I haven’t done this before, how do I start and where does it finish?

1. I haven’t done this before, how do I start and where does it finish?

Every project is of course different; however the key stages along the journey are usually similar.  To summarise a typical project:

• Meet your architect.  We offer a free initial meeting without obligation at your property to discuss your ideas and our approach to design.  Assuming that goes okay:

• Agree the terms of our appointment and your brief in writing.  This will include an itemised scope of work to be done and the fees agreed for each item.  This is very important – time spent sorting out exactly what you expect and how much it will cost at this stage helps everyone.

• Prepare detailed measured drawings of the existing site or property.  These are essential before any meaningful design work can be carried out and will also be needed to make applications for planning and building regulations approvals.  If you have existing drawings this can save time, otherwise we will carry out a measured survey and draw ‘As Existing’ floor plans and elevations.

• Prepare sketch options, in 2D and 3D as appropriate, for review and discussion with you.  For a new building this will start with very conceptual drawings relating to massing, scale, outlook and orientation, relationships with neighbouring buildings and site topography and will then develop into a building concept.  For an extension or refurbishment project the relationships between new and existing spaces and how they may be made to work better are more dominant.  In all cases, this stage requires a lot of liaison between the architect and client to arrive at a ‘preferred option’ with an agreed brief and design direction to take forward.  We can at this stage obtain an initial build estimate to establish the project’s outline budget.

• Following your instruction to proceed, we will then develop the design in further detail through plans, elevations and cross sections and prepare drawings in sufficient detail to make a planning application.

• Manage the planning application (and listed building or conservation area consent applications, if required) to determination by the local authority.  To obtain the optimum outcome it is essential to liaise with the local authority throughout the process to pre-empt and address any concerns they may have – not just to submit and wait for the decision.

• Once planning approval has been granted, develop the drawings further, with outline construction notes, into a building regulations application.  As with planning, this should be managed throughout the determination process for the best outcome.

• Prepare a schedule of building works and finishes for tendering to suitable contractors.  This can be either by negotiation with a preferred contractor or by competitive tender to a number of contractors.  Once again it is important to liaise with the contractors as they develop their tender. Your input into the selection of finishes, fixtures and fittings is crucial at this stage and will have a major impact on the budget.  Once tenders are received we will prepare a detailed tender analysis report with a recommendation to you.

• With statutory permissions in place, a contractor on board and a price agreed we then develop the information into a fully detailed construction package of drawings and specifications.

• Draw up a formal contract between you and the selected contractor.

• If you wish us to run the job on your behalf we act as contract administrator throughout the construction phase: issuing information, responding to site queries, inspecting the works to ensure quality is satisfactory and certifying and valuing work completed for you to pay the contractor.  Regular site visits ensure, as far as possible, that workmanship and materials are of sufficient quality and adhere to building regulations.  We keep you informed of progress each step of the way.

• On completion we ‘snag’ and certify the works, re-inspect after the contractual defects period and certify contractor’s payments and draw up the final account.

• Finally, we hand over the completed project to you.
dance only and not as specific advice.  Also, things do change over time (particularly planning policy and building regulations) and, although this section will be updated periodically, it may not always be completely up to date.  If you have a specific query about your project or a general enquiry please do not hesitate to call and speak to one of our team who will be able to give you more targeted guidance.

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