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Project stages

Initial Consultation

An initial consultation is performed to listen to your ideas, discuss different options and assess what is possible, taking into account planning constraints, technical issues and budget. After the meeting we will send you an itemised fee quote for our services (without obligation) if you wish to take the project further. 

Measured Building Survey

A measured survey provides you with accurate drawings of the existing building.

Unless a digital survey already exists, we'll measure the existing property, and draw up in CAD the relevant plans, elevations and sections. The services of a specialist surveyor will be enlisted for large and complex buildings. 

Design Development 
RIBA stage C

Time spent early on at design stage ensures value for money later. By preparing several

layout options and comparing alternative solutions, we can make sure that the project represents the best possible use of space and resources. We revise our drawings according to the feedback given. The scope of design development will be tailored to the project’s requirements. 

Planning & other statutory approvals
RIBA stage D

The preferred option is worked up to a higher level of detail. We will explore roof shapes, glazing, external materials and combine them into an elegant solution. The outcome of this stage is a set of layout drawings that include the proposed plans, elevations, sections. These plans are necessary for the various statutory approvals that might be required.

Smaller projects usually fall within the scope of ‘permitted developments’: if so we recommend applying for a ‘lawful development certificate’ (although not compulsory, it is useful when selling a property).

If planning consent is required, we will also apply for planning permission on your behalf. We are Approved Planning Agents for Bristol City Council and our applications will be determined within 6 weeks (rather than the standard 8 weeks).

If the building is listed, we will prepare a listed building consent application. The drawings contain more detail than planning drawings (proposed internal alterations are shown as well), and are accompanied by a heritage statement. Further details may be requested by the local authorities.

Planning drawings show the appearance of the building but do not contain much information on the proposed construction. Quotes from builders based purely on layout drawings often do not ensure adequate price certainty as additional technical detail drawings need to be produced for construction. 

Building Regulations
RIBA stage E

Compliance with the building regulations is a statutory requirement. The planning drawings are developed into detailed construction drawings that demonstrate compliance with the regulations: structure, fire safety, ventilation, energy use, accessibility, etc. This set of drawings is submitted to Building Control, who then undertakes a thorough check of the plans to verify compliance. A structural engineer will be required to provide calculations for the new structure and any removal of existing structural elements. Projects featuring large glazed areas will require a SAP (heat loss) calculation provided by an energy assessor. Once work starts on site, the building inspector will perform site visits at key stages. Fees are payable to building control for the plan check and inspections. If your project involves work to a shared wall or near a boundary you will have to notify your neighbours and enter into a ‘Party Wall’ agreement. We will advise you on the necessary steps to take; however if your neighbours do not consent to the work in writing you will need to appoint a specialist Party Wall surveyor. 

Details, Specifications and Tender
RIBA stages F-G

To achieve a crisp, contemporary result it is necessary to detail the critical junctions that have a high visual impact: roof edges, cladding, window openings and any unusual features. Construction details are also essential to make sure that airtightness and insulation are carried out to a high standard. Construction drawings (generally at scale of 1:20 and 1:5) show in detail how components (for example, windows and bricks) are put together into building elements (i.e. roofs or walls). The amount of detail required depends on the complexity of the design.

Specifications and Schedules of Work are written documents that list the required materials, fixtures, fittings and finishes for every room. This set of documents enables you to get like-for-like quotes from different contractors. We can assist in selecting suitable building contractors to tender for the job; some clients prefer to deal with this stage themselves, or they might already know a builder they trust. 

Site Visits and Meetings
RIBA stages H-K

The documents produced at stages 5 and 6 form the basis of the construction contract with the builder. A construction contract sets out clearly what is to be done so there is no confusion, and provides a fair legal framework for the work, protecting both the client and builder. Contracts also include retention of money until the project is complete, which provides a useful ‘carrot’ for the contractor, and can include damages for lack of performance.

If commissioned for this stage we also inspect work on site to ensure it is correctly carried out, and when the unexpected happens or requirements change we can revise the design and details to tie in with the original design. We also ‘snag’ the work to ensure everything is satisfactorily finished, and ‘certify’ payment for the contractor. This ensures that work is correctly valued so that only built work or materials securely stored on site are paid for, and that clients are not bullied into paying up-front for materials or work. 

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