Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get in here at Ian Black Architects. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get in touch either via our general Contact Form or by Booking a Consultation.



Architectural fees will vary dependant on services required, the size and complexity of your project, and the type and extent of service required.Because we tailor our services to each project we do not have set prices. After discussing your needs at an initial consultation , the Architect will provide a written fee proposal appropriate for your project based on the scope of services discussed  for your consideration. All services are subject to Client approval and written contract.

Our homes are custom designed so that you will never find another house exactly like yours. If the house was originally designed by Ian Black Architect, we can design a house for you that is similar in style  to the dwelling  you admire but not the same.

Plans “off the shelf” are drawings that appear in a lot of “plan” magazines and books. These are available for new build house projects.Some Advantages are:

  • Plans generally have low initial cost
  • Very few decisions to be made

Some Disadvantages are:

  • They are not customised to your needs and lifestyle, thus the home will inherently be generic and impersonal.
  • They may not be suited to the site or area you intend to build in
  • The ‘shelf’ plans may not follow your local planning guidelines / restrictions.
  • Changes to ‘shelf ‘plans do not allow for your input (other than very minor changes),
  • Changes can be expensive and most find it more trouble than it’s worth
  • Inevitably  houses that are  built from’ off  the shelf’ designs   tend to be extended or remodelled after the home owner discovers  that it does not suit their requirements.
  • Future extension or remodelling can make the project more expensive in the long term than having a bespoke design from the outset.

Most of our Clients find that designing a custom home to fit their family is more rewarding in the long run.

Your project can be an exciting undertaking that should be enjoyable and rewarding. But without careful planning, it could easily become overwhelming, difficult, and frustrating. We’ve all heard of someone who claims they’ll ‘never do it again’.A skilled architect can help you avoid the headaches and ensure the process runs smoothly. Architects are trained to consider the ‘big picture’ – from assessing the potential of your property through to minute construction details.Architects’ expertise is design , they are the only construction professionals trained to design buildings – they can help you develop a well-conceived project with lasting value. An architect starts by considering all relevant factors – your property, budget, etc. Design options are then fully explored, evaluated, and reviewed with you to determine the relative merits and implications of each potential solution.By drawing on the expertise of a skilled architect, you will be able to make informed and confident decisions that won’t leave you second-guessing. This is especially important – often owners are not fully aware of their options, as well as the benefits, risks, or implications of the choices they will have to make throughout the design and construction of their project.An Architect will save you money in the long run by helping you decide what you want and what it will cost, recognising and solving all problems, designing energy-efficient and attractive buildings, reviewing tenders for your build. They can also represent you in negotiation with the planners if needed.The development of a design is a two-way process between the client and Architect. We present a sketch design solution for the client’s input and their response is taken on board at each stage until the optimum solution is arrived at. There is never a ‘take it or leave it’ design solution.When your design has been developed and fine-tuned, construction drawings are prepared – the technical documents that will instruct the building contractor. If competitive quotes are desired, detailed specifications are produced, enabling you to get the best possible value for your project.An architect can address your concerns and provide guidance – while remaining entirely objective and looking out for your interest. Architects are in the unique position of providing completely unbiased advice to you, unlike for instance building contractors , sub -contractors or suppliers who have a financial angle, and do not always see the ‘big picture’.We can also guide you through the minefield of  S.I.9 Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and S.I.365 Building Control (Amendment 2) Regulations 2015.

Most people who go to an architect have never done this before, so you are in good company. You start collecting magazine clippings, pictures, and sketches etc. of what you are interested in this may be helpful to explain your ideas and preferences. Although this aids in the beginning stages, it is not a necessity.

Next, talk to a few Architects and schedule an initial consultation  to see how you “fit” with your Architect. You may have a better rapport with some and feel confident in their abilities. Don’t feel rushed. Ask a lot of questions. We welcome questions as an opportunity to educate you about your choices in the process, and we want you to know where the next step is and what possible pitfalls may come.

An architect needs to know  what your objectives are. A written  brief  or ‘wishlist ‘highlighting your likes and dislikes is important. You should also have an idea of your construction budget (ideal and maximum) and your timeframe.

Below are five of the most common work stages for Design and Construction:

  • Pre-Design Phase / Feasibility & General Services :This is the research phase. Physical location of the site will be studied to determine if the project is viable.
  • Sketch design Schematic /Conceptual Design:This is the sketching phase. 3D Layout options are discussed and reviewed.
  • Developed  Design and Planning Application:Once the design has been approved by the Client, The actual drawings for planning application are produced (if required). They include finished plans that are dimensioned, with elevations and sections.
  • Detailed Design and Construction Documentation  ;

Once Planning Permission  has been obtained (if required), detailed design drawings and schedules are produced. At the end of this stage all documents are used to tender the project.

  • Construction on Site:The Architect is available to inspect the site during construction and advise the Client on progress of the project. For some projects this can also include reviewing material and equipment selections.

Your project needs will determine the services we provide.

Most projects require some engineering services, although few projects need all the types of engineering services. As with all things in architecture, it depends on the complexity of your project. All Engineers should have indemnity insurance. Some types of Engineers used by Architects are:

  • Structural Engineer: Designs the foundations, structural slabs, structural columns & beams, roof structure & underground drainage.

And M&E services for residential projects are getting increasingly more complex therefore the following may be required for certification purposes:

  • Mechanical Engineer: Plumbing ,Heating and ventilation .
  • Electrical Engineer: Electrical systems, load analysis, PV & Solar Thermal.
  • Civil Engineer: Earthworks, site drainage, utility services, access to roads and parking etc.

There are a number of other Consultants that work with Architects: Landscaping, Interior design and Lighting design, and environmental consultants for example.

General Contractors co-ordinate & supervise the entire project, while a Subcontractor does one specific trade, such as an electrician or a plumber for example. The General Contractor organises, manages, and directs the entire project, including the hiring, co-ordination, and supervision of all Subcontractors. An advantage of hiring a ‘General’ rather than each sub-contractor individually is that you only have one person to deal with whom is responsible for everyone and has them included in his umbrella of insurance’s which is very important.

Many owners feel they can save money by doing the required co-ordination themselves and hiring the subcontractors directly. While this may be the case, there are many things to consider. To start with, a great deal of time, patience, and assertiveness is required to supervise and organise all required trades people, material deliveries, and inspections. This typically requires a thorough knowledge of construction scheduling, materials, and methods. As well, there may be some legal issues regarding liability in being the ‘General’. We do not recommend self-build projects due to the complex nature of complying with current Building Regulations. From the 1st of September 2015 it is possible under S.I.365 Building Control (Amendment 2) Regulations 2015. You must sign a Declaration of Intention to Opt Out of Statutory Certification, again we can advise.

Architectural SERVICES


Book A Consultation




General Enquiry