Choosing to extend your home or deciding to dive into a new build house from scratch can be a daunting task. Especially if you've never built before, let alone engaged an architect’s services.
We believe having solid professional advice from an experienced Chartered architect at the beginning of your building project makes a big difference to the efficiency and smooth-running, ensuring you get the most out of your budget and design aspirations.
To help you understand a little bit more about what we do, we’ve set out our process below, taking you from the initial design consultation right through to the construction sign-off.
While not all stages are required for each project, this guide is intended to provide a quick overview of our services.
1. The Brief
The best way for us to understand your project and put together a proposal tailored to you, is to meet on site and discuss in person.
We normally will suggest a face to face site meeting with all potential clients, as this helps us to get to know you better, and understand the reasons behind the work. Being on site also gives us the opportunity to review any possible constraints or challenges that could arise during planning, and discuss any alternative options that may provide a solution.
Following this initial consultation, we’ll prepare a proposal covering your brief, comprising clear fee and delivery schedules.
Working primarily with residential clients on a range of projects, we know how important your budget is, which is why we offer fixed fees that only change if the project scope changes.
If you’re happy to go ahead with us as your architect, we’ll formalise and sign the appropriate paperwork.
2. Measured Survey
The first step for most residential extension projects is for us to return to your house and produce an accurate survey of the existing building, land and (if required) garden. This helps us become more familiar with your home and partner with you to further understand your requirements and desires for the final outcome.
For more complex projects, or new builds where accurate levels are crucial, we may recommend the services of one of our partner Land Surveyors.
3. Sketch Design
With a comprehensive set of base drawings completed, we now begin the fun part! We’ll start by preparing sketch plans that help to physically define your brief, getting the ideas out of your heads onto paper. This is a great opportunity to discuss any bespoke elements you are hoping to include, furniture or products you have seen, or particular preferences. Including items and thoughts like this in the early drawings, help to ensure you get everything that’s on your ‘wish list’.
For listed buildings or schemes that are potentially more contentious, we recommend engaging the local planning department from the start, taking advantage of their Pre-Planning Application Service.
While not as detailed as planning drawings, sketch designs and related information is usually sufficient to begin discussions with the planners and get their all-important feedback.
Once the sketch design proposals are agreed, we’ll begin preparing the planning drawings along with any written statements required to submit an application to the local Council. Depending on the nature or location of your project the planning department may request additional information such as tree reports, environmental surveys or flood risk assessments (to name a few...). Over the years we’ve built up good local contacts who can provide any specialist information required.
Securing planning permission can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks, depending on the scale of your project. For clients looking to start building soon after the council’s approval letter is received, we can begin preparing the Building Regulation drawings during the planning process. We’d never suggest this for sensitive planning schemes, however, for single storey rear extensions or development similar to how a neighbouring has been altered, this is a great way to save some all important time.
5. Building Regulation Compliance
Next comes the process of taking the approved planning information and turning it into detailed construction-ready plans that demonstrate compliance with building regulations (building regs) and, importantly, that can be handed to a builder to start work.
Architect fees vary for creating building regs drawings, depending on the amount of detail and extra information required. Our fully detailed schemes help make the builder’s life easier, avoiding unnecessary (and often, costly) surprises and making for – in our experience – a more efficient process. We’ve built our reputation on providing comprehensive, high-quality and thorough construction information.
We’ll assist and recommend the appointment of a partner structural engineer, co-ordinating their information with ours to ensure the smoothest process possible.
6. Tender/Builder Selection
If you’ve already chosen a builder that you’re happy with, that’s great, we’re happy to work alongside trusted people. However, if you’d like recommendations, we have a list of tried and tested contractors, family-run businesses and leading regional builders we’d trust with our house! If you would like to run a formal tender we can help with that too, just let us know.
7. Starting on site
Some clients like to manage the build themselves, while others prefer us to remain as advisors and support throughout the works. If you’re looking for additional assistance, we can provide a contract administrative role, involving regular site visits to check on progress and quality of work, along with certifying the value of the works completed - meaning you only pay once work is complete or materials are on site. We will also ensure that an snagging is resolved fully before the final bill is paid.