If you were to appoint me…
You may not have not worked with an architect before; you may not have embarked on a major building project. This page answers many questions and forms the basis of many of my appointments.
To ensure a successful outcome to any given project – be it small scale or large – there is a logical path, from initial briefing to final decorations, or for any portion in between.
0. Strategic Definition (an appraisal)
1. Preparation and Design Brief
At the beginning of a project I discuss the ‘brief’ carefully. This includes the overall scope of work to be embarked on and the likely costs involved – the building costs, plus all associated costs, such as professional fees. We start work on the project when we have agreed the basic principles and the overall cost targets.
Often this initial stage does not incur my fees as it all happens within an initial meeting where you are assessing me and I am assessing you. Other times, this stage is more intricate and requires further time.
Before design work is started, I like to have a measured survey of the building or a topographical survey of the building plot; for some projects where space/gradients/levels are all critical, I will not work without one – no one wants to be led towards a goal which proves impractical or unattainable later. The cost of the survey, whether it is done by me or by a firm of surveyors is charged separately.
In the first stage of the work I carry out the following functions:
Discuss and/or prepare preliminary design proposals; discuss or prepare preliminary budget forecasts; have initial discussions with local planning officers (as and if necessary); advise on the need to engage specialist professional consultants (as necessary).
3. Design Development
Having agreed the preliminary design schemes/budgets with the client, I develop the scheme to a more detailed level and prepare a planning application for submission to the local authority for 'Planning Consent':-preparation of all necessary location maps, site plans, building plans, section/elevations, roof plans and sketch views etc (as necessary); completion of all necessary 'Planning Application Forms' and preparation of any other relevant information to reinforce the planning application. I prepare a 'Design & Access Statement' if this is necessary for the type of planning application, to accompany the design drawings, and submit the application to the local authority on the client's behalf.
It should be understood that the granting of planning consent is decided by the Local Authorities, and many factors are taken into account: while all efforts are made to obtain the most succinct and useful pre-application advice, I cannot accurately predict the outcome of a planning application.
Often a planning matter can be complex and it may help to appoint a specialise planning consultant. I have worked with several
who fully understand the planning law and local development issues and the additional point of view can be invaluable. I am always very happy to liaise in this way during this stage of the
Once I have submitted a planning application on behalf of a client I monitor the application carefully and respond as necessary to any queries a planning officer may have. Occasionally a planning authority will require additional information or modifications to our design scheme whilst the application is under review with the local authority. I try to act quickly and efficiently in response to any such directives from planners, so that the application can be processed smoothly. Any alteration to drawings and/or additional information produced during the application process is unpredictable and so is charged on a time basis.
At this stage, hopefully with a planning approval in place, I supply you with copies of all the planning drawings, usually at
1:100 scale. I can also supply you with a full set of drawn information at 1:50 scale with additional dimensions added. While these drawings will have limited information on them and are not for
construction or setting out purposes on their own, they are often useful for obtaining budget estimates of the works. Sometimes, on very simple projects, this is all you will need from me to move
forward with a competent builder by your side. In these instances, I will always be available on an ad-hoc basis for further advice. You may also, within this stage, seek cost analysis or advice
from a structural or services engineer. For larger or more complex projects, I often remain appointed for further stages -
Pre-Construction and Construction
4. Technical Design
5. Production Information, Tender Documentation, Tender Action, Mobilisation, Construction to Practical Completion
Having received planning consent from the local authority, things move to the detail design stage. In this stage I carry out the following work:
I liaise with a structural engineer (if one is required) and brief them with regards to the structural design and what is
required in terms of design details as well as structural calculations. I carry out a more detailed inspection of the site, and/or of the building and prepare all necessary detailed drawings,
details and specifications and specify materials and components. I can sometimes liaise with other consultants for elements such as lighting and heating.
If necessary, I can also prepare simple electrical layout drawings, diagrammatic plumbing and heating layouts and drainage
layouts, although I am neither an electrician nor a heating engineer and will liaise with those qualified to carry out the works to ensure that your brief meets all acceptable
For costing purposes I often accompany a set of drawings with a written 'Contract Schedule of Works' which I prepare with my
clients. Along with the drawings, this is one of the most important documents for recording what you want from your contractor.
I can submit all relevant design drawings/calculations/diagrams/specification to the local authority for 'Building Regulations
Approval', but I am equally happy to liaise with contractors for them to submit this information too.
Throughout this stage you will liaise generally with me through detail designs and specifications and
revisit the the budget to update in the light of any changes to the design scheme or the agreed scope of work.
When you are ready to obtain firm quotations for the project, I can meet any builder you have in mind or research the availability and suitability of other building contractors and advise you on 'Contract Procurement Procedures'.
When the detail design drawings/specifications/schedules etc are complete, I send this entire package of information out to one or more building contractors for pricing and negotiate a contract price with your chosen builder.
Having agreed a contract sum I assist the client and the building contractors in preparing for the construction phase and in arranging the 'start on site' date. During the construction phase of the project I can carry out the following procedures/duties:
Day-to-day liaison with the building contractor, sub contractors and specialist suppliers; attending site at appropriately regular intervals and hold meetings (the formality of which depends on the nature of the projects!) and monitoring the progress of work. I Report back to you on any major issues and liaise with structural engineers, quantity surveyors and any other professional specialist consultants during the course of the contract. I prepare and issue any further detailed design information that may be required by the building contractor, the sub-contractors or specialist suppliers. I prepare and issue monthly interim valuations to facilitate progress payments from the client to the building contractor.
If necessary, and usually in conjunction with the contractor I liaise with the local authority building inspector (The District Surveyor) to ensure that he is satisfied with the construction of the new building works.
Towards the end of the works, I deal with all 'practical completion procedures', and general checking of the completed project before the projet is handed back to you. I prepare final valuation information, collating all relevant building costs, and issuing the 'penultimate' valuation certificate.
6. Handover and Close Out - Post practical completion
After a client moves into a new or renovated building and starts to live/work in the property, there are often additional works, and/or minor variations that the client requires. It is normal at this stage for there to be some degree of 'fine tuning' of requirements. I can assist to ensure that, as much as is reasonably possible, you are satisfied and, where practical, these matters are dealt with before concluding the building contract, or issuing the 'Final Certificate' which facilitates the final payment from the client to the building contractor.
Time expended in post-contract works and additional client requests are charged separately from the main fee, and on a time basis at agreed hourly rates.
7. In Use
More and more, the performance of a building in use is becoming an important part of my process. Low energy buildings often require an evaluation after some period of use, to see if they live up to expectations, to see if they perform as others said they would. Is the design as sustainable as it was intended to be? Is a set of 'as constructed' information required for record purposes? My involvement here would be by request and fully agreed in advance.