We are an Architects' practice:
Unlike many others who set themselves up as building designers, Architects have to go through an extensive period of training that lasts a minimum of seven years. This includes a three year undergraduate degree course (occasionally four), at least one year of workplace training, a postgraduate degree (normally a Masters degree), and then, following further practical and academic training, a final professional exam (known as 'part 3' in architectural circles). Only then can someone be registered as an Architect with the Architects Registration Board. The ARB is a statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament and is controlled by board members, elected and appointed to their positions, including a number of lay members from outside the architectural profession. The ARB stipulates codes of conduct and standards of insurance required for an Architect to practice and upholds these rigorously.
When you employ an Architect you are employing a skilled professional. No other design profession is educated or regulated to such a high standard, indeed some have no formal training or regulation at all. Only a registered Architect can use the name Architect. Other job descriptions, such as architectural designer, are meaningless.
Overview of services:
We offer design that is:
- Cost effective,
- Environmentally sensitive (without the ‘greenwash’),
- Responsive to your particular needs and circumstances,
- Appropriate to the site.
We can carry out Architect's work from the first ideas to the finished building - through the design, planning and building regulations processes, finding a builder, checking work on site and certifying payments to the builder.
This comprehensive range of services is available according to your need. Not all are appropriate to every project. A summary of each area of service is provided under the relevant heading with guidance on the basis on which fees are assessed and charged. You should bear in mind that your Architect will be interpreting your ambitions. Architects vary widely in style, approach and character. You will rarely get the same result from any two!
A feasibility appraisal of a site or proposed scheme may be straightforward, or it may involve detailed technical studies of the site and site conditions, planning history and policies. It will take in an understanding of the projected building use and programme, access, parking, planning, other statutory bodies and environmental considerations. It may also involve assessment of different sites for suitability. Feasibility studies are normally charged on a time basis as it is difficult to accurately assess at the outset how much work will be required. The extent of work would be proportionate to the project size.
Design is what most people would expect of an Architect. It is a process that begins with conceptual ideas and develops them, normally, though not exclusively, into built form. Good design is difficult though the result should look easy and ‘natural’ and be buildable within a reasonable budget. Design does not end with the concept but has to be carried through construction to a finished building of integrity and quality. Design should be a collaborative venture between all concerned, a conversation that grows to be a fine story. Good design can not be achieved on a shoestring but ought not, on the other hand, cost a fortune.
It is tempting to say that Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas should be subject to particular and special care. In fact all development should be. However with a Listed Buildings there is the added dimension of historical and architectural importance that have led to the Listing. They are important heritage assets, although few of their original builders would have seen them in that light, and they do need care in respect of potential changes and development. To manage this there has to be a good understanding of the historic styles of buildings, the reasons that people had to build in the way that they did, maybe through the effects of climate or the availability of materials, the available wealth (or otherwise), and the important influence of fashion. Sensitivity towards old buildings, and most Listed Buildings are old, is not just about the minutiae of joinery details and the like. It is about the effect on the fabric by changed ways of life, the difference between heating by open fires, with consequent forced ventilation, being replaced by central heating and draught-proofing, by higher internal temperatures and greater humidity. Aesthetically it is about understanding proportions of windows, or solid to openings, of changes of storey height from ground to roof, much of it predicated on a particular pattern of living prevalent at the time of building.
Planning and planning appeals
We will prepare your planning application, including drawings, supporting statement and completion of forms and submit it to the Local Planning Authority. Planning submission drawings have particular technical requirements which may well not have been addresses during sketch design. There may well be a need for supporting statement (design and access) and some technical and legal documents (Section 106 and C.I.L. for developer contributions to local infrastructure). In some instances failure to provide the right documentation can result in a financial liability that cannot be set aside later (C.I.L. in particular). During the application process we will keep an eye on the application and, if necessary, make amendments and/or supply additional material as may be legitimately requested by the L.P.A..
Should your planning application be refused we will discuss your options and make a re-application that addresses to the reason for refusal (no fee to the L.P.A.). If it appears that the L.P.A. will not change its position, and if it appears that an appeal stands a reasonable chance of success, we can either prepare the appeal ourselves, or introduce you to a planning consultant who can do the work.
There is a certain amount of development that can be done without the need for planning permission (some domestic extensions and alterations, other works, and particular changes of use). The rules are precise, although not always obvious in their implications, at times convoluted and complex. Even experienced professionals need to check proposed developments against the Statutory Instruments to be sure that permitted development really does apply. It is often a good idea to gain a 'Lawful Development Certificate' to demonstrate that the proposal does meet the criteria of permitted development. This also has the benefit of leaving a record on the Councils planning register for a future sale.
Once you have planning permission we can prepare general arrangements drawings with details and specifications of the works. This is the stage when the ambitions of the earlier sketch and planning stages is more fully realised. It is not a tick-box exercise, or a purely technical one, but the point at which the details of the construction are worked out to that they achieve the best overall result. If the earlier design stages have been carefully and thoughtfully carried through, the principles of construction will have been considered then, with space allowed for construction and structural elements, matters of safety, particularly in relation to fire protection and escape, and drainage.
Building contract administration
In many forms of building contract there is a role for Contract Administration. This provides an impartial intermediary between client and builder (although normally paid for by the client). The administrator ensures that the work is carried out under the contract terms, acts as a conduit for information, between client and contractor and vice-versa, certifies stage payments and that work has been done to a suitable standard. Any changes require an understanding of the design and the impact that they will have on it. The realisation of your ambitions needs to be overseen by someone who understands them.
There are several forms of Certification. Whilst some form part of the administration of a building contract, many finance providers now ask for the value of work done to be certified by an Architect to enable draw-downs of money. An Architect can also issue an ‘Architects Certificate’ to demonstrate that work has been carried out satisfactorily, and which provides a means of redress if there is a subsequent failure. Today, where appropriate, the N.H.B.C. warranty scheme or its equivalent is often used instead. Certification requires regular site visits. When not part of contract administration, it will be charged separately. The cost will vary on a case by case basis.
It is important to realise that contract administration is a separate matter from an Architect's role as designer, even for works on site. The two can be carried out by separate individuals, and it is important to be clear as to what job any one person is doing, and if one person is carrying out both roles, that it clearly understood that this is the case.