Taking the First Step on your Project - The Fear of the Unknown

30 October 2023 by Darren Leach

Kitchen diner London townhouse George James Architects

Why starting a project can be intimidating. 

Perhaps you are thinking about starting a new project to renovate your home, update your interiors, or to build a brand-new home – or other type of building, but you just don’t know where to start. In this article we hope to give you the confidence to take the first step in what can be a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding journey.

So where are you right now?

  • You might have looked at some Architects and other ‘designers’ websites, but find all of the information quite intimidating.
  • You might have a vast collection of images on Pinterest or Instagram, but don’t know if you can afford similar?
  • Perhaps you are worried about how much it might cost, who will take care of your funds? Is the investment in an Architects service worth it?
  • You have seen an advert for cheap building plans online – will this give you what you need, and is it really the best option?

Investing in your property can be a scary process, especially if you have not done something like this before. There’s lots of jargon to contend with and - planning and listed building regulations, building regulations, health and safety regulations, ecological requirements, finding a reliable builder, all sorts of companies offering to help, you may have watched countless tv programmes, all of which highlight what can go wrong. And the biggest challenge of all is finding the time and focus required to make all of the important decisions that need to be made.

What you need is a trusted advisor to support you and help you to make all of the important decisions at the right time. Someone who can help you navigate all of the process to take away the stress of the unknown. What you need (in our opinion of course!) is an Architect!

Process George James Architects

So, why should you hire an architect when you could just buy some quick and cheap plans online?

Your building project could be one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. It’s important to get it right and know you’re in good hands. Of course, you could get a builder or online company to draw up some simple plans and set to work, but you will most likely be buying some generic lines on a piece of paper, without the trusted adviser at the end of the phone to support you and guide you through the whole process from start to finish.

If you really want to create something that fulfils everything you could wish for and more, then you’ll want to work with an architect. 

Architects train hard and know their business. As a profession, we’re creative as well as technically minded, and we’re as invested in the process as in the outcome. We see ourselves as problem-solvers, and we’re experts at transforming ideas into tangible buildings.

When you hire an architect, you know where you stand. All architects in the UK have to be insured and registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB)

At George & James we’re also an RIBA Chartered practice, which means we follow the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Code of Practice and are fully paid-up members of the RIBA.

Getting the right advice can be the difference between enjoying the process and having the most stressful of experiences. At George and James Architects, we support our clients from the very first phone call, to when the keys to your completed project are handed over. We guide our clients through every stage, we navigate all of the permissions required, the planning process, building regulations, health and safety regulations and we work with you to make sure the costs stay on track. 

Wellfield exterior

So, what is the first step? - How should I choose my Architect?

It’s not just about finding someone who has a good track record on similar projects, but of course it’s always useful to see what they’ve done. Our past projects are here.

It’s more about finding someone who shares your aspirations and your values. If you want to get a good sense of what’s important to us at George & James, have a look at Our Mission and our Core Values.

Once you’re confident that you’re a good fit on paper, it’s time to start a conversation. Think about whether you want to work with them. Do they listen? Do they ask questions? Do they take your worries on board and give you the reassurance you’re looking for? Do they explain how they work without resorting to jargon or whitewashing the process? If you’ll be working with members of their team, can you talk to them too?

You’ll be working closely with each other for a while, so you need to enjoy their company. In the end, it’s probably your heart, rather than your head, that will make the decision for you.

You can see some of the lovely things our clients say about us here.

George and James Architects collaborating design Surrey

What do you need to tell your Architect during your first conversation?

When meeting with our prospective clients for the first time, they often ask us “what do you need to know?”. The answer is “everything” – from what brings you happiness at the macro level, to whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush at the micro level!

We have written a separate article to help you this this step, you can find it here on our website. This focuses on our ‘Top 5’ conversation starters. When we speak will listen intently to your answers to our questions, making a mental note of what you do - and don’t – say.

Contemporary Farmhouse architecture across South Downs National park

Other burning questions which might be on your mind.

We have answers to the most common questions our clients ask us here on our website. Questions including: 

  • What type of projects do you take on?
  • We worry about the environmental impact of doing building work. Do you?
  • Do we have to sign up for full services from the outset, or can we take it a step at the time?
  • How much do you charge?
  • How much will my project cost?
  • How long will my project take?
  • What is your design style?
  • Where do you work?

If these questions don’t quench your thirst for answers, just send us an email and we will be happy to provide you with some information.

Fees George James Architects

Can you provide us with some initial advice without our needing to commit to hiring you?

If you're looking to buy a home – or any other type of building – and you'd like some initial, straight-talking advice before committing, then we’d love to talk to you.

We'll run through the opportunities as well as the planning implications and other constraints, and we’ll lay out the pros and cons so that you know exactly what you're dealing with.

For a 30-minute Zoom call, the cost is £120 (payable in advance), and that includes our prep time and follow-up notes. Or if you’d like us to visit the property with you, we’ll send you a bespoke quote which covers our travel time and expenses - get in touch to start the conversation. 

George and James team collaboration Surrey Hampshire Sussex

More helpful advice.

If you would like more helpful tips and information about working with an Architect and information about what we do, we have lots of free information on the blog page

If you are dreaming of a better home, and you would love to find out how it could be transformed but don’t know where to start get in touch - send us an email, give us a call or fill in the form and we can get start the conversation to get you going – and if we are not right for you, we will help point you in the right direction.

Take the first small step.

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