Here you can find the questions we frequently get asked. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered please get in touch: info@askanarchitect-ni.com

How can I book?

  • Choose your architect using find an architect.
  • Click ‘book a consultation’. This will bring you to the RSUA website where you can make a donation of £50 to secure your consultation.
  • As long as you book before the initiative closes your chosen architect will be in touch with you to organise your consultation at a date that suits.
  • The architect will also arrange:
    • the location of the consultation (in the architect’s office/at your house/virtual/on site)
    • for you to get the most out of your consultation, perhaps by preparing your thoughts or thinking about your requirements


How can I get involved?

It’s very simple…

  • For the public: Book an hour-long, personal consultation with an architect. From a small renovation or extension to a whole new-build, your project can be of any size or scale. You can get an architect on board at any stage of your project, to help at the earliest conceptual stages or the last moments of problem-solving.
  • Businesses: ask an architect is not only for residential clients – if you are considering work on your commercial premises you can go through ask an architect as a way to realise your ambitions and give back to your community. ask an architect also makes a great cause for sponsorship, connecting your business to the local architectural community and clients involved in building. Thanks to the support of our sponsors, 100% of donations we receive go to the Jill Todd Trust and Friends of the Cancer Centre. If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, contact us at info@askanarchitect-ni.com and we can have a chat.
  • Architects: Pledge at least three hours of your time during the ask an architect initiative. Email us at info@askanarchitect-ni.com to sign up.
  • Of course, all funds raised are much appreciated, so even if you don’t book a consultation, you can donate directly to the Jill Todd Trust at this link, or you could hold a fundraiser.  If you have any questions, just get in touch at info@askanarchitect-ni.com

How will my donation be spent?

Thanks to the generosity of ‘ask an architect’ donors and sponsors, 100% of funds raised will go to The Jill Todd Trust. In addressing one of the registered objectives of the Trust, funds raised will go to assist research, conducted in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Belfast City Hospital, into finding a cure for cancer – via its affiliated charity – Friends of the Cancer Centre.


What can a chartered architect do for me?

Architects bring value to projects large and small and the RSUA website has more information, but as a starter your architect can:

  • Help you achieve your aspirations and vision
  • Provide new creative solutions
  • Add value to your project through good design and sound construction
  • Guide you through the design and construction process
  • Give you peace of mind


What can I expect from the consultation?

At your consultation,  the architect can advise on any size of building project from a loft conversion to a new build (domestic, commercial or civic). Some things you might discuss:

  • Information on building costs or construction techniques
  • Discussion on building materials likely to be used
  • Planning requirements or Planning Exempt Development.
  • The documents that will be used for planning; tenders; and building contracts
  • The potential pitfalls or opportunities that comes with a building project
  • Guidance on architect’s fees and services

Architect Aisling Shannon Rusk wrote a blog post for us, explaining the kinds of things she discusses in consultations with clients.

What is ask an architect?

ask an architect is an annual Northern Ireland-wide charity fundraising event. Professional chartered architects in every corner of Northern Ireland volunteer their time and expertise allowing you to book a consultation with an architect of your choice, in your locality, all while raising funds for the Jill Todd Trust. 100% of funds raised will go to assist research into finding a cure for cancer, conducted in the Cancer Centre of excellence at Belfast City Hospital via its affiliated charity the Friends of the Cancer Centre.


What is the Friends of the Cancer Centre?

Friends of the Cancer Centre has a long and proud history of helping local cancer patients across Northern Ireland over the last 30 years. Based at the heart of the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital, the charity funds life-saving and life-changing projects that make a real and lasting difference to the lives of thousands of local people affected by cancer and in the last year alone, Friends of the Cancer Centre has invested nearly £1.2 million into local cancer services.


What is the Jill Todd Trust?

The Jill Todd Trust was established in commemoration of Jill Todd’s personable, active and talented life which was taken after a short but aggressive cancer-related illness. Jill was only 23 and the daughter of local architect Barrie Todd. The Jill Todd Trust is a charity registered with the Northern Ireland Charity Commission No: NIC102553


What is the minimum donation?

£50 is the minimum donation but you are welcome to donate more!


What should I bring to my consultation?

The architect you book with will contact you to agree when and where your consultation will take place. Your architect will let you know if it would be beneficial to bring anything along. Here are some examples of things that your architect might talk to you about:

  • An Ordnance Survey ACE Map showing your property – This can be obtained from Land + Property Services, 7 Lanyon Place, Belfast BT1 3LP Or online at www.nidirect.gov.uk/OSNI
  • Photographs of the property and its surroundings.
  • Dimensions of the existing property if you’re considering building an extension.
  • Dimensions of a site if you’re considering a new build.
  • A list of accommodation that is required, for example, details such as number of occupants and the function of the particular rooms.
  • Images of similar properties that you admire.
  • An indication of your building cost budget.


What should I do after booking?

Relax – your architect will be in touch to arrange a date and time for your consultation within two business days, but please make an allowance for public holidays, including St Patrick’s Day, Easter and the May Day Bank Holiday.  If you haven’t yet heard from your architect, just get in touch by e-mailing julia@rsua.org.uk.


When is ask an architect happening?

Ask an Architect opens for bookings between April and September each year. Bookings are now closed for 2023 but will reopen in April 2024.


Who are the organising bodies of ask an architect?

The Jill Todd TrustThe Royal Society of Ulster Architects and Friends of the Cancer Centre.


Who should I contact if I have a question?

If your question hasn’t been answered here, please contact RSUA:

We had recently moved into a period home which needed a lot of attention. We had a 5 year goal of an extension and thought we’d get some clarity on how to get there. Aisling listened to our requirements and in her feedback she noted that we hadn’t said that we needed more space, rather that we wanted to use the space we had in a more connected way. This was crucial. The session was really practical as we asked questions about costs, financing, timelines. A few months on and a lot of dust later, we’ve been able to make some pretty incredible changes to our house based on Aisling’s ideas, featuring a neat little kitchen hatch and reconfigurations of doors and glazing. This allows us the connection through our family spaces with views from front to back. Meanwhile, a huge roof window on the top floor gives us access to the best views of the city!

I wouldn’t have thought of consulting an architect for a very small project.  The consultation through ask an architect showed my idea was feasible.  Without ask an architect, the idea would probably just have remained an idea!

Ask an Architect was a very useful initiative for me. It gave me the opportunity to chat with an experienced professional about potential ideas and plans to see how realistic they were. I learned a lot from it and think it’s a great way for other homeowners to get advice on building projects. I certainly came away with plenty to think about!