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Cheap architect drawing services: 7 reasons to avoid them! [2024 update]

Thinking of saving money by choosing a bargain-priced designer online? Find out why it could be a terrible mistake that will end up costing you serious cash

4 January 2024
3 minutes read
Female architect wearing a white blouse with her blonde hair tied in a ponytail with a black ribbon and wearing black rimmed glasses drawing with a pen on technical drawings printed in A3 on an architect drawing board

I want to make a confession...

...we’ve all done it!

We’ve looked at a quality product or service and known it was the right choice before switching to someone else because it saved a little money upfront. And then later on, inevitably, we regret it.

We think back to that decision and know that we should have gone for quality when it was on offer. We all know that cheap products and services are cheap for a reason – they don’t last as long, they don’t give you the same sense of satisfaction and (this is the galling bit) they often end up costing you much more in the long run.

Almost everyone you talk to will agree, buying a lower-priced product or service doesn’t mean getting the highest value.

It is the same with architecture. The cheap architect drawing services or cheap online architect drawing services leave you high and dry in situations where the quality service providers will stick with you and help you every step of the way. Make no mistake about it.

Here is our guide to the top seven reasons to avoid cheap architect drawing services.

Work with ARB-registered architects and RIBA-chartered architecture firms

The title “Architect” is a protected title in the UK. The law requires those who use it to be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) after undergoing 7 years of architectural education and a minimum of a further 2 years working in the industry. The ARB is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest.

This is important: Cheap architect drawing providers who are not fully qualified architects use different variations of the word. These include "Online Architect" or “Architectural Designer” or “Draftsman”. If the architecture company you are using isn’t registered with Architects Registration Board (ARB), or if their firm is not a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, you should ask why.

"A house is likely to be the single biggest asset people own in their lives so it is silly to cut corners. Clients should ensure they commission qualified architects who will sit down and discuss with them how their lifestyle and needs will benefit from the building work. They also need to assess whether the project will sufficiently enhance the value of the property to cover its cost. You need an architect with knowledge of the local market to estimate that." Adrian Dobson, the executive director of professional services at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

It is always possible to further save costs by planning ahead, engaging a well-established multi-disciplinary architecture company and choosing the right builder. In most cases, we help our clients save more money than we charge for our professional services. 

ARB charted architect working on a rolled out piece of printed paper of side elevation drawings with a pencil and a ruler resting on a dark brown wooden table nearby

1) Make the most of your investment

Although a cut-price architectural designer or draftsman might seem like a good idea on the surface, it isn’t going to save you any money in the long run. Only a quality ARB-registered architect or a RIBA-chartered practice can help you avoid issues further down the road. If you get cheap planning drawings and they fail, what would that cost you? Cost is certainly a key consideration in an investment like this, but the other consideration is the return you get. What kind of return do you typically look for when you buy a service like this?

ARB-registered and RIBA-chartered architects solve planning and design and build problems, and in the long run that it's that knowledge and experience that can save you headaches, time and money.

A quality architect will have the right contacts in the building trade to make their ideas come to life and give you a stress-free build. A cheap drawing company is not interested in building a relationship with you. All they want is their money.

2) Add light and space to your home

A cheap architectural designer is cheap for a reason. They will draw standard extensions, conversions and homes, and deliver them to you in a standard way. Probably all of us have memories of when we cut costs on something and then had to live with the fact that we didn’t get what we really wanted for a long, long time.

Reputable architecture firms are not in the business of selling drawings. Yes, they provide drawings, but those drawings are just a small part of the service. What firms like ours sell are solutions for homeowners so they can fill their home with space, comfort and value and for developers they can make the most of their ROI.

I am sure that you want an architect that delivers something brilliant, something unique… Architects Registration Board-registered architects know how to work with light and space to create something breathtaking. That is what you want from a London architect, and that is what you get when you choose quality. Let cheap architects design cheap houses for cowboy builders.

3) Save effort

When you hire an architect you want someone to run with your ideas and turn them into reality. A bargain-basement architectural designer will just deliver a design and walk away. You want so much more from the process than that.

A professional architect will work with you on the design until you are completely happy with it. They will deal with all the planning permission issues and speak directly to the planning officers. They will liaise with the builders and talk them through the ideas on the page. Most of the cheap architectural designers or technologists do none of this and will expect you to do all the legwork.

4) Bring more creativity into your project

A supposedly low-cost architectural design company doesn’t have the money to invest in the innovation that brings your ideas to life. They often work in the most basic of formats, and give you low-quality planning drawings to submit for planning permission application or building control application.

However, a fast-growing architecture practice looks at new ways of making your ideas more concrete. They will invest in new technologies to offer excellent value. Did you know that we use the latest BIM technology and virtual reality devices so that you can see your home before it has been built? [BIM process](https://urbanistarchitecture.co.uk/bim-building-information-modelling-process/), virtual reality and the rest of the cutting-edge technology we use creates the most accurate drawings, scheduling information and cost estimates for you.

Interior design of an office room in a private residence in a converted roof space with a dormer extension with a large skylight allowing natural sunlight to filter through and bounce off of the baby blue painted integrated wall storage

5) Save time

When you are going through the process of building, every day counts. That day might be a day where you can’t get your new design sold, or it might be another frustrating day before you move into your new home (and another day when you are stuck paying rent when you are already a homeowner). It might mean another day where you have to pay builders to be on site. The cheap architect drawing services in London don’t care about this – all they want is to send the cheap planning drawings and then walk away to find another customer.

On the other hand, a diligent architect will know which materials will be easier to assemble. They will know the building regulations so you don’t get caught up in a swamp of red tape further down the line. Quality saves you time – quality saves you money.

6) Take control of your project

Companies who provide cheap architect drawing services don’t want any extra hassle with councils or dealing with builders. They want to send you the plans and let you do all the hard work when they already have your money.

A quality architect will look after your project from start to finish. They will be in your corner at all times and can deal with the planning officers and builders with any issues linked to your project. That is all part of the service. That's because a reputable firm isn't here just to work with you this once – they want to make sure they keep their customers for life.
Don’t settle for second best when it comes to your assets.

7) Add value to your home

You may consider a registered London architect as an expense when in fact, they are a critical value add-on.

A registered architect will add aesthetics, functionality and value to your property. These are all vitally important to making sure that the project has the highest value possible when built. Imagine how much less stress there would be over managing your project if you leave it to the experts?

For example, here at Urbanist Architecture, our primary objective is not to make our services much cheaper both to make and to supply. Our primary objective is to provide fantastic service. Because the value is greater than the price paid, our customers keep coming back to us for their projects. Even customers who tested the waters with cheap architect drawing services returned, and they are now more convinced than ever before that quality matters.

An emphasis on price alone, especially for something as important as architecture services, will usually mean disappointment is the end result, rather than satisfaction.

If your top priority is “cheap,” we are not your guys. But if you are interested in effective home improvement projects that are delivered on time and needs minimal revisions, you are going to love working with us.

Fact is competing on price is easy – just sell cheap! But successful landlords make their decisions on more than just price, results matter hugely. Nobody wants a low-quality finished product!

How Urbanist Architecture can help you with your project by doing things the right way

Remember: It is always possible to further save on costs by planning ahead, engaging a well-established multi-disciplinary architecture company and choosing the right builder. In most cases, we help our clients save more money than we charge for our professional services.

Urbanist Architecture is a London-based RIBA-chartered architecture and planning practice with offices in Greenwich and Belgravia. With a dedicated focus in proven design and planning strategies, and expertise in residential extensions, conversions and new build homes, we help homeowners, landowners and developers achieve ROI-focused results.

If you would like us to help you transform your house into a home your family will love or to provide you with a free feasibility assessment of your property investment project, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Ufuk Bahar, Founder and Managing Director of Urbanist Architecture
AUTHOR

Ufuk Bahar

Urbanist Architecture’s founder and managing director, Ufuk Bahar takes personal charge of some of our larger projects, focusing particularly on Green Belt developments, new-build flats and housing and high-end full refurbishments.

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