Frequently Asked Questions
Compiled here are answers to some of questions that people ask us. To ask a direct question not listed here, please contact us
+ Why do I need an architect?
An architect will be able to take your ideas for a project from your imagination to the drawing board and make your vision concrete. They will be able to create a design which is tailored to you and consider all possible obstacles, including some you may not have been aware of, so that you will hopefully sail through planning permission and move forward to building stage.
An architect will add value to diverse areas of your life. Not only is it very likely that they will increase the value of what is probably your greatest financial asset – your house – but the design they deliver will also add value to your quality of life, sense of wellbeing and emotional attachment to your home.
Their knowledge and expertise can be the making of a project – after all, what they design will be the place you call HOME– so choosing the right architect for you is perhaps one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
+ Why should we choose you?
We provide a high quality service that delivers value for money; we can help you make the most efficient use of your space, we pay careful attention to detail, help you to select the best materials and finishes for your project, and we can create energy efficient buildings which keep your running costs low.
We do much more than simply produce a set of plans. Using our experience, skill and knowledge we can lift your project out of the ordinary and help to create a design that meets all your needs and aspirations. Our professional service gives you freedom from worry. We offer a comprehensive range of architectural services from initial design through to completion of a project on site. Undertaking a building project can be a daunting experience, but we offer over 15 years of professional experience to guide you through this complex process.
We pride ourselves in our client centred approach, our imaginative design flair, our attention to detail and our ability to deliver cost effective solutions to every project.
Please read what our clients think of us.
+ What is your manifesto?
For us, architecture is about people and so our work is always delivered with an acute sense of empathy and pragmatism. Much of our work has a strong humanitarian focus – we are always aware of the positive and progressive values that buildings can deliver to people and communities.
+ Can you advise me prior to purchasing my property?
Yes. We can advise on possible ways to improve the property by alteration, conversion or extension. This helps our clients understand the full potential of the property they are considering and informs their decision on whether the home is likely to meet all their requirements. We can also give you some basic guidance on the likely costs of the work required. We charge £75+VAT an hour for this service.
+ How do you charge for your service?
We charge our clients on a lump sum basis (exclusive of VAT). This lump sum fee is then broken down into separate key stages, as per RIBA guidelines, to reflect the different nature of the work involved at various points in the design and build process. These include:
- Submission of planning permission to the appropriate planning authority
- Production of technical designs
- Tender services
- On-site services
Lump sum fee proposals are most appropriate when the scope of design and build work is clearly defined from the very beginning. A lump sum fee arrangement will also give you a sense of certainty and peace of mind that the overall cost of your project will not increase (unless the time scale, size or estimated cost of the project is subject to any major fluctuations, in which case the lump sum fee may need to be adjusted accordingly).
A lump sum fee proposal will normally be put forward following an initial consultation with you to discuss the scope and value of your project. All services to be included in the lump sum agreement will be defined at the outset and any other additional work and services required, but not included and defined in the lump sum agreement, will be charged at an additional cost—this includes any out of pocket expenses.
We also provide an interior design service priced at 3% of the total construction costs. We do not work on commission, so all trade discounts received would be transferred to the client in full.
+ As I have a very limited budget, why should I pay you so much?
The fee we charge relates to the amount of work we will have to do. By reducing the scope of our services we may be able to reduce the fee but this could increase the risk to you. In our experience clients save on project cost by getting the design right before starting construction and not changing things during the build. Very often it turns out that this saving is greater than the amount clients spend on architects’ fees.
+ Does your fee include other costs, e.g. other consultant’s fees, statutory fees?
No, we can provide an indication of these costs but they do not form a part of our fee.
+ What will happen in the initial consultation?
At the initial consultation we will visit your property and meet with you to discuss in detail your requirements. We take time to understand the brief that you have in terms of the space requirements, the style of design you envisage and your budget for the works. The more information you can give us, the better we can understand your brief.
We will explain the design process, the statutory applications needed for your particular project and the building process. We will also agree with you which of our services you require. Following the consultation, we will prepare a detailed quotation for your consideration.
To make full use of the consultation please come prepared to discuss your budget, goals and needs, at your initial consultation. All of these issues are essential in determining what kind of project is structurally and financially feasible.
+ What is your availability?
We can take on a project usually within 5 working days.
+ How do I write a brief?
The ultimate success of your project depends on the quality of your brief, i.e. your ability to describe clearly to your architect the requirements and functions of your building, and proposed methods of operation and management. It is wise to ask your architect to assist you in preparing a final brief. Your architect will need to know:
- Your aims
- Your budget
- Your design style: are you looking for a design in keeping with the existing building? Do you want a contemporary or high-tech design? Are you concerned about having a sustainable or ecological design?
- Your reasons for embarking on this building project: what activities are intended for it?
- Your authority: who will make the decisions about the designs, costs and construction when the project is underway?
- Your overall expectations: what do you hope to achieve by this project - more space, more light, variety of uses, greater flexibility?
+ What services do you offer?
We offer full architectural services: From initial feasibility and appraisal, through the planning process including listed building consent, to design, construction (where we act as contract administrators) and completion. In every case, we seek to establish a close, collaborative relationship with our clients.
As part of an evolving design process, the team will rigorously interrogate a given brief, exploring and evaluating ideas, concepts and details to identify innovative design solutions. The results often go beyond expectation, whether it be through spatial logistics or by fusing a sensitivity to people’s practical needs with subtle, understated aesthetics. Our architecture resolves challenging layouts creatively, delivering pragmatic and clever designs that maximise space to its full potential.
We also offer interior design services. We do not work on commission, so any trade discount we receive we would transfer them in full to the client.
+ Will we need any other professionals on the project?
The size and complexity of your project will determine what other professionals will need to be involved. We can suggest and arrange a suitable team to guide your project forward.
+ What are the stages of work you follow?
We follow the RIBA plan of work, a copy of which you can download here
+ How far would you travel?
For the right project, distance isn’t an issue.
+ Do I need Planning Permission?
For domestic properties, planning consent mainly relates to either changes in the external appearance such as an extension or to changes to the use of a building such as the conversion of a derelict steading into a dwelling. Planning should not be confused with the Building Warrant which is entirely separate application.
Planning Permission and the details of the current local plan policy need to be given consideration from the start. Whether a project gains Planning approval is solely in the remit of the local council, however, we can advise you on the possibilities and restrictions imposed by current planning policy and we can guide you to a design solution which is most likely to gain consent.
Planning policy does develop over time. A common misconception is that because other houses in the street have, for instance, dormer window extensions, this will automatically mean that yours will be allowed. This is not always the case as current planning policy may have changed. For small extensions and alterations, your proposals may fall within your Permitted Development Rights which means that planning permission will not be necessary. We will be able to advise you of this on an initial consultation. Planning Permission, once granted, is usually valid for 3 years. You will have three years in which to begin your development form the date of consent.
+ How long will the design process take?
This really depends on the size and complexity of the project. Every project is unique and would have its own parameters. However, for most small to medium, straightforward domestic projects we allow around 4-6 weeks to produce a design in close consultation with you. Once a planning application has been submitted to the local Planning Department, you ought to have a decision within 8-10 weeks of registration of the application. However, many factors can delay this process, for example, if complex consultations are required or objections to the proposals are received by the Council.
The detail design stage can take between 4-12 weeks depending on the scale of the project. We work with a private building inspector who can sign off drawings within a few days to enable a quick start on site. Thereafter, the programme for progressing your project will depend on the availability of suitable contractors to carry out the work. Once you have a contractor ready to start, most small to medium domestic projects take around 16-20 weeks to complete.
As soon as we are appointed, we will draw up a schedule for your project and the various work stages. Depending on the complexity of your project we will explain how long each stage will take and set targets for their completion.
+ How much will my project cost?
The cost of a building project is extremely difficult to predict particularly before it is fully designed. There are many factors which affect the price such as geographic location, size, scope and complexity of the work, amount of structural work involved, and level of specification required. We will be in a better position to give you an idea of costs once you have discussed what you would like to achieve, and we have seen what is involved.
+ What if I change my mind?
Changes are a natural part of the design process. We actively encourage you to consider a range of alternatives during the project development to avoid later "if only we'd have...." moments. It costs nothing to rub out a pencil sketch, but changes after construction always cost time and money.
+ Can I have this all finished by Christmas?