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Architectural projects can seem complex. This simple guide will explain the steps taken to design your project and get it built. The aim is to help you understand some of the language we use, in order to help you have a conversation with us at each step of your journey.

Appraisal(RIBA 0)

An appraisal is an initial high level look at the entire project to find out what you are ultimately trying to achieve and whether your proposal is feasible. It will include some or all of the following: 

  • Brief - your description of the types of buildings or spaces you need and the special qualities you desire 
  • Budget - an initial idea of the costs you are aiming for or our assessment of what costs you can expect
  • Planning - our thoughts on how to achieve a successful planning or listed building consent
  • Design - we may undertake some initial high level designs to explore how the scheme can work
  • Delivery - how you expect to build the project or your options
  • Appearance - building character & style, materials etc. 
  • Programme - the timescales for each stage of your project and whether this may be phased
  • Sustainability - to determine aspirations for a building’s environmental performance and sustainability targets

The appraisal will ultimately help us understand where your time, quality and cost priorities lie. It will give you a guide to the feasibility of the project and set us up for the next steps.

Approach Architects appraisal
Approach Architects surveys v2

Surveys(RIBA 1)

To achieve a well thought out design and to assist with the future detailing of the project, we require a number of surveys to be completed. Some of these surveys are a requirement of planning. We will arrange competitive quotes from other consultants, which would be appointed directly by you.

Some of these consultants could include:

  • Measured building Surveyor
  • Ecologist
  • Arboriculturalist
  • Archaeologist/Building Historian
  • Structural Engineer
  • Quantity Surveyor

We may suggest other specialist surveyors are required depending on the project.

Concept(RIBA 2)

At concept stage, we will:

  • Identify the principal ideas for the design which are influenced by context and your initial brief.
  • Prepare sketches and diagrams of the concept scheme.
  • Show you precedents of materials, scale and design.
  • Present the ideas to you in the form of a booklet for further discussions.
  • Assess the pros and cons of each of the options, balancing the aims of the brief against assessment of planning restraints and cost.

We may share this with you in a private discussion and then with the planning/conservation officers for pre-application advice, to understand the likely outcome of a planning application.

Approach Architects concept sketch
Approach Arcihitects planning

Planning(RIBA 3)

At this stage, the sketches set out in the concept stage are developed into design drawings ready to be submitted to your local authority for planning permission. This could include:

  • Existing and proposed drawings.
  • Visuals or models to enable both the client and planner to visualise the finished project.
  • Other supporting documents in the form of design reports, heritage statements, technical statements
  • Reports by your other consultants

We will submit all of these documents with the planning forms. Once submitted the decision period should be 8 or 13 weeks but can take much longer with some councils. We will monitor progress of your application and be in contact with you if more information or changes are needed. This additional attention gets us a very high success rate for planning consents.

At this stage you may also want us to arrange a Quantity Surveyor to provide a detailed assessment of the costs to build your project, which will inform the next stage.

Technical(RIBA 4)

At this stage we will develop technical information to obtain building regulations approval for the project or enable a contractor to accurately cost the building.

We will guide you through the process where we aim to:

  • Maintain the principles of the original design brief and planning permissions.
  • Convert the planning drawings to construction drawings. This will provide sufficient detail for a contractor to price and construct the project. This will include detailed specifications, construction notes and schedules.
  • Meet Building Regulation requirements and other legal hurdles.
  • Advise on the pros and cons of different materials, ways of servicing the building, maintenance and safety.

We break this down into 3 stages: Building Regulations, Production Information and Tender. We will tender a contract to at least four local contractors to provide you with their costs and report our findings back to you. If necessary we can negotiate and revise this contract to meet your needs.

Approach Architects technical design
Approach Architects construction phase

Construction(RIBA 5)

Once a Contractor has been appointed we will administer the terms of the building contract and overview the quality and progress of the work.

This will involve regular site visits and meetings with the contractor to ensure the work is being executed in accordance with the contract documents.

Key to getting this right is good, clear communication. Most contractors will have an in-house site agent/project manager to answer any questions and to ensure the project runs on time.

We work closely with contractors and clients to form a good relationship so you can enjoy this challenging process as much as possible.

Handover & Completion(RIBA 6 & 7)

Once the contractor feels they have completed the project, we would visit to inspect and provide snagging lists for the builder to complete to our satisfaction, ensuring the work meets the level of quality demanded by the contract. We will also provide any documents to sign off with Building Control and at this stage sign off Practical Completion. This allows you finally to take possession of your completed building.

We will also coordinate the gathering of all the building’s manuals and handover documents into one file referred to as the Operations and Maintenance Manual (O&M Manual).

At this stage a sum of money will be held back by you for a year - the rectification period. This is held to resolve any issues arising during this first year that are the contractors responsibility. At the end of this year we will settle the final account with the builder where our involvement can help achieve a satisfactory conclusion of the account and completion of the build.

Approach Architects completion

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