Design Development: With your approval, the architect adds more details to the design, consulting with you on materials, trim, and other features. Computer modelling may be used to visualise the project better.
  3. Documentation: The architect’s office will produce detailed blueprints that can be submitted to building officials and contractors for project estimates.
  4. Securing a Contractor: With comprehensive plans, the architect can assist you in finding a contractor, who will work with you to bring the project to life. It’s your choice, and the architect can provide recommendations based on past collaborations.
  5. Construction Administration: The architect remains involved as the project progresses. They answer questions, resolve design issues, provide additional drawings if required, and approve payments to the contractor. Their role is to ensure that everything goes according to plan and to address any issues that may arise.

Helping Your Architect Help You – Saving Money and Ensuring Success

Engaging with your architect is essential for a successful project:

  • Be available to review drawings and material suggestions promptly.
  • Make decisions promptly and communicate any concerns you may have.
  • Ask questions when you need clarification.
  • Don’t hesitate to voice any aspects of the design you’re uncomfortable with.

The more you participate in the process, the better the results. Successful projects require teamwork, and finding the right architect for your needs is an investment in your property’s future and your overall satisfaction.


At Muse Architects, we are committed to making your dream home a reality. Based in Manchester, we have earned our reputation as a leading architectural firm dedicated to creating exceptional residential spaces. Our team of talented architects brings an extensive portfolio of projects to the table, demonstrating a profound understanding of house architecture and a passion for innovative design. With our unique blend of expertise and experience, we are well-equipped to cater to your architectural needs, ensuring the successful realisation of your project.

When you choose Muse Architects in Manchester, you opt for a partner who not only excels in design but also excels in communication, ensuring your vision is understood and translated into the finest architectural solutions. Our commitment to outstanding service, combined with a cost model that is adaptable to your specific requirements, makes us the best choice for clients seeking architectural excellence in Manchester. Let Muse Architects be your trusted partner in building your dream home. Contact us today to take the first step towards turning your architectural dreams into reality.

About Muse

We are your Residential and Commercial Architects:

At Muse Architects, we offer a wide range of local architectural services to clients in Manchester and beyond. From building control in Manchester to office design project management, our team of experienced architects has the skills and expertise to handle any project. Whether you’re looking for commercial building architects or residential architects near you, we’re here to help. As a local architect near you, we understand the unique challenges and opportunities of designing buildings in Manchester. We specialize in Manchester residential architect services and work closely with clients to create beautiful, functional spaces. Our 3D property visualisation services, including 3D visualisation for city planning and interior design, are designed to help you bring your vision to life. Contact us today to learn more about how Muse Architects can help you achieve your architectural goals.