We heard about Thinking Buildings via a RIBA search of local practices – Darren responded extremely quickly when we registered our project on the RIBA website, and we were won over by his pro-activity and desire to support us in our project from the outset. We met three or four architects, but we “clicked” with Darren immediately and his fees were competitive too which made it an easy decision.

We had never appointed an architect before, nor done any major building work, so we were naturally very keen to appoint a strong professional team to support us. Darren and James had just set up on their own having both worked for a number of years in larger practices, so they didn’t have much of a track record as a new practice, but we took up references from their previous clients and also visited a previous project, so quickly got comfortable that they knew what they were doing.

We were looking for a practice that was small enough to enable us to work directly with the design team / individuals. We talked to larger practices, but were concerned that the partners that pitched the work to us would have had little involvement in the project and we would be left dealing with a less experienced team.

Fee structure was also important. We only considered practices that offered fixed / semi fixed fees based on project milestones. We struck out practices that priced based on contract value as we didn’t feel this aligned incentives to run an efficient project.

We were impressed by the level of proactivity and engagement from Darren from the moment we registered our project with RIBA. Darren took the time to understand our wishes (some of them a little unusual) and produced some outline sketches etc free of charge before we appointed him, which really helped us to get comfortable with both his capability as an architect and also his ability to interpret our requirements. He was also not afraid to challenge us based on his professional experience at times, but this was always in a collaborative way, and we felt he got just the right balance of working with our vision and delivering his own design input and experience to deliver a first class project.

Darren was calm under pressure at all the key pinch points on the project. He was patient and accommodating when we wanted to redesign part of the project quite late on in the tender process and managed onsite issues well. He was also an independent advisor onsite, balancing our wishes with those of the builder and helping us to manage the project to a successful conclusion on budget.

They never forced his ideas on us, but worked with us.

First class design – with Darren’s help we have sensitively restored our traditional farmhouse, making the best of the inherent character of the historical building, whilst adding first class modern design with a little bit of a contemporary twist

Small enough to care – we loved working with Darren, and I have no doubt Thinking Buildings will grow and prosper over the years, but it really made a difference to us working with a small team that were really close to every detail on our project.

Good technical skills – Darren and James had a good knowledge of modern building techniques which helped in specifying a number of building enhancements such as insulation system, drainage, heating technologies etc.

Would you be happy to recommend Thinking Buildings – Absolutely. Darren’s approach is collaborative. He not only bought into our vision, working with us to accommodate all of our needs, but also wasn’t afraid to tell us when he felt we were wrong, striking the perfect balance between creative design, professional skills and trusted advisor.

Thank you! We look forward to working with you in the future.

Ian & Lynne McArdle,