Our team will be available throughout the commission to discuss any aspect of the project. We like to be transparent, plain speaking and always willing to discuss ideas. For most projects our quotations are on a fixed fee basis so that you can see exactly what payment is required at each stage and we try and add value whenever we can. For some larger and more complex projects we fee on a % of the build cost but we’ll discuss this with at the fee stage.
We can help you make the most of your home and we’ve outlined below the processes involved.
After some initial discussion to check if we are a good fit for your project, we will arrange a consultation with you to discuss your project further. We want to find out about your hopes & dreams for your house and will ask you to tell us about your wishlist of what you’d ideally like to achieve and your thoughts about budget. This meeting forms the basis of the brief for the project. We will then send you a detailed written quotation which breaks down the architectural fee and also lists the fees you will need to pay to any other consultants and local authorities.
Once appointed, we will contact you to arrange a time to come and do a detailed measured survey. This normally takes between 1 and 3 hours depending on the project and allows us to then prepare the ‘as existing plans’ .We strongly believe that time spent ensuring that the existing plans are very accurate saves time and money later on.
Sketch design stage
We use the existing plans to allow us to prepare a series of sketch proposals – unless the project is very simple we prepare a variety of options which can then be used as a basis for discussion about your preferences. This stage is very much a two way process and we are happy to amend and improve the design until we reach a solution you are happy with. We also sometimes involve cost consultants at this stage for advice on the comparative costs of different options, to help you decide which way to proceed. We often use 3d models as a design tool and show you inspiration images to help establish what your style preferences are.
Once we have agreed on a preferred option we can advise whether your project will require Planning Permission and if it does our next step is to discuss the plans with the local planning officer to iron out any difficulties before we make the application. We also advise that you speak to your neighbours so that they are fully aware of your plans before they are notified by the council. Once your planning application has been validated by the Local Authority, meaning they have all the information they require, they have a 2 month period to make their decision. They will notify your neighbours who will have 21 days to comment on the proposals if they wish. The officer will usually visit the property towards the end of that time before reporting their recommendation for approval or refusal.
Detail design and Building Warrant Application
The next stage is to develop the proposals into a detailed design and most projects need a structural engineer for this stage. We can recommend engineers we usually work with or are happy to work with your preferred engineer. They will design the structural aspects of the project such as steelwork, foundations, openings in walls etc. We will work up the architectural drawings to show construction materials, electrics, drainage, kitchen and bathroom layouts and will do u value calculations to establish what insulation is required. We will then submit all this information on your behalf to Building Control with a Building Warrant Application. The Building Control officer will send out a response listing out any queries or additional information required and we will amend drawings as required. The Building Warrant process usually takes at least 6/8 weeks.
Some of our clients prefer to have us on board to get Planning Permission and Building Warrant Approval then obtain quotations and deal with builders on site themselves – this is fine if you have previous experience of building projects.
If you choose to appoint us to get involved with the Tender process we will produce a specification document which details everything you want the builder to include in his quote. It helps to ensure that all the quotations you receive will be on a like for like basis so that prices can easily be compared. We will draw up a list of builders we have worked with previously along with any recommendations you may have. Once tenders have been returned we will assess them with you and help you to make a decision on who to appoint. We will then ensure that you have a proper Building Contract in place and issue project documents to the builder.
We’d also suggest employing the services of a Quantity Surveyor to get good cost advice.
If you would like us to stay involved during the build process, we carry out a full site service for a fixed fee. This would include regular involvement meetings with client and builder, dealing with the local authority on your behalf, answering any queries from the builder, advising on design issues, checking payment requests from builder and administering the building contract.
We appreciate that your project is unique and that lots of homeowners have never undertaken a building project before. Whatever you want to achieve with your home, we can help you through every step of the process.
Karen came up with a design which enable us to achieve a fantastic family living/kitchen space that more than exceeded our expectations in both the design and functionality (in fact the children no longer ask for TV as the enjoy being in the space so much!). The process from the initial plans through to the application for planning permission and building control was easy and straight forward which as a busy working family takes a lot of stress from the situation.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Karen to anyone requiring an architect to improve/build their family home. Her fees are straight forward and there are no hidden costs.
– Kirsty Stevens