How It Works

SKETCH DESIGN RIBA STAGE 2 WORKING DRAWINGS RIBA STAGE 4 SITE SUPERVISION RIBA STAGES 5-6 PLANNING RIBA STAGE 3

Five stages of work

We are a full service practice and provide the complete range of architectural services. We operate our service in line with the RIBA Plan of Work. The diagram above shows how our simple five stage process works.

Most of our clients retain us for the full service. We can also tailor our service to your requirements if, for instance, you are looking to develop a planning application to start construction at a later date.

Embarking on a first-time building project can be an intimidating experience. We understand this!

Click on the diagram on the left to explore our work processes, so that you can make informed decisions about your next steps.

1. brief and survey

In this stage we want to understand your property and collect a detailed brief from you. Expanding on our initial consultation, we establish your needs and intentions for the project, your budget, and time-scale (particularly if you are doing work to a recently purchased property).

Once we have agreed the brief, we conduct a comprehensive survey of the property, or relevant parts of it. This allows us to create detailed plans from which we develop designs in the next work stage. For larger properties and new build sites we request that a firm of external surveyors undertakes the survey for us.

If required, we sometimes recommend additional surveying services, the most common being CCTV drainage surveys and arboricultural surveys.

The images on these pages show a small portion of survey documentation from our sample project.

2. sketch design

Once the measured survey is complete, we use your brief to prepare a sketch design. This illustrates the overall concept, including different possible layouts.

We usually present one or two options. We work by hand and at a small scale, to concentrate on the big picture. Detail comes later.

We always present initial sketch designs in person to explain the scheme and answer your questions. We follow up with revisions responding to your feedback. Most projects require just one or two revised designs to get it right.

Cost control and your budget are our priority, and we attend to this in all our work stages. Once you are happy with the design, we recommend asking a builder or quantity surveyor for an initial cost estimate.

This provides a guideline figure for your project costs, to reassure you that the scheme lies within your budget.

The process adds time to your programme, but we prefer this to proceeding with a scheme that you might not be able to afford.

3. planning

Following the sketch design stage, we develop the agreed initial design for submission to the local planning department. Our design at this stage considers all elements of the external fabric such as cladding materials and style of glazing.

At this point in most projects we prepare 3D visualisations to ensure that all aspects of the design can be clearly and easily understood. We appreciate that technical and professional drawings aren’t always clear to everyone!

For more complex projects, such as listed buildings and houses in conservation areas, we may recommend bringing in other advisors, such as planning consultants and heritage consultants, to assist us in preparing your planning application.

We do everything we can to give your application the best chance of success, but we cannot guarantee that planning permission will be acquired at the first attempt. Occasionally a second application may be required to gain planning consent.

4. working drawings

Once planning consent is secured, we prepare all the necessary construction information for a contractor
to carry out the work. We consider all elements of the construction process to mitigate the risk of problems arising on site. For the project illustrated here, we prepared around 40 drawings for the building contractor.

We also assemble the wider team of consultants needed to develop the design. This will vary between projects, but can include a structural engineer, interior designer, party wall surveyor, AV & lighting consultants, and landscape designers. We partner with trusted consultants and can make recommendations in most instances.

We co-ordinate with the whole design team to ensure that all build components fit together correctly. We provide internal layouts of key spaces like kitchens and bathrooms, as well as electrical and lighting layouts. We also prepare designs for bespoke fitted furniture, such as wardrobes, home offices and entertainment centres.

We work with you and/or your interior designer to ensure that your choices for interior finishes, fixtures and fittings co-ordinate with the rest of the build. The more decisions you finalise before work starts, the more quickly and straightforwardly the build is likely to progress

Once the drawings are complete, they are issued to contractors for pricing. We are happy to guide you through the procurement process and to discuss your best options with you. There are two potential routes for this. The first is formal tendering: each individual element is priced by each contractor, and overall costings compared for quality, thoroughness, accuracy and competitiveness. The second is where we assist you in negotiating an overall price with a single chosen contractor

We can make recommendations for contractors with whom we already have strong professional working relationships, but we are always happy to consider highly recommended builders you may know about from friends and family.

5. site supervision

In our final work stage, we assist whilst the project is on site. We call this site supervision, and we undertake several key activities for this stage of work:

Contract administration
We ensure that both you and the contractor are fairly represented under an industry-standard contract by acting as contract administrator. To guarantee that you are not being overcharged at any point during the work, we issue regular certificates to verify that sums requested by the contractor are correct. We certify when the work is complete, and when all final defects have been addressed.

Site inspections
We regularly visit the site to meet with you and your contractor, to ensure that our drawings are being implemented correctly, that the workmanship is of a good quality, and to deal with any surprises that pop up along the way. Generally we will visit every two weeks, but this can be more frequent at key stages.

There are some key things that we are not responsible for when your project is on site:

Programming is the responsibility of the contractor
The contractor will set a programme at the beginning of the contract and is responsible for organising materials and labour to adhere to this. The contractor is responsible for the day-to-day programme management of the build. We have very limited control over the detail of the programme, but we can extend the programme length under certain circumstances.

Client supply items are the client’s responsibility
You are responsible for ordering a range of items and ensuring that they are received on site. This usually includes your kitchen, bathroom fittings, floor finishes & tiles, light fittings and ironmongery. Delivery needs to be timely for the builder to incorporate these items at the right point in the build.

We will help you so that you know which items you need to buy, and the building contractor will let you know when they need them. It may seem daunting to take responsibility for these items: we offer advice and have drawn up a document that specifically outlines what you need to do. For larger projects, it can be helpful to employ an interior designer to co-ordinate and order larger client supply lists.

COVID 19

As lockdown eases, we remain open for business during normal working hours (9:00am-6:00pm) and are working from our COVID-secure offices. Work continues on site with all appropriate safety measures for our projects currently under construction, and we retain all social distancing precautions when we visit. We are happy to arrange consultations via videoconference for new and existing clients, or in person with appropriate precautions.

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