For most projects, we would normally group RIBA Stages into three major steps;
Stage 0-3 – Design and Planning
Stage 4 – Technical Design and Tender Stage
Stage 5-7 – Construction and Handover
This makes it possible for us to provide a seamless service at each level, makes fee calculations easier, and enables clients to take on each stage independently based on the risks involved and the available budget.
Stage 1: Strategic Definition, Preparation & Brief
By meticulously following this structured approach, we lay the groundwork for a successful project that aligns with your vision and exceeds your expectations.
In the initial stage of your project journey we lay the foundation for success. It all begins with a strategic definition, where we engage in a comprehensive conversation with you, delving into your ideas, budget constraints, and timeframes, among other considerations. Through this dialogue, we jointly identify your project's objectives and establish quality benchmarks, including sustainability aspirations and budget constraints.
To ensure we have an accurate starting point, we conduct detailed surveys, capturing the existing layout of your property down to the finest detail. These surveys become the basis for our design proposal. Feasibility studies follow, where we explore various options with you, weighing the pros and cons to arrive at a strategic brief that guides the project's direction.
Our preparation process encompasses three crucial elements:
1. Measured Survey:
To build an accurate 3D model of your existing site and structures, we conduct a Measured Survey. Depending on your project's specifics, this may involve a 2D CAD survey or a 3D laser scan survey. We'll provide you with suitable quotes, and once decided, either appoint the surveying company directly or assist you in doing so.
2. 3D BIM Model:
Leveraging the data from the Measured Survey, we construct a comprehensive and precise 3D model of your site using Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology. This model becomes a central reference throughout every project stage, facilitating the generation of drawings, schedules, and specifications.
3. Briefing Process:
During this stage, we conduct in-depth interviews with all individuals who will reside in the completed home. These discussions delve into every requirement and aspiration, ensuring that your project becomes a true reflection of your unique vision and lifestyle.
As we transition from RIBA Stage 0 - Strategic Definition to RIBA Stage 1 - Preparation and Brief, we further refine the project brief with a focus on gathering site information, feasibility studies, and initial risk assessments. We also develop a sustainability strategy and offer insights into project costs and procurement routes. Additionally, we assemble a dedicated design team with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
Stage 2: Concept Design
Concept Design marks a pivotal phase in our collaborative journey, where your project comes to life through creativity, detailed planning, and a commitment to bringing your vision to reality.
As we progress to the second major phase of our journey, the initial design concepts start to take shape, responding directly to your project brief. This is where creativity flourishes, and the first design visualisations come to life. Our designs, enriched by the insights gathered during the feasibility study, are thoughtfully tailored to your needs and aspirations.
During this stage, we may collaborate with specialist consultants, such as structural engineers, environmental building services engineers, or cost consultants, to ensure every aspect of your project is meticulously considered. These early designs serve as the foundation upon which we build, offering you various options that are discussed and adapted in meetings and workshops, ensuring your vision is fully realised.
Additionally, we begin outlining the structural and building services strategies, along with an initial specification. These crucial details are integral to project planning and may influence the project cost plan. Furthermore, we remain open to Research & Development opportunities, exploring technological advancements and innovative materials that could enhance the project's overall quality and efficiency.
At this stage, our design journey evolves into a dynamic process, as we bring ideas to life through 3D models and drawings. Our frequent meetings, held every fortnight, provide you with opportunities to review and refine the evolving designs, ensuring they align with your vision. We also develop the construction strategy, presenting you with an outline architectural proposal, an initial specification, and preliminary costings.
Throughout the Concept Design phase, we maintain a close relationship with planning authorities. If required, we may seek pre-application advice to streamline the planning permission process, ensuring a smoother path forward.
Innovative and interactive design meetings form a central part of this stage. Within a 3D virtual environment, we explore the proposed scheme, discussing comments, and making live adjustments to test ideas and suggestions. Following each meeting, we provide you with a comprehensive review of all discussed information. Based on your feedback, we refine and expand the scheme, continuously enhancing its alignment with your aspirations.
This stage encompasses three key steps:
We transform the high-definition brief developed during the Preparation stage into an illuminating 3-dimensional simulation. Together, we explore this virtual environment, ensuring a shared understanding and interpretation of the brief.
Building upon the abstract simulation, the scheme takes concrete shape. Architectural elements emerge, designed to enhance the desired relationships between spaces while accommodating daily activities.
With the scheme's special qualities established and agreed upon, we delve into the selection of materials. Sustainability, style, budget, and planning restrictions all play a role in our material choices. We believe that architecture should complement life, not overshadow it, opting for materials in their honest, natural state.
Stage 3: Developed Design
Developed Design represents a pivotal phase where your project's vision comes to life, aligning with regulatory requirements and setting the stage for the next steps in bringing your dream to reality.
As we transition to Stage 3 - Developed Design, our journey continues with a focus on turning the agreed-upon concept design into a comprehensive and coordinated plan. At this stage, the design is finalised, and it is crucial for obtaining the necessary Local Authority permissions.
Our team diligently develops the design in response to inputs from specialist consultants, integrating their expertise into the project alongside insights gained through formal pre-application consultations. The design solutions generated during this phase address your specific concerns and align with your original aspirations as documented in the project brief while adhering to planning policy requirements.
We work tirelessly to ensure that your design not only meets your vision but also captures the essential third-party inputs essential for validating a planning application, if needed. If planning is indeed required, we take the lead in preparing and collating all the necessary information, formally submitting it to the local authority on your behalf. This submission includes crucial documents such as a Design and Access Statement or Heritage Statement, ensuring a comprehensive planning application.
Our commitment to transparency and clarity is unwavering, with detailed 2D design drawings, including plans, sections, and elevations, helping you visualize the project. Furthermore, we utilise 3D modeling and Virtual Reality to explore both the internal and external aspects of the proposal. These tools provide you with a clear understanding of how your future home will look, even before construction begins.
Additionally, we take care of the management of the planning process, including applications, and engage external consultants as needed to support the successful progression of your project.
Furthermore, we recognise that navigating the complex landscape of UK planning regulations, especially in Greater London, can be daunting. We understand the intricate maze of policies, standards, and regulations and have maintained an outstanding track record in securing planning permissions.
Throughout the Planning stage, we handle all aspects of preparing and submitting the required drawings and documentation for planning permission. We liaise closely with local council Case Officers, ensuring your project's best interests are represented. Depending on the nature of your proposed scheme and local planning restrictions, we may also advise seeking pre-planning advice before a full planning application is submitted.
Stage 4: Technical Design
Technical Design marks the bridge between concept and construction, where meticulous planning and attention to detail ensure your project not only meets regulations but also reflects your vision with precision and excellence.
As we progress into Stage 4 - Technical Design, the focus shifts towards the meticulous details that will bring your project to life while ensuring compliance with Building Regulations. At this juncture, our goal is to make your building perform optimally. We compile the necessary information for submission to building control, utilities companies, and party wall surveyors, where applicable.
Upon receiving conditional building control approval, we prepare the design for the tendering process, inviting contractors to bid for the construction phase. Our approach involves short-listing a selection of reputable contractors, and together, we conduct interviews to identify the best fit while assessing tender returns. This collaborative approach ensures the right contractor is chosen, setting the stage for a successful construction phase.
Our Stage 4 journey entails:
1. Technical Design:
With the approved design as our foundation, we develop a comprehensive technical package of information. This package is essential for securing the next Local Authority approval - Building Control. It also serves as the basis for creating a tender package that invites competitive quotes from contractors eager to undertake the project. We guide you through the process of evaluating all quotes, making appointments, and drawing up contracts. As Contract Administrators, we finalise all necessary pre-construction preparations before commencing work on-site.
2. Detailed Drawings and Specifications:
Once you're satisfied with the design, we shift our focus to producing detailed drawings, specifications, and a schedule of works. These meticulous documents form the basis for a competitive tendering process involving 3 to 4 contractors. This allows you to make informed comparisons and select the most suitable contractor offering the best value for your project.
3. Collaboration and Interactive Design:
Throughout this stage, we engage in a highly interactive and collaborative process. We delve into the intricacies of material finishes, select kitchen and bathroom fixtures and fittings, and design specialized features and built-in joinery items. Mechanical, electrical, and lighting schemes are developed in close collaboration with our clients. Design meetings come to life with immersive real-time 3D visualizations, where you can explore the proposed scheme with realistic materials and lighting conditions. The flexibility to adjust the model in real time fosters a dynamic and exciting design process.
Building on the approved Detail Design, we collaborate with other consultants to develop the Technical Design. We create a comprehensive drawing set containing all the information needed for accurate pricing and the selection of the main contractor. This stage also involves issuing specifications, covering best practices, compliance, and quality control. The selection of the main contractor marks the conclusion of this stage, paving the way for the realisation of your project.
Stage 5: Construction
Construction represents the culmination of your project's journey, where meticulous oversight, regular site visits, and adherence to contract standards ensure the successful realisation of your vision, leaving you with a beautifully executed space.
Stage 5 - Construction signifies the phase where the selected contractor embarks on turning your project vision into a tangible reality. Throughout this stage, the architect plays a pivotal role in ensuring the project's successful execution. Our commitment is unwavering, as we stand ready to answer queries and inspect the work as it progresses, with regular site visits serving as a cornerstone of our involvement.
Our role during this stage adapts to the chosen procurement route. In a traditional procurement route, we act as contract administrators, overseeing critical tasks such as tendering the project, preparing contract documents, issuing instructions and payment certificates, and identifying defects. This multifaceted approach ensures that your project is managed with precision and adherence to the highest standards.
Specifically, during the Construction Stage:
1. Site Visits:
We conduct one site visit per week throughout the construction contract period. These visits are instrumental in the proper administration of the building contract, allowing us to monitor progress, ensure compliance with drawings and specifications, and verify payments against completed work.
2. Final Documentation:
Upon the project's completion, we diligently produce the final documentation. This documentation streamlines the handover process from the contractor to you, ensuring a seamless transition.
3. Ongoing Monitoring:
Building work commences, and our design takes shape. We administer the building contract, conducting regular site visits to monitor progress, assure quality, and align the work with our meticulously crafted drawings and specifications. We maintain close communication with contractors, ensuring that you pay only for high-quality work delivered on schedule.
4. Contract Preparation:
Once the main contractor is chosen, and the final contract sum is negotiated and agreed upon, the building contract is meticulously prepared and signed. We recommend using a standard form of building contract appropriate to your project's size, typically from contracts published by the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) or Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT).
5. Monthly Valuation:
Regular site visits continue throughout the construction phase, enabling us to inspect the works and confirm that the project adheres to the contract. The contractor receives additional instructions, information, and drawings as needed. Monthly valuations assess the work completed on-site, determining the appropriate portion of the contract sum to release for payment.
6. Rectification Period:
Upon the project's completion, as you transition into your new home, a rectification period begins. This period allows the structure to settle, and any minor latent defects that may arise during this time are addressed.
Stage 6: Handover & In Use
We don't just hand over the keys and disappear; we remain available to address any questions or provide advice you may need. We value staying in touch with our clients to learn about their experiences and interactions with the new home we've created together. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that your new space brings lasting enjoyment and functionality.
Stage 6 & 7 - Handover & In Use signifies the transition from the construction phase to the post-construction phase, where the focus is on ensuring your project reaches its full potential and you enjoy your new space to the fullest.
1. Handover (Stage 6):
Handover occurs at the conclusion of the building contract, a significant milestone in the project's lifecycle. It marks the moment when the contractor rectifies any defects, ensuring that the building meets the criteria for Practical Completion as outlined in the contract drawings and documentation. During this phase, a sum of money may be retained for a period ranging from 6 to 12 months to cover any potential defects that may arise, which the contractor is responsible for rectifying. Once all these details are sorted, the building contract is formally concluded, and you can begin to fully enjoy your new space.
2. Close Out:
As construction wraps up, we conduct final inspections and address any remaining issues, ensuring that everything is in order. We collaborate closely with the Quantity Surveyor to handle the final accounting aspects of the project. Our commitment to your satisfaction doesn't end with construction; we regularly check in with you to make sure you're delighted with your new home.
3. In Use (Stage 7):
The In Use stage extends our service into the post-occupancy phase, offering an aftercare service to clients while gathering post-occupancy feedback, which is invaluable to us as architects. Our services in this stage may include monitoring the building's energy performance and providing guidance on optimising building services to align with sustainability strategies. We aim to ensure that your new space continues to perform optimally, meeting your needs and expectations.