Work with an Architect: Your Home

Whether you are planning to construct your dream home or extending and renovating your existing house, a RIAI Registered Architect has the qualifications, vision, and experience to take you expertly through your building project. 

Where can I find an Architect?

The RIAI Practice Directory enables you to find a registered architect in your area. You can search the directory by practice name (if you have already identified a practice), by skill, or by location. 

Where do I Start?

A good way to start is by downloading our guide, Working with an Architect.

How does the Process Work?

  • Step 1 - Brief Development

    Meet with your Architect to discuss your requirements and aspirations. The information you provide for your Architect is called "The Brief".

    A good starting point developing your brief is by going through your existing home and making a list of what works for you and what does not work for you.

    Advise your Architect of your budget, time frame and any other parameters, as these will impact on the design.

    Time spent at this initial stage is invaluable as a design is only as good as the brief.

  • Step 2 - Initial Design

    When you have finalised the brief, your Architect will carry out a survey of your site (new builds) or your home (extensions, renovations).

    Your Architect will develop an Initial Design in form of sketch designs.

    Agree a time plan, budget, roles, communications and the services you require with your Architect.

    Your Architect will advise you on the need for specialist consultants or services and on planning requirements, building regulations, and health & safety regulations.

  • Step 3 - Detailed Design

    Your feedback on the Initial Design will become part of the Detailed Design for your approval.

    Your architect will provide you with drawings – including floor plans, elevations (views) and sections (cut-through). Other presenting tools your architects might choose include models and 3-D walk through.

    This is an important two-way process which will require your feedback and discussion.

  • Step 4 - Planning Permission Application

    If planning permission is required, your Architect will prepare the drawings and make an application on your behalf. (You cannot build from these drawings.)

  • Step 5 - Construction Drawings & Specification

    Following planning permission, and once you have instructed your Architect to proceed, they will produce full Construction Drawings, including site works and specification finishes.

    A technical and quality specification will be prepared to ensure that the project requirements are clearly stated for the contractor.

    The detailed design will incorporate any changes as required under a Grant of Planning Permission.

    Your Architect will also liaise closely with specialist consultants as required.

    As the design is now developed, a check on Building Regulation compliance should be carried out at this stage and any necessary modifications incorporated.

  • Step 6 - The Tender Process

    Your Architect will prepare tender documentation for main and specialist contractors.

    It is advisable to have at least three contractors submit costings (tenders) for a project. You and your Architect should be satisfied that each of the contractors is competent to carry out the work. For example, you should ask a contractor to see examples of previous work and speak to previous clients.

    The successful tender may not necessarily be the lowest one. In fact, if a tender is very low, the contractor may have missed something.

    In some cases, an Architect and client may agree to negotiate a tender price with just one contractor.

    Your Architect will also advise on the most appropriate RIAI Form of Building Contract for your project as well as on insurance requirements during construction.

  • Step 7 - Building Works & Building Regulations

    During construction, your Architect will act on your behalf as an independent advisor, inspecting the building work at intervals to ensure that it is being carried out generally in accordance with the contract documents.

  • Building Control (Amendment) Regulations

    On 1 March 2014, the Irish Government introduced new regulations, S.I. 9, which set out new procedures for the control of the building activity. Under the new regulations, the Building Owner is responsible to ensure compliance with Building Regulations and must appoint a competent Architect, Design Certifier, Builder and Assigned Certifier. If your project is carried out under BC(A)R, your Architect may act as the Assigned Certifier.

    In August 2015, the Government introduced an ‘opt out’ from BC(A)R for one-off houses and domestic extensions (S.I. 365). There are implications for ‘opt-out’ and we advise that you read the RIAI Client Guidance Note on BC(A)R and the DHPCLG Guidance on our website, along with the article "Is the Opt Out for domestic projects really good news?".

    You may also be interested in reading the RIAI Research Publication on Building/Construction Cost Guidelines 2019.