What Is The Difference Between an Architect and an Architectural Technologist?

If you’re an Architectural Technologist, the one question that clients, colleagues and peers will ask is: What is the difference between an Architectural Technologist and an Architect? In this post I hope I can make the distinction clear.

I want to improve my house – who do I call?

Let’s imagine for the purposes of this article that you want to extend your house. This is what the typical construction path in the UK looks like:

1.  Appoint a designer to guide you through the various stages of work.
2.  Agree on the design.
3.  Get the necessary planning and building regulations.
4.  Finalise the specification.
5.  Put the job out to tender.
6.  Choose a contractor.
7.  Start work on site.
8.  Project completed – get the work signed off.

If you take your project to an Architect’s practice, the Architect will:

  • Design the proposal.
  • Get planning permission.
  • Help the Architectural Technologist with the tender process.

The Architectural Technologist will then usually:

  • Get building control approval.
  • Complete the tender analysis.
  • Support the Architect with technical construction knowledge.

At this point you will no doubt be thinking: so I need to employ an Architect and an Architectural Technologist.

Not so fast. First you need to ask yourself:

Do I already know what I want to do with my house?

If you already have a very clear idea of what you want your new extension to look like or your design brief is straightforward (for example, the extension should be this big and fit with the style of the house) then an Architectural Technologist may well be able to meet all your needs.

At Grumitt Wade Mason, and most CIAT (Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologist) practices, we often run this type of project entirely in-house. This can save time and money since an Architect’s fees will generally be higher than those of an Architectural Technologist.

But don’t I need an Architect to complete the design work?

There are no laws or regulations to state that an Architect must design or submit a planning application for any given building project.

Architectural Technologists are the science and construction geeks of the architectural industry. We love knowing how things are put together, and solving problematic designs. An Architectural Technologist can advise you on every step of the process from the design stage to completion.

A step-by-step guide to UK construction projects

The best way to explain this is by using the RIBA plan of work. The RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) issued a step-by-step guide in 2013 to construction projects in the UK.

Even though this guide was published through the RIBA, anyone in the UK can submit building and planning applications.

Architectural Technologists are trained to accomplish all 7 steps and we do so for a large number of building projects in the UK.

Step 1 – Project Definition
Step 2 – Preparation and Brief
Step 3 – Concept Design
Step 4 – Developed Design
Step 5 – Technical Design
Step 6 – Construction
Step 7 – Finalise Job

So when do I need an Architect for my grand design?

If it’s a grand design you’re looking for, that could well be the point at which you seek the services of an Architect. Just as an Architectural Technologist’s training is largely on the science and practicalities of construction, an Architect will spend a lot of time at university studying the art and philosophy of design.

If you want something innovative, an iconic design, see a number of Architects to talk through your vision and your inspirations and then give them free rein to get creative (without frightening the neighbours).

But if the flights of fancy go a little too far for your liking, make sure you have an Architectural Technologist on hand to bring them back to earth!

What next?

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