Posted 25 April 2015 - 10:10 AM
I have a feeling that we've only got one architect here, and he's up in Yorkshire, I think.
I appreciate the challenge in finding one you can work with, I spent a lot of time plodding around with a fairly simple brief (9 bullet points plus a site plan and topo survey) and failed to find an architect I could work with, so gave up and decided to do it myself. Since then we've had 12 architects come and visit our build and out of those there is one I absolutely definitely could have worked with (and wish I'd known of her practice when I was trudging around trying to find one!) and one I could possibly have worked with, but he was a bit further away. I don't think I could have worked with the other 10, if I'm honest.
I think you really need to almost interview an architect as if you were employing him/her for a job, and find out whether you're on the same wavelength. House design is so personal, that unless your views and those of your architect align quite closely the relationship may not produce either the best house for your needs or be a comfortable one.
I think there are two main friction areas; cost and compliance with your brief.
The first is often a problem, so you need to be very firm that you cannot exceed your budget and expect your architect to do all he/she can to come in under it. Consider using an incentive cost percentage fee contract, if they will consider it, where, say, for every pound the architect saves off your budget he/she gets to keep some of it as an incentive, over the normal fee. That way both of you win - you get a house that's on budget and your architect has an incentive to make some extra by reducing costs whilst still meeting the spec.
Compliance with the brief is really something you need to sort out right at the start, and relies very much on you have some clear requirements and the architect understanding them. Some architects I met went off into la-la land, followed their own ideas for the site and pretty much ignored some of our most important requirements.
Sorry this isn't a recommendation for you, but hopefully it may help you find someone locally you can work comfortably with.
As a final point, as you're going for an oak frame, where the detail design and structural work will largely be done by the frame supplier, have you considered using an architectural technician, rather than an architect? My experience with them has been very positive indeed, as they are generally more flexible and a fair bit cheaper for a single one-off house than an architect. Might be worth talking to a few in your area, as often they are better acquainted with the local planners, as they will probably be the people doing around most of the planning applications for extensions, small builds, annexes etc in the local area I suspect, rather than architects.