Good architecture comes from building trust and knowledge between you and us. Therefore, even before you decide to appoint us, we focus on knowing you and your aspirations. Before meeting, we will ask you for details about the property- address and plans - your brief, budget and desired timeframes. This will allow us to check the planning, design and cost constraints around your project. During our first meeting, we focus mostly on two things. Firstly, we get to know each other: we will aks you about your personal and professional interests, habits and ideals; about the house and your aspirations for the future.
Secondly, we will review your brief through sketches and photos of the house, to make sure we have a perfect understanding of the brief.
We will advise on all aspects of the process and make sure you have all the information to make an informed decision. We cannot be the perfect fit for every potential client, so we like to see this first meeting as a chance to meet someone and provide professional advice.
If you think you might like working with us, we prepare an initial report on the project, including preliminary cost, planning and design considerations. We will also discuss our degrees of service and the related fees. We will review more in detail the design and construction process to clarify what we will do at each stage.
In some cases, we may suggest that further investigations are required to understand the project's full potential or the best way for you to achieve what you need. In other cases, we will be ready to agree on a fee. Fees are usually calculated as a percentage of the net construction cost, excluding all professional fees. Our fees usually range between 10 and 15% of the net construction cost, depending on the budget and degree of service. You can check here our fee structure.
Once the fee, budget and brief are agreed. We will prepare a standard RIBA Appointment contract. We will appoint someone on your behalf to survey the house and prepare drawings, which we will develop into a 3D model. Together with the client, we will try to make the best possible financial case through sketches cost analysis and layout options. We will check the need for other consultants’ inputs, arrange investigations where required and sketch out a programme.
The preliminary design stages are among the most exciting moments of the full project. We will work together on finding the right balance between your aspirations and all the constraints. We will clarify your ambitions in terms of design, space, and sustainability. We always provide at least three layout options for every project: this forces us and the clients to explore alternative ideas, and always delivers precious insights. Slowly but surely, the main theme for the project will emerge from the long conversations with the clients, the sketches and models, the references to other projects or to clients' past experiences. The main theme or concept will guide all the future choices and provide a more solid ground for the development of the project.The final design brief should reflect your aspirations and provide you with a home that adds value and improves your quality of life.
In some cases - especially for the most ambitious projects - we will approach the Local Planning Department to initiate the conversation.
The final design stage is when we develop the concept and brief into a complete building, with a character, materials, and precisely defined spaces. We will look more closely to your everyday life (current and future) to design around your needs and habits. We will carefully unpack the complex choice of materials, with all their ecological, aesthetic, and atmospheric implications. The bones and muscles of the house will also need definition: the structural strategy, sustainability, heating and hot water, water management, and perhaps energy generation solutions will all need to fit a coherent and efficient design.
Finally, we will be ready to submit a planning application to the council and proceed to the detailed design. We will approach Building Control and coordinate all the inputs from the structural engineer, resolve the party wall matters together and much more.
During this stage, we will prepare details and specifications for the entire project. Roofs, walls, floors, ceilings, doors, and finishes, will all be assembled on our drawings to clearly show what we want to achieve. We will pre-select suppliers we think will be crucial to the success of the building.
When all the information is nicely coordinated, it is sent to the contractors we think are suited for your type of project. We will review and compare their quotes, advise on strategies to save money if necessary, and finally assist you in signing the construction contract.
When the contractor is chosen properly, the construction phase feels more like a common effort towards a shared goal than a confrontation between conflicting interests.
In most cases we will act as contract administrators during the construction phase. This means we will impartially evaluate the builders' work and approve payments based on real progress on site. We will also make sure the right incentives are in place to complete the work on time.
Of course, we will visit the site to check the quality of the work, solve issues and take advantage of opportunities together with the client and the contractor.
After completion, there will be a time when you adapt to the new house, and the house adapts to the works. Small cracks might appear, which will need to be rectified by the builder. You will receive a set of information on how things work. We will usually arrange for professional photos to be taken and we will decide together whether to submit the project for awards and publications!