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Guide to Employing an Architect

Guide to Employing an Architect

This is a ‘key points’ guide to employing an architect for a typical residential client.

We hope this explains the steps you’ll take on your journey, but if you would like more detail you can download our free ebook here.

You could also refer to the RIBA’s guidebook ‘Working with an architect for your home‘.

RIBA Stage 0 – Initial Meeting

The first stage is to meet with you. We discuss your needs and wants, look at the building’s use, examine the space you have and the space you want, and how to work with light. We also discuss how to obtain planning permission and of course your budget.

We walk you through some initial ideas and discuss how the project might work – basically explaining the process detailed below. At this stage we want you to understand how you can engage with your architect to make the most of his or her expertise. We won’t usually charge you for this consultation – it’s an essential part of the process.

Before you decide to appoint our practice we’ll send you a formal letter prior to any work commencing. This will outline the project and detail our fee and how this is calculated. We will then just need a letter of appointment before we can proceed.

The next step is then to prepare drawings of your existing property or a site plan. We need these before moving onto the conceptual stages and we can either measure your site and prepare new drawings, or work from those you already have.

RIBA Stage 1 – Feasibility

Following the initial meeting we start building on the early ideas we discussed. We:

  • Assist you in preparing a project brief.
  • Examine the feasibility of your ideas.
  • Analyse your requirements, prepare outline proposals and develop a scheme design.
  • Send proposals to you for your approval.
RIBA Stage 2 – Concepts and Planning Submission

After an appraisal of the feasibility we:

  • Develop the project brief.
  • Develop the scheme in more detail with CAD plans, elevations, sections, sometimes 3d visuals etc
  • Send proposals to you for your approval.
  • Consult with you on the scheme and make one set of changes to accommodate your needs.
  • If required prepare and submit an application for planning permission including a design and access statement
RIBA Stage 3 – Developed or Detailed Design

By now we’ve developed a clear project goal together and you have an understanding of how your project will look when completed.

We now develop a more detailed design from the scheme you’ve already approved. We coordinate any consultants, such as engineers and surveyors, which are needed and integrate their work into your scheme. We start to look in detail at kitchen, bathroom layouts, joinery etc.

We also start to look at the materials you want to use and your ideas for fittings. We have a detailed knowledge of traditional, new and eco-friendly ideas that range from off-the-peg to tailor-made.

Finally, we consult with the statutory authorities on your design proposals.

RIBA Stage 4 – Technical Design and Production Information

This is the final stage before building works commence. It is now that we prepare production information and technical design from which contractors will price and build from. This will include a schedule of works for tendering purposes, and prepare and submit for approvals under building regulations. It will also include detailed service plans (lighting, power and plumbing)

RIBA Stage 3-5 – Tender and Mobilisation

We can work with you to invite tenders from contractors, or we can work with your builder if you already have one. Essentially we are trying to communicate to builders all the work and ideas we have agreed with you so they can give you a price.

It’s your decision on which builder to appoint, but we can advise you here if you wish, ensuring you understand the documents you are asked to sign. We can put forward a number of builders we have worked with previously.

RIBA Stage 5 – Construction / Contract Administration

All the planning is behind us now and it’s down to the hard work of actually building your project.

We administer the terms of the contract and monitor progress against the builder’s programme of works. We also aim to resolve any design queries that arise on site. We report to you regularly so you understand the progress of your project and prepare and certify valuations of work carried out or completed. We also document any changes and additions as they occur.

RIBA Stages 6-7 – Handover and Post Completion

This is the final stage and by now the project is nearly completed. Our job is to ensure the project meets our architect’s exacting standards. We help inspect the works and identify any defects to be put right by the contractor.

When all the work is completed satisfactorily, we issue a ‘Final Certificate to Contractor’ to certify the project is complete.
And that’s it. You now have a beautiful new space to live, work or play in. We typically then ask for feedback and photograph the project for marketing purposes.

In our experience

Employing an architect to design your home is similar to employing a tailor to make your new suit. Make sure you see some samples, and get to know your architect and find out how much relevant experience they have. After all, you wouldn’t ask just any tailor to design a suit you’ll be wearing every day for the next 20 years or more.

Don’t forget to download our free ebook where you fill find this process described in more detail.

Guide to Employing an Architect

This is a ‘key points’ guide to employing an architect for a typical residential client.
We hope this explains the steps you’ll take on your journey, but if you would like more detail you can download our free ebook here. You could also refer to the RIBA’s guidebook 'Working with an architect for your home'.
RIBA Stage 0 – Initial Meeting
The first stage is to meet with you. We discuss your needs and wants, look at the building’s use, examine the space you have and the space you want, and how to work with light. We also discuss how to obtain planning permission and of course your budget. We walk you through some initial ideas and discuss how the project might work – basically explaining the process detailed below. At this stage we want you to understand how you can engage with your architect to make the most of his or her expertise. We won’t usually charge you for this consultation – it’s an essential part of the process. Before you decide to appoint our practice we’ll send you a formal letter prior to any work commencing. This will outline the project and detail our fee and how this is calculated. We will then just need a letter of appointment before we can proceed. The next step is then to prepare drawings of your existing property or a site plan. We need these before moving onto the conceptual stages and we can either measure your site and prepare new drawings, or work from those you already have.
RIBA Stage 1 – Feasibility
Following the initial meeting we start building on the early ideas we discussed. We:
RIBA Stage 2 – Concepts and Planning Submission
After an appraisal of the feasibility we:
RIBA Stage 3 – Developed or Detailed Design
By now we’ve developed a clear project goal together and you have an understanding of how your project will look when completed. We now develop a more detailed design from the scheme you’ve already approved. We coordinate any consultants, such as engineers and surveyors, which are needed and integrate their work into your scheme. We start to look in detail at kitchen, bathroom layouts, joinery etc. We also start to look at the materials you want to use and your ideas for fittings. We have a detailed knowledge of traditional, new and eco-friendly ideas that range from off-the-peg to tailor-made. Finally, we consult with the statutory authorities on your design proposals.
RIBA Stage 4 – Technical Design and Production Information
This is the final stage before building works commence. It is now that we prepare production information and technical design from which contractors will price and build from. This will include a schedule of works for tendering purposes, and prepare and submit for approvals under building regulations. It will also include detailed service plans (lighting, power and plumbing)
RIBA Stage 3-5 – Tender and Mobilisation
We can work with you to invite tenders from contractors, or we can work with your builder if you already have one. Essentially we are trying to communicate to builders all the work and ideas we have agreed with you so they can give you a price. It’s your decision on which builder to appoint, but we can advise you here if you wish, ensuring you understand the documents you are asked to sign. We can put forward a number of builders we have worked with previously.
RIBA Stage 5 – Construction / Contract Administration
All the planning is behind us now and it’s down to the hard work of actually building your project. We administer the terms of the contract and monitor progress against the builder’s programme of works. We also aim to resolve any design queries that arise on site. We report to you regularly so you understand the progress of your project and prepare and certify valuations of work carried out or completed. We also document any changes and additions as they occur.
RIBA Stages 6-7 – Handover and Post Completion
This is the final stage and by now the project is nearly completed. Our job is to ensure the project meets our architect’s exacting standards. We help inspect the works and identify any defects to be put right by the contractor. When all the work is completed satisfactorily, we issue a ‘Final Certificate to Contractor’ to certify the project is complete. And that’s it. You now have a beautiful new space to live, work or play in. We typically then ask for feedback and photograph the project for marketing purposes.
In our experience
Employing an architect to design your home is similar to employing a tailor to make your new suit. Make sure you see some samples, and get to know your architect and find out how much relevant experience they have. After all, you wouldn’t ask just any tailor to design a suit you’ll be wearing every day for the next 20 years or more. Don’t forget to download our free ebook where you fill find this process described in more detail. ×