“20 years ago the distinction was a lot more clear cut. An Architect was usually the first port of call for any design work. They would design, project manage and look after the contracts for you. It was rare to find an Architectural technician advertising their services.
However within a typical architects office you would also find architectural technicians. Once the architect had taken the brief from you and produced a few sketches/ designs, the technician would take over and turn those designs into construction drawings, in short they were the link between the design ideas and the construction. The two had definitive roles and one wouldn’t usually function as well without the other. Of course, there were and still are exceptions.
Move on 20 years to 2015 and things are different. Not so much for the commercial market where large multi million pound projects are designed, but rather for small scale developments such as house extensions and loft conversions, in short, the domestic market.
Technicians could always design, its part of the training on the usual qualification courses. Likewise Architects were also taught how to produce technical drawings. Hence the line between the two has become a bit blurry for domestic clients, and possibly why the question gets asked.
As architects spend a few more years (around 6-8 years as opposed to 4-5 for technicians) obtaining qualifications, the fees they demand are increased over technicians. This can be literally thousands of pounds different so if you are unsure, obtain quotes from both.
So who do you use???
I would suggest that if you are unsure what you want, but like the idea of a bespoke, contemporary and unique extension and are happy to spend time (and money) on the early design stages with numerous options, then an architect is probably the best route for you.
If you are like 99% of my past and present clients, you already know what you want, its a simple and straightforward design and you aren’t hoping to win any design awards, then i would suggest you save yourself a LOT of money and use an Architectural technician. Having said that, have a look through the portfolio of what I would class as ‘simple and straightforward’
Ironically, if you did chose the ‘Architect’ route and were happy to pay the higher fees, its a little awkward when you find out the person actually producing the construction information will be an Architectural technician……
Above all, I would suggest you look at all your options, consider your budget and use who you feel would be best placed to offer you the service you need.”