We try to be as clear and concise as possible to guide you through what can be a difficult process. To deliver a project from concept to completion is no mean feat, however, with our experience, professionalism and expertise we take the complexity and stress away from you. By appointing us to deliver your project from concept to completion (stages 0 – 7) we can manage budgets, provide a design that exceeds your expectations and manage the whole process on site. We have broken our services down in to stages similar to that of the RIBA plan of Work. The stages are:-
You can of course undertake some of these roles yourself, however, if you have little or no construction experience we advise you appoint a professional.
We will visit the site and meet with you to discuss the project in further detail. The key purpose of this meeting is to establish the design brief, therefore the more information you can provide us at this stage can help to save time and money later.
Some items for you to consider when looking to appoint an architect or designer:-
Combining our initial assessment of the site, our conversation and your requirements we will put together a quotation for your consideration. Our quote will clearly identify a description of the proposed works and the services required with a breakdown of costs for each stage. We will carry out some initial research and advise if we think your proposals are feasible whether this is cost, time frame or likelihood of obtaining Planning Permission. Other professional consultants will most likely be required and we will advise accordingly. Subject to confirmation of our appointment we will then be able to advise on when we can start the project.
Following confirmation of our appointment we will need to arrange access to the property or site to carry out a measured survey. In some instances we will carry out a measured survey ourselves, where the site or building is more complex we will arrange for a survey company on your behalf. We will always advise on the level of survey required at stage 0. The measured survey will provide us with detailed information of the site, buildings, levels, drainage etc. We will compile all of the survey information to provide existing floorplans, elevations and a section (if required) through the site. Depending on the project we may also require information from the utility companies that identify what services are on or adjacent to the site. For most domestic properties we would use the existing drawings to develop up the concept design. In some instances for commercial developments we my require further input from other professional consultants to check the viability of a site and to establish design parameters.
Once we have assessed the existing building(s) or site and combined with our initial conversation, mood images (if any), we can carefully consider the design. Our initial approach is to have a diagrammatic hand sketch taking in to consideration sun path, views, any overlooking/loss of privacy, circulation/flow etc. Using set requirements from the brief we can quickly establish the priority of the build which helps to compose sketch layouts and design concepts. At this stage we will suggest a design meeting to talk through the proposals, typically we provide sketches – hand drawn or basic CAD plans, mood images and basic 3d visuals if requested. We will raise any potential issues that have come to light and most importantly listen to your feedback. All being well the concept can progress to developed design, however sometimes the concept may have to be developed further to explore further design options and ideas.
The concept can now be developed into proposed floorplans, elevations, sections and if required fully rendered 3d visuals. In some instances, 3d visuals can increase the probability in obtaining planning permission. Planning drawings are outline drawings of the building and whilst they do not contain detailed construction information they do describe the proposed materials, overall dimensions and highlight the difference between existing and proposed. Prior to submission to the council, all design information will be issued to the client for final approval. At this point we would invoice for stages 1-3 and include any expenses to date along with the appropriate planning and admin processing fees. Once we have received the correct fee we will complete the necessary planning application forms and submit together with the planning drawings and any other information required to complete the planning application. The council will confirm when they have received the application and will assess all documents in order to validate the application, this typically takes between 5-10 days. Once the application is validated the council have a statutory period of 8 weeks to determine the application. More complex schemes or major planning applications can take 13 weeks but for the majority of domestic applications this will remain at 8 weeks. Whilst the planning application is live a lot of clients wish to use this time to obtain prices from potential builders/contractors for the works. We do not recommend asking builders for prices at this stage for various reasons which we will come on to.
At this point we hopefully have obtained planning permission. It’s worth mentioning the council could impose planning conditions with the planning consent. These conditions will require further information to be submitted to the council in order for those conditions to be discharged. The same statutory periods would apply, 5-10 days validation with a further 8 weeks to determine if the condition can be approved.
Once the application has been approved we can move on to the Technical Design. Most projects will be required to be designed and constructed in accordance with The Building Regulations. Failure to do so could not only put persons at risk but could also mean you do not have the necessary certificates in order to sell your property. You can read more on the Governments guidelines here.
We offer two different types of technical packages, Building Control and Detailed. Our Building Control package provides basic information in accordance with The Building Regulations. Typically the planning drawings are developed to provide basic building information such as thermal performance of walls, windows, floors roof etc basic setting out dimensions, steelwork (in co-ordination with a Structural Engineer). We recommend this package to builders, clients with numerous building experience or developers for smaller projects. This is our most cost effective service but will not provide detailed information for a builder to build or price from. These drawings can be submitted to building control for a plan check.
We believe the more information provided to the main contractor the better, going back to our previous point when clients ask to obtain prices from builders when the planning application is live.
Firstly, planning approval can not be guaranteed, if a builder is asked to provide a price and planning is refused, the builder may lose interest or they may apply ball park figures which could dramatically change costs once on site. Secondly, as the drawings are only outline or basic plans they do not provide sufficient information for the builder to provide you with an accurate price. This could lead to large unforeseen costs once on site and leave you as the client with an incomplete project. Thirdly, the more information you provide the builder or main contractor, the higher legal protection you have as the client. A building contract will always refer to the information that has been provided to the builder. A builder could quote to provide one type of wall finish or window, but if this does not meet your expectations once on site they would have to provide an alternative quote. At this point there is no incentive for them to be competitive as they already have the project. I would stress that not all builders or contractors are looking to rip clients off, more so if they have not been told what to build then they can not be blamed if the cost of the build increases post quoting for the works.
Our Detailed technical package seeks to eliminate these uncertainties. We can provide electrical layouts, detailed joinery drawings, bathroom and kitchen designs, wall, roof, floor and other construction details etc. By providing these details with finishes, fixtures and fittings all of these items can be used to obtain fixed prices. Also this level of detail helps the contractor to co-ordinate where essential items are going on site. We understand that clients want to try and save money but trying to save money at the design stage could ultimately cost you thousands of pounds and delays once the project is on site. It could also mean not achieving the same desired design aspiration. We can tailor our detailed package to suit your requirements and recommend this level of service to those with little or no previous project experience and more complex design projects.
Rather than approach random contractors we suggest a builder is found through recommendation or more formal pre qualification tender process which may involve a QS for large scale projects.
After checking the suitability of the builder for your project we will package up the planning consent, technical design and any other building information with an invitation to tender. The builder will be requested to provide a detailed itemised quotation, estimated programme for the works and their assumed start date. Depending on the complexity of the project the builder may require additional time to assess the project and obtain prices for specialist items. The tender process could be turned around in 2-3 weeks, the more complex the project the more time will be required to allow the builder to price the project and for the design team to deal with any queries.
Once the builder has completed their pricing and submitted we can assess the tender returns and advise accordingly. Appointing the cheapest builder could mean the project is completed for their quoted price but could incur delays and stress along the way. The same can be said with the most expensive builder does not guarantee a superior finish. By carrying out due diligence checks on the preferred contractor, assigning an appropriate building contract and supplying a detailed tender package can eliminate some the risks that could appear once on site.
Once the preferred contractor has been chosen and price agreed, we can set them up on an appropriate JCT contract. The JCT contract is a verified legal document, completely impartial and protects both parties. If a builder has formed their own contract then I would strongly advise that this contract is not signed as it may not form a legal document or provide you with any protection and be completely bias towards the builder. If a builder does not wish to use a JCT homeowner contract and only use their own I advise you have the contract checked by a qualified solicitor that specialises in Building Law. I would note the cost to pay for a solicitor to check this contract would far out way the cost of a JCT contract which starts at £30.00 excl VAT.
Once the signing of the contract is complete and builder starts on site we can monitor progress, recommend payments and be on hand to resolve any issues or difficulties that may arise. When carrying out a valuation you are only paying for the works completed rather than any monies in advance. If you over pay your builder then there is no incentive for them to return to complete the works and you may find the project is delayed or the builder leaves the project incomplete.
Once the building works have completed we will visit site to form a defects list also known as snagging. We will check with the builder if Gas and electrical certificates have been issued and if Building Control have carried out a final inspection. If building control are satisfied then they will issue a completion certificate confirming the works have been completed in accordance with The Building Regulations. Once the builder has completed the snagging list we will check with the client and ask if all warranties and user manuals have been handed over. We can then issue a Completion Certificate and at this point the final retention money can be released. If any defects arise as a result from the works by the builder (excluding wear and tear) then the client is protected under the JCT contract. The JCT homeowner contract will protect the client for a period of 6 years from completion.
We have a vast array of experience but our area of specialism lies within residential and hotel projects. In some respects the two sectors coincide as we will take design inspiration from hotels and apply them to residential projects. We can provide services for a £70,000 loft conversion or act as lead consultant for £5,000,000 hotel project. We have also completed several office refurbishment and mixed use developments including restaurants, bars and shops.
Just some of the types of projects we cover are:-
Areas we cover
We do take on projects further afield, however, please note the project size needs to be either a new build or extensions of considerable size.