Although some practices specialise in a particular type of commission, for example, sports complexes, many are prepared to handle a wide range of work. You may be commissioned to produce designs for new buildings or for work to existing buildings. This is known as refurbishment work. There may be a demand for conversion work, for example to barns or redundant industrial buildings. Work may be commissioned by the private sector or by the public sector.
The range of possible commissions is wide and you might undertake some or all of the following work:
- industrial buildings such as factories or warehouses
- agricultural buildings such as barns or sheds, other animal housing
- commercial units such as retail outlets, offices, leisure outlets
- community buildings such as halls, churches, cinemas
- residential premises such as flats and houses
- educational establishments such as schools and colleges
- complexes such as sports halls, hospitals, nursing homes
Construction projects progress through well defined stages and you may be asked to handle the project from start to finish. In some cases, however, you might only be appointed to deal with a particular part of a project.
In order to be able to offer a full range of services to clients and to generate repeat business and word of mouth recommendations, it is important that you:
- maintain a good working knowledge of different construction methods, building materials and so on. Bear in mind that pressure to cut carbon emissions means that more and more buildings are being designed with energy efficiency in mind. Recent years have seen an increase in demand from clients for both residential and commercial buildings to be designed to Passivhaus standards
- make sure you keep up with changes in legislation that affect the construction industry - for example, understanding the architect's role under the Construction, Design and Management (CDM) Regulations
- keep up to date with developments in the built environment so that your designs reflect current trends as well as complementing existing structures
- have good organisational skills so that you can plan and monitor an orderly flow of work, coordinating the activities of the different members of the project team
- are a good communicator - disputes often arise during the course of a project because the roles and responsibilities of the architect and the client have not been clearly established from the outset