What we do
As an RIBA Chartered Practice we follow the Plan of Work as defined by the Royal Institute of British Architects. This plan of work is defined to guide clients and all building professionals through the process of creating a new building from deciding to appoint an architect to living in your new home. This approach to work is tried, tested and trusted. You can see the full Plan of Work here.
The process of designing and building can be overwhelming and confusing so we have summarised the stages as follows:
First of all we need to fully understand what our client is hoping to achieve. We need to carefully consider whether the site is suitable for the project, whether the requirements make economic sense, whether the budget (if this has been established) is appropriate to meet the client requirements and expectations, and consider planning and other regulatory constraints. For smaller projects this is likely to take the form of a face to face meeting where these issues can be extensively discussed.
Preparation and Briefing
Before we think about a design we gather site information (obtain accurate measured and topographical surveys, drainage surveys), confirm overall project budget and outline programme through to delivery, define the clients’ brief listing desired outcomes, sustainability targets, and spatial requirements. This is likely to involve one or two face to face meetings and a number of email exchanges of comparative project outcomes or ideal / preferred solutions.
First draft scheme design; a synthesis of all of the requirements above laid out on the site to achieve the most efficient and elegant design to deliver the clients aspiration and vision. This is likely to centre on dimensioned plans, sections and elevations, but may also be conveyed in the form of 3D sketches. The concept design will convey the mood and feel of the intended end result, and we will start considering materials and finishes both internal and external at this stage.
Following analysis and discussion of the concept design plans and sketches, we will likely create another iteration or two based on client feedback progressing ideas that we all like and adapting or revising certain features. Once we all agree that we are ‘on the same page’, we will freeze the design and draw it up in sufficient detail to submit a planning application and Listed Building Consent (LBC) application as required.
The scheme may need to be revised in the course of the planning application; if this is minor we may not raise a charge for these revisions, if the revisions are more substantial we may need to ask for an additional fee but we would agree this with the client in advance of undertaking.
Technical Design Part 1
Once planning and LBC has been consented we will start to turn the scheme into a construction scheme. All the work we will have completed before will be done with certain construction methods and processes in mind, but at this stage it gets much more detailed and we will need the supporting appointment of a structural engineer, possibly a services consultant if the scheme is complex, and the introduction and commitment to specialist suppliers for skilled handcrafted elements such as oak frame or bespoke glazing systems. The culmination of this stage is a Building Regulations submission for conditional approval which is an outline agreement that the general construction scheme is aligned with current regulatory legislation, including aspects such as energy efficiency and sustainability.
Technical Design Part 2
With a structural and services scheme in place the construction scheme can be developed in fine detail. This will involve detailed lighting and electrical layouts, detailed layouts for bathrooms and kitchen showing extent of tiling and details of taps, screens and other fittings and finishes, details of doors and windows, floor finishes, and woodwork profiles such as skirting, architraves and stair handrail profiles. The construction documentation will include fitted joinery such as wardrobes and shelving, and also external finishes (paving, steps and planting beds) and external lighting. This will give a detailed schedule for pricing that can allow tendering or negotiation of a total cost for the delivery of the clients vision, which will be a ‘turn key’ cost with only loose furniture, carpets, soft furnishings and window dressings to complete the finished result. We will assist and advise on the selection of a suitable contractor to deliver the result.
Manufacturing and Construction
Following appointment of the main contractor we will draw up a contract and then agree details of programme and communications protocol. From this point we tend to act as ‘Contract Administrator’, interpreting the design and agreeing practical constructional evolution as the build progresses on site, as well as monitoring quality and compliance with details and specifications as noted. Some clients will want to be intimately involved in the day to day detail of design decision, others will want a more arms length project management approach with weekly updates on progress (along with progress photographs if required) and we can tailor our service and fees to suit. There will be hundreds of detailed issues to be resolved, often scores on an urgent daily basis and while the creative challenge can seem exciting to the client to begin with extended exposure can become overwhelming. We are well versed in many ways to handle this process and will agree the right solution for the client and project.
At completion we inspect the ensure that all is fit for purpose. There may be some defects which we will point out and ask to be rectified before handover, and there may be ‘latent’ (hidden) defects which only come to light after several weeks or months of occupation. Either way we will administer the terms of the contract accordingly to ensure that the right product is delivered as it should be. We will also request, review and recommend the issue of ‘as built’ drawings and documentation which will form the basis of the handover manuals which will be the clients guide to maintenance of the finished building over the years to come.
We will return to monitor the performance of the building in use over a period following occupation, with a view to updating design practice and input based on client feedback. This time input will not be charged back to the initiating client.
The above is a description of a full service. However a client may ask for a more tailored service, requiring simply design and consents or just an interior design scheme. We will be happy to discuss the clients needs and tailor a fee level to suit the input required.