6 Dec 2010

Are there any architects out there?

In my unofficial role as selfbuild agony uncle, I get some interesting and sometimes off-beat requests. But Janice Diamond's email last week stands out from the crowd. She's had such trouble finding the right architect that she's built a website to advertise for one. It's here. And it looks like a fantastic site as well, deep in the heart of the Lake District. She writes:

I was hoping that you may be able to give me some advice about how to find the right architect.

For some years I have been looking for an architect to design a new home on an existing plot in Rosthwaite in the Borrowdale valley in Cumbria.

The site is in a National Trust area, a very sensitive area. At present on the plot is a pre-fabricated building built in 1921. I have spoken to the planning officer so I know that I will be able to build a two story dwelling.

I have spoken to quite a few architects in the region. I specifically wanted the architect to use 3D technology and this ruled out quite a few. A few that were recommended were too busy even to get back to me. One told me that there was over a two year waiting list, and I couldn't get back to speak to him.

One architect that I contacted did go as far as doing an outline design , did all the measurements etc but had not understood me when I said that I wanted the best of the views. He put the ensuite and walk in wardrobes for the main upstairs bedroom where the view should have been. Downstairs he put an open fire where you would want the glass windows to look at the view and insisted that this was a good idea.

I thought that I'd found the right architect when I found one that was brilliant on the 3D. However, to cut a long story short he was already very busy with too much work and I didn't feel that he had the time to spend the time on my project.

It seemed to me that the work that most architects in the Lake District are fully occupied with renovations as well.

I next contacted RIBA and they sent me some contacts in the Lake District. Two of these I had already been in touch with. I phoned a third who was based further down in Kendal and they weren't really interested as they too were very busy with renovation work and suggested I try architects further South, like Lancaster.

Please could you advise me on the best action to take, ie would it be best to advertise ? and if so where would the best place be to do this.


  1. Seems as though she may have been unlucky, so far.
    I have e-mailed a few suggestions to her to assist her search for an appropriate Architect, as I am too busy to help and too remote from Cumbria.

    Anthony Southey RIBA

  2. Hi Mark.

    I'm not exactly local, but I might be able to help given the 3D aspect of the brief. Do you know if she's interested in the visual aspect of 3D or the project management possibilities of BIM? Daft question perhaps - both I imagine. I'll drop her a line.

  3. The answer is "Don't limit yourself to Architects". We are working with a practice of architectural technologists and they have been responsive, imaginative and listened to the brief.

    They are fitting us in around the work they do for other clients, including major house builders, and they can do 3D.

  4. Great idea, but might not be very efficient as most of the architects are very busy recently and most of the clients are encountering them, not the other way.