Who Can Design It?

When it comes to choosing who will design your home you are not quite as limited as you might first think.

Who Can Design It?

When it comes to choosing who will design your home you are not quite as limited as you might first think.

Many people consider their only option to be an architect. Yes this is one option, but the title “architect” is reserved for only a proportion of the possible designers you may choose.

We have gathered a wider selection of professionals for you to consider:


This seems like an appropriate place to start, as employing an architect is the most trodden path when it comes to designing your home.

In truth it is difficult to go wrong if you commission an architect. With the wealth of knowledge they bring as highly trained professionals, with a minimum of 7 years experience, they are often at the forefront of design and technology. Allowing you the best chance to create a truly individual home.

It may seem that employing an architect, and all the benefits they bring, is a no brainer. In many cases this can prove to be true, but there are a few considerations you must take first.

Although the downturn in the economy as a whole has meant that architects are now having to compete against each other for work, they still do come at a premium price. This can be as high as 6% of the build cost. In turn this introduces another problem, in that architects often take a fee dependent on the final cost and hence are encouraged to design as expensive house as possible.

Resulting in some cases where the architects designs become both unaffordable and unattainable for the self builder.

If you choose to go down this route it would be advised that you go through agencies such as the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) or the Association of Self Build Architects’ (ASBA) to find your architect of choice.

Package companies:

Package companies have forever resided successfully in the self build market. This is rather unsurprising as they take almost all of the hassle out of the self build process, and the design stage is no different.

The key for package companies is creating a design that you fall in love with, as they will own that design. Hence if you decide that the house they have designed is the one you want then you have no option but to commission the package company for the project.

Although this sounds like your hands would be tied, it does work in your favour as well as the package companies. They will be trying their utmost to create your perfect plans.

Most package companies therefore have excellent in-house designers and will try to incorporate your every want and need.

Other designers:

This category encompasses any other professional you may commission to design your home, and can often be a cost-effective option.

They include architectural technologists, surveyors and self taught individuals, such as interior designers, who have a certain flair for designing homes.

Whomever you choose they are invariably capable of taking on your project whatever its extent, but particularly for more straightforward jobs such as conversions and extensions.

This type of designer can offer other advantages apart from just cost. Very often they can have more experience of self build projects than architects who have been employed to design large commercial buildings. This means they are more aware of the self builders requirements and budget.

If you are going to take this route, as many people do, it would be recommended that you do some in-depth research of jobs they have completed before. Try to get details of designs, photos of completed builds and references as part of your analysis of your chosen designers credentials.


Designing the home yourself should be approached with caution.

There are people who have successfully completed this part of the process themselves, however there are many more who have fallen at this hurdle trying to take on the role of designer. Remember any small mistakes at this stage can prove extremely costly further down the line.

If you decide that you are going to go down this path then you would be well-advised to look for as much advice as possible. There are plenty of “how to” books looking at this very topic. Several software packages can aid you with the design process also.

On top of these it would be sensible that once you have come up with the design of your home, you employ some professional help for the technical drawings that are submitted for building regulation approval.

If you decide not to design it yourself, like most self builders, perhaps the best piece of advice is make sure you can communicate with whoever you choose. So once you have narrowed your possible designers down to two or three, organise to meet them and ascertain if you can work together.

Now you may well be in a position to decide what type of professional you would like to design your home. But before you decide on a particular individual to start the job you will need to make other decisions about your build, primarily what structural system you are going to use.

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