An architect will always add value to your project however modest. Even the most innocent looking building project involves the co-ordination of a number of disparate individuals and disciplines - architects are the only professionals trained to guide you through all aspects of the design and construction process (technical, legal, financial and aesthetic). However, the most appropriate role for the architect will depend on your budget and level of ambition.
If you want to get the most out of your home but are happy with conventional details and materials, then an architect may be best used to think through the strategic options, draw up simple plans, and hand these to a builder of your choice for you to manage.
If, on the other hand, you recognise the benefits of an entirely bespoke solution, and believe this will significantly increase your enjoyment of your home, then you will benefit from employing an architect from your first deliberations about what you want to achieve to signing off the builder’s final touches.
The amount of work you commission from your architect depends on the level of control you wish to have over the cost, quality and duration of your project. The more time you’re prepared to invest in the design process, the more confident you can be that you are getting exactly what you want; the more detail the architect provides in the tender documentation, the fewer awkward (and costly) surprises the builder is likely to encounter on site; keeping the architect on to administer a contract between you and your builder should help you keep control of costs and reduce the risk of the job over-running.