Planning a new build or changes to a existing building can come with a whole host of questions. Whilst each project is bespoke, here are some frequently asked questions that are useful to read through before beginning the journey
Why do I need an Architect?
Employing someone to design or remodel and build your most valuable asset is likely to be a nerve racking experience. Unless your project is very simple it makes sense to at least talk to an architect for advice before you get going.
Architects are highly skilled and professionally trained to turn your aspirations into reality. They will guide you through the design, planning and construction process whether you are constructing a new building or adapting an existing property.
If you need planning permission then it is likely that you will need an architect.
What does an Architect do?
The first thing an architect will do is ask questions, listen and understand what you are trying to achieve.
They will work with you to develop your project brief and finalise the budget. It is essential that you agree this between you before starting the project.
A good architect will develop solutions and propose ways to reduce costs whilst coming up with a design that will increase the building’s value.
They’ll guide you through a whole range of processes – from coming up with an initial design to seeing the project through planning and construction to completion.
What happens at the Initial Consultation?
We are happy to meet for a one-off consultation, either at your property or in our office, depending on the project location. This will give you guidance on all aspects of your project from design and cost through to planning and construction. In a short space of time you can gain an enormous amount of valuable information which will help you realise your project.
How much do you charge for the Initial Consultation?
We do not charge for all initial consultations, this will be determined by the location and scope of the project. Any charges will be agreed in advance of any meeting and will be on the basis of a time charge plus expenses. Our usual hourly rate that applies to time charges is £100+vat.
How far would you travel?
Our office is located in central Chichester; we are happy to consider projects within a 50 mile radius. However depending on the scope of the project we are very willing to discuss projects outside our preferred geographical area.
How are your fees calculated?
Our fees will vary depending on the location and complexity of the project and the level of service expected. In most circumstances we will charge you on the basis of a fixed price lump sum or on a time charge basis.
How much or how little you commission us to do is up to you – from coming up with an initial design to seeing the project through to completion.
When do I need Planning Permission?
If you want to build something new or make a major change to your building you will probably need planning permission.
Many simple, domestic extensions are considered to be permitted development; whilst they don’t require Planning Permission we would recommend applying for a Lawful Development Certificate to ensure you can sell your house in the future without any costly delays.
There are different planning restrictions for designated areas such as Conservation Areas and if your property is listed, for which formal planning consent is required.
Do I need any other permissions?
Whether you need planning permission or not, your building work still needs to comply with building regulations, for your safety, to improve the energy efficiency of your home (and reduce bills) and to ensure you can sell your house in the future without any costly delays.
You also need to be aware that if you have a shared party wall with your neighbour, you may require a party wall agreement.
Will we need any other professionals on our project?
Every project is different and has varying requirements. We will advise you of any other consultants that you may require. It’s more than likely that a Structural Engineer will be required. Most projects will require a Principal Designer CDM 2015 to meet the requirements of the regulations that manage health, safety and welfare of construction projects. We are able to provide this service for an additional fee.
Can you explain the process?
This is an outline of the services that we can provide. Full details of the services along with the terms and conditions will be specific to your project. They will be itemised and agreed with you.
You can commission us for any of the stages you need for your project.
The RIBA’s ‘Plan of Work 2013’ sets out the key stages of a construction project from conception to completion – https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/resources-landing-page/riba-plan-of-work
Stage 1 – Feasibility Study
This is the most important part of the project and where we can add the most value. We will undertake some preliminary appraisals to assess the options and feasibility of the project. This can range from a sketch design solution to a full feasibility study and will enable you to decide on the best way forward. We will identify the need for any approvals and other consultants, most commonly a structural engineer.
Stage 2 – Concept Design
Using the initial project brief we will develop outline proposals. We will present a number of initial concepts for you to choose from. The final design brief should reflect your aspirations and provide you with a home that adds value and improves your quality of life.
Stage 3 – Spatial Coordination
We will spend more time at this stage transforming ideas into something that can be built. This includes coordinating the work of other consultants into the designs. Once agreed, the design proposals will then be submitted for planning approval, if required.
Stage 4 – Technical Design
We will now prepare the technical drawings and a specification that will be used to price the tender and construct the building. We will then invite and appraise tenders from builders and administer the building contract on your behalf.
Stage 5 – Construction
Throughout the construction phase, we will administer your contract with the builder, carry out regular inspections, deal with queries, instruct any additional work required, monitor progress on site, keep track of cost, value the works and certify payments due to the builder. When the project is ready to hand over we will inspect and value the works and issue a certificate.
Stage 6 – Defects Liability Period
The architect will be available after handover and during any defects period to arrange for certifying the final payment.
How long will it take?
The duration of a project will vary depending on the complexity of the project. We will provide clear guidance from the outset as to how long we expect a project will take.
Do you work on Listed Buildings?
Given the location of our office in the historic city of Chichester many of our projects have involved Listed Buildings as well as being located in Conservation Areas. We also work extensively in the Chichester Harbour AONB and the South Downs National Park.
Can you manage the project?
We will usually act as the lead designer – the consultant that directs the work of the Design Team. We will be the main point of contact for communication between you and the Design Team. Once on site, we will administer the building contract on your behalf. At this stage we expect the builder to manage the project – everything from ordering materials to arranging labour and ensuring Building Control sign off.
Do you know any good builders?
We will recommend the builder appropriate for your project and monitor the construction stage; we will also do our best to ensure that the project is finished on time and within the agreed budget.