Do you need an Architect?
If you want the thing to be beautifully designed and carefully considered, the answer is yes! However if you know exactly what you want and simply need someone to draw it up and get it built, a competent building surveyor will suffice. Most of our work comes through recommendation.
Employing an Architect
When you first contact us, it’s helpful for both parties to understand what your requirements and expectations are.
Clients usually contact us to discuss their requirements with a rough idea of their approximate budget. The budget will need to allow for not only construction costs but professional and statutory fees and VAT. We offer the full range of architectural services as set out by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) into various work stages.
We generally arrange to meet you and any others involved (often your family) on site to discuss what you want to achieve. We’ll walk around and consider through any potential issues with the site or building, talk about your own ideas, and often come up with some that you may not have thought of. We’ll give you our outline thoughts on planning, design, budget and timescale, although these can only be indicative at this early stage.
We discuss your aspirations for the project and ask some key questions:
• What are your requirements for rooms and spaces, both inside and out. Do you need extra space? Do you need to replan existing space?
• What is your budget? Costs can be viewed in 2 ways; how much you need to pay to get what you need; and what is the maximum you will get back in terms of house value – we consider both
• What limitations are imposed by the site and existing building?
• What are the constraints imposed by planning policy? We are used to dealing with projects in conservation areas, AONB or Greenbelt. We also work with listed buildings
• What aspects of the garden, views, sun, natural light can be taken advantage of?
• What can you do to save energy ?
At the first meeting we may have some initial thoughts about how we could approach the design of the project. However the objective is not to design the scheme at this stage, but to outline possible design approaches and the tangible benefits they may have.
If you wish to proceed, we will write setting out the terms of appointment and fees. The client will confirm acceptance in writing. From here on fees are chargeable for the time we spend on the project. We prefer to be involved in all aspects of a project, seeing it through from start to completion. However rather than asking you to commit to a full schedule of services at the outset, we split the project work into stages and agree the scope and cost of each stage before we start. You can ask us to stop work at any time
Once we have a thorough idea of your needs and options, we’ll use that critical information to start developing a sketch design. We work in 2D or 3D depending on the project to show you the main design options and how they meet your needs. We also assess the likely construction budget for each and compare that to your financial targets. Having considered the options, you choose one for us to discuss with the planning officer using the “pre-application” process. This is a formal way of discussing the scheme with the planning officer to establish as quickly as possible whether the planning officer will support the design approach you have chosen. At the end of this process it should be clear whether the whole project is feasible so that you can confidently take instruct us to take the project design to the detailed design stage including obtaining detailed planning consent and subsequently prepare the working drawings.
Whilst we lead the building project, other specialists may need to be appointed as the project moves forward. We can advise on the selection of suitable consultants and suppliers as needed and agree their terms of appointment. We review their invoices on behalf of our clients and recommend payments to be made. Typically these might include:
- Measured Building Surveyor (to prepare measured drawings of existing buildings)
- Historic Buildings Surveyor (to provide historic background reports for planning approvals)
- Arboriculturalist (to produce tree surveys for planning)
- Ecologist (for bat and environmental surveys)
- Structural Engineer (to carry out structural calculations for building regulations approval)
We will prepare the necessary planning submission or listed building consent documents addressing all aspects required under local planning requirements. Highways, conservation and environmental issues, amongst others, will be carefully considered by various council departments as well as the general public. All of whom will formulate their own reaction to the application.
Building Control Application
Once planning approval has been granted, we would discuss your requirements in greater detail. This enables us to prepare a schedule of works and add more detail to the proposals. Clear, detailed construction drawings and specifications are invaluable in obtaining competitive prices from contractors. These drawings are submitted for approval by a certified building inspector.
We will advise on suitable builders for your project depending the type and scale of work involved. Estimating construction costs at the outset of a project is a particularly tricky art, as the scope and detail of projects can sometimes change markedly. Good reliable builders are always in demand and there can be often be great variation in tenders submitted. However a thorough specification will be extremely useful in controlling overall costs. Ideally a schedule of work will include all items but we recognise that final decisions may be delayed. We include provisional sums to cover for any missing information.
Assuming that a tender is accepted, we advise on a suitable form of standard building contract for the work to be undertaken. We arrange for checks on insurances. We will manage the building contract on your behalf visiting the site to carry out site inspections. We will prepare monthly valuations and issue certificates as required under the contract. Should any changes be required, for instance by the client or building inspector, or any unforeseen problems arise on older buildings, we will confirm these in written instructions.
We will confirm when work is completed on site and issue a certificate to release a proportion of the money held as retention. After an agreed period, noted within the building contract, we will return to the building to monitor any defects that may have occurred since the works were completed. The builders will be asked to return to rectify these issues. Once any remedial work has been completed to our satisfaction we will then issue a final certificate releasing the closing retention money held.