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Top tips for architects working with housing developers

Insight from clients in the housing sector about how architects can best work with them to create viable schemes which meet their expectations

Top tips for architects working with housing clients

The housing sector is inextricably linked to the government’s policy imperative to house its citizens, with affordability the critical issue. This context is a challenge to architects, who must translate policy subtleties into viable schemes that meet their clients’ expectations. The RIBA’s client sector roundtables, backed up by one-to-one filmed interviews, explored the issues that matter.

Top tips from housing clients

  1. Understand housing clients’ project drivers and make sure design proposals meet those requirements, as well as the broader design metrics.
  2. Proactively lead and coordinate the design team and manage risk.
  3. Optimise the development opportunity by understanding the underlying policy context, exploiting relationships with planners and engaging in effective community consultation.
  4. Design for long-term value in the rental and affordable housing sectors with users and ease of maintenance in mind.
  5. Demonstrate commercial and financial literacy to give clients comfort that you understand business strategy and can transfer that into the project process and the design.
  6. Balance design and technical inputs from inception to ensure affordable, buildable and high-quality outcomes.

The RIBA for Clients initiative is overseen by the RIBA Client Liaison Group, chaired by Nigel Ostime of Hawkins\Brown. It was set up to understand clients' experiences of working with architects and the value they bring to the project team.

In the first phase of the initiative (2013 - 2015), we engaged with some 500 clients, gathering evidence through roundtable discussions and one-to-one filmed interviews by sector. We covered contractor-led procurement, housing, retrofit, local authorities, schools, workplace, commercial developers, healthcare, heritage, transport & infrastructure and sport & leisure sectors. The findings are summarised in the influential report Client & Architect - developing the essential relationship.

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