The Design Process
Shape Architecture is a Chartered RIBA practice with considerable expertise in private residential architecture of all types and size and is able to answer any questions you may have regarding your proposed project. We are happy to visit you at your property to discuss your plans and make no charge for this visit.
How do I employ an architect to design my residential project?
Typically a new client will phone or email our practice or complete our contact firm on the website. A practice Director will then arrange to visit you at your property to discuss your project, understand the site and explain the process and answer any questions that you may have.
Following this the Director will write to you and email the letter as a PDF file to you.
Our services and fees proposal letter will set out our understanding of the extent of works required ‘ an outline of the brief ‘. We will set out the services we can offer in accordance with the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) plan of work which will set out all activities according to a logical sequence.
We will set out the associated fee. This will be a Fixed Lump Sum plus vat. The fee will be divided into each section of work so if you wish to stop or postpone our activities it is clear what we have done and what the fee for that section of work is. Our terms and conditions are appended to this letter alongside a form to sign and email back to us and this acts as our instruction.
We are then contacted by email to state that the application had been downloaded by the Local Authority and will be processed in their normal timescale. They will take between 5 and 10 working days to validate the application. Once validated we will be given an anticipated decision date and this is 8 weeks from the validation date and also the name and contact details of our Case Officer plus the Planning Reference number we have been allocated.
Once planning permission has been granted we will start on the detailed and technical design of the project. This will enable the building to be priced and built and any other submissions such as an application for Building Regulation approval to be submitted.
The technical design phase will also require the involvement of a structural engineer to size and specify elements of structure. Various projects also require the support of other consultants depending on their size and complexity and these can range from Services Engineers to Lighting Designers and Audio Visual Consultants. In all instances Shape Architecture can obtain quotes from those consultants we work with and following appointment we will liaise with them and incorporate their work into our drawings were necessary
In this period our architectural drawings will include large scale floor plans and larger scale construction details. We will also draw heating, lighting and electrical layouts. Bathrooms, WC’s and Utility Rooms will each be drawn with a large scale floor plan and elevations of each wall to ensure co-ordination of tiling, fixtures and fittings etc. We will also design and draw elements such as stairs and kitchens.
Once this detailed pack is complete and the structural engineers information and that of other consultants is fed back in then we write a schedule of works which is the key pricing document for the competitive tender process and will itemise every element from structural concrete to door handles and hinges.
Shape Architecture then runs the tender process on behalf of our Client. We will typically invite around five Contractors to tender and the list is formed from those Contractors that we know well to others that the Client wishes to add.
During the tender process we will answer any questions that the Contractor may raise and organise visits to the property.
Every month the Contractor will submit his valuation in order to be paid. We will inspect the works accordingly and prepare an Architects Certificate against which the Client pays the Contractor. Each Certificate has a retention sum, typically 5% deducted from the Contractors Valuation.
During the Construction process it is likely that the Contractor will raise questions and these might for example be whether he could use a different form of insulation whereupon we will compare his proposal to the performance of the item specified and comment accordingly.
As the project progresses towards its completion we will agree with the Contractor a snagging regime whereby we as architects are handed over completed floors and we then write a detailed snagging list pointing out all areas where snagging work is required and these might range from paint splashes on ironmongery to roughly finished door architraves.
How do we Start?
The first activity is our undertaking of a digital survey where one or two members of staff will visit your property and measure inside and outside. From this we will draw up the measured survey which will include plans, sections and elevations. We will also purchase the Ordnance Survey plan for your street in digital form. These drawings are the starting point for all follow on work and also a requirement of any planning submission.
The measured survey is sent to you as a PDF brochure.
The next stage in any private residential project is the commencement of design work. Having established the brief Shape Architecture will preside a series of design options for discussion with the Client. Each option will be explored in 2D and 3D computer modelling in order to best explain the proposals. We will produce a Concept Proposals brochure and issue by email on PDF. Then once receive and digested Shape Architecture Director will visit you at your property to discuss the designs and see what is liked what is not.
Thereafter we will revisit our design on the basis of this discussion and progress towards a firmer preferred design.
The agreed design, signed off by our client is then put together in a format suitable for a planning submission with the addition of all the required supporting reports.
Shape Architecture will write the Design and Access Statement and also the Flood Risk Assessment if required. We will check the Environment Agency maps to establish the flood zone that the property is in.
Applications for Basement Extensions will require further material in support of the application such as a Construction Methodology Statement which will be prepared by a Structural Engineer. We will obtain quotes for this service from Engineers with whom we work. Other reports such as Construction Traffic Management Plans and Arboroculturalist reports are required for various applications in various planning authorities and in all instances Shape Architecture can obtain quotes from the relevant consultants we work with and liaise with each on behalf of our Client.
Shape Architecture will make the planning submission on behalf of the Client using the Planning Portal Website. We will also pay the planning fee online in the first instance for ease which is then charged as a disbursement. The fee for a Householders Application is typically £172.
Once all tenders are received we then form a table of all responses to enable detailed comparisons to be made and issue a tender report to our Client highlighting strengths and weaknesses in each tender return. We will also seek clarifications and the firming up of prices from the Contractors.
The tender return will also declare the programme length and we will provide access to our Client to previous clients of each Contractor and works that they have completed. It is on this basis that most informed decisions can be made.
On selecting the preferred Contractor Shape Architecture will purchase and fill out the building contract for signing between the Client and Contractor. We will collate all insurance details from the Contractor and agree the damages figure to be written into the Contract.
Prior to starting on site we will also have notified Building Control and submitted our project for approval. We will also notify the HSE ( Health and Safety Executive ) of the site start.
A Party Wall award will also have been put in place and Shape Architecture will have obtained quotes for this service for the Client and have liaised with the Party Wall surveyor as required.
The project then progresses to a start on site.
During the Construction period we will visit site on a regular basis and provide a Site Visit Report following each visit. Every month we will hold a Site Progress Meeting to an agenda for all parties to attend and this meeting is minuted by the architect.
We will also ensure that the Contractor has collated all operation instructions and warrantees appropriate to the project and presented these in an A4 folder for the Clients information and record.
We will also ensure that the Contractor has obtained a written sign off from Building Control.
The project is then at Practical Completion and half of the retention sum, typically 2.5 % of the Contract Sum can be paid to the Contractor. The remaining half is issued at a period typically 3-6 months after practical completion. During this period we expect any cracking or other such issues would have become obvious and can be dealt with.