There are many different individuals who advertise as providing ‘architectural services’ who are not in fact qualified architects, often at vastly reduced prices. This can often be confusing to prospective clients setting out on a project. This section is intended to provide a basic understanding of the difference between an architect and others claiming to provide the same services.

Definition of An Architect

Before a person can be called an architect he or she will have completed a seven-year course in the design, specification and erection of buildings and passed the professional practice examination which is the final stage of an architect training.

This permits entry to the list of UK Architects held by the Architects’ Registration Board (ARB), and use of the title ‘architect’.

A chartered architect is obliged to uphold the reputation of the architectural profession and fellow professionals; to carry out work on behalf of clients honourably, independently and efficiently; and to declare any interest which might conflict with their status as an independent consultant architect. Please note that the use of the title ‘architect’ is protected actively under the Architects’ Act 1997 by ARB.

A Client-Centred Service

Architects provide a service that extends well beyond producing a set of drawings. Adept at identifying the aspirations and needs of their clients, architects will bring their special skills, knowledge and experience to a project.

Value for Money

Not only can architects provide value for money, but professional attention to detail will achieve value through the most efficient use of space and careful selection of materials and finishes. Environmental sensitivity, energy efficiency and low running and maintenance costs can bring extra benefits to your project and long-term savings!

Freedom from Worry

Architects can guide you through the complex procedures of planning permission and building regulations and monitor the builder’s programme of works through to completion. RIAS members are obliged to carry professional indemnity insurance – giving you peace of mind. 


Whether you are looking for tradition or innovation, boldness or understatement, an architect can lift your project out of the ordinary. Many people will offer to alter your building. It takes an architect to maximise its potential and to do it with flair, imagination and style.

A building project, whatever its scale, can be daunting, but the same basic criteria apply, be it a simple house extension or a large office development. When you use a chartered architect you are employing someone who has undertaken seven years of professional training, the longest in the building industry. Anyone styling himself or herself ‘building consultant’, ‘architectural designer’, ‘plan drawer’ and so on is unlikely to be an architect and does not have comparable skills or knowledge.