Frequently asked questions
TYPICAL PROJECT PROCESS
Feasibility of Project & First Meeting
The Home Architect will do the best to ensure you well informed of the aspects you need to consider to make your decision to proceed. We will discuss your requirements over the phone or by email, however we recommend a meeting on site where we will visit you at your home, and assess your project. During this consultation, we will listen carefully to your requirements and offer experienced advice and ideas as well as explain the entirety of what will be involved in your project. This visit also allows us to get an understanding of the existing home/building and identify possible problems or constraints which might affect proposals. We charge a small consultation fee of £40 for every appointment to cover travel and time
Fee Quotation & Awareness of Other Costs
Following our first consultation, we can provide A CONFIRMED, written, fee quotation detailing the service we will provide. It will clearly explain the total architectural fee & the services included. It will also explain if any other fees are payable including local authority fees, structural design fees or any other financial costs. This will allow you to budget for the project, as knowing the financial impact ahead of spending will put you in control. A GUIDE CAN BE FOUND AT THE TOP OF OUR WEBSITE.
If you accept our quotation the first action we take is to arrange to carry out a measured survey of your existing property. This will be at a time that suits you. During this visit we will take dimensions of your property and photograhs for reference. These will assist us in producing the 'as existing' set of drawings. You may have further questions to ask which we will be more than happy to answer. We will also confirm your proposals and let you know when to expect the first draught of your drawing proposals.
Design & Production
As indicated above, we require to start drawing up existing plans, elevations & sections of your property form the information we recorded during the measured survey. The ‘as existing’ drawings are then developed into proposed drawings. We carefully draw everything up, taking into consideration your requirements and information we know the planning department require. Sometimes, we may seek initial advice from Planning where we consider there to be contentious circumstances or where the proposals do not fully meet with planning guidelines. This advice often helps achieve a positive planning outcome. Once planning permission has been granted, we develop the set of drawings further to produce building 'warrant drawings'. These are much more highly detailed and consist of plans, sections, elevations and details which will form part of the building 'warrant application' package. Included with this will be a specification. These drawings should also be suitible for a contractor to not only price from, but build from. If we require to do so, we will communicate with the structural engineer and work beside them to allow production of their structural design drawings package. We will also provide all the necessary U value and heat loss calculations which are a requirement of the building standards department. Once all of the information has been completed and you agree the proposals are to your satisfaction, we make the application to building standards. Our services also allow for us dealing with queries and requirements form the local authority throughout until the building warrant certificate has been granted.
Most of our clients manage the contractors/builders constructing the project themselves however should you feel you would rather have someone with experience do this for you, we can offer extended services for you. We can coordinate the design team and the construction work to ensure compliance with the approved drawing package and also ensure a high standards of workmanship is carried out. This can ensure value for money and will remove some of the stress involved in the process. Fees for this can be discussed and agreed at any stage in the process.
This text section of our website provides an outline of services you may require when considering carrying out a home project.
What do you require for your Design Project?
Many people are unaware of where to begin with their home project but have often heard titles such as Architect, structural engineer, and Interior Designer. Do they require all of these? Which one do we need first? What costs are involved? This can be very daunting for inexperienced clients and often clients require to seek further advice on where to begin. It is with the hope that this short section will assist anyone who views this website.
When considering who to choose first for your project, the most important appointment is of someone able to convey your ideas and requirements by means of drawings and specification on paper. Someone who can produce formal drawings or quick sketches that can convey ideas and concepts to others. This information will be used to inform all other possible members of the design and construction team of intent. Others such as contractors, structural engineers, building standards and planning departments. Quotations for pricing can be deduced from these drawings as well as applications for planning permission and building warrant. This appointment should be your local architect.
Most projects should be handled by a Registered Architect who will be highly trained and able to provide a high level of design flair. Small home improvements can be carried out by your local architect. If you are about to embark on a project, it will probably be best for you to talk to a range of potential architects to identify the right type of personality suitable for you to get along with. A good Architect will be able to take your design ideas and make sure it is translated into a practical project. They will provide an invaluable link between you and your builder, and they will be able to add the creative spark needed to make a building more than just a functional space. They will be able to give you a new insight into the best use of materials, and any environmental considerations from using them. They will show you the best use of your available space and how to use light to enhance this. In many cases they will also be able to help you with legislative issues surrounding your project, such as planning permission and building regulations.
When looking for a suitable Architect to carry out your work, it is important to compile a checklist of things to consider. For example, their location and areas of expertise. You can then prepare an overview, or 'brief', of the work you need carrying out for discussion with your chosen Architect. This will help you both to understand what the requirements are, and it will help prevent any misunderstandings at a later stage.
Your chosen Architect will be able to help you consider what you want out of the project and how your requirements are likely to change in the future. Your Architect will also need to consider the requirements of the local planning authorities, possible limitations of the existing building or site, and other regulatory requirements. Historic buildings will also have further requirements and permissions that will need to be taken into consideration depending on their listing.
As well as discussing your requirement and your options in detail and producing drawings, your chosen supplier may also be able to help you with planning applications, party wall issues, and sourcing builders and contractors to undertake the work. Some suppliers will also provide management services to oversee the whole project if required.
What are the questions that you should be asking about your project?
A good Architect providing a professional design service, will have a lot of experience of producing innovative designs for a wide variety of conditions. Some of the points that they will be considering will be:
How can the project be planned to best suit your requirements and those of the planners and other regulatory bodies?
How can costs be kept to a minimum but without cutting corners?
How can the project be carried out using sustainable methods to reduce the impact on the environment?
Does anything need to be considered to ensure that the resulting building is free from toxic emissions?
How can the building be made reasonably airtight to keep unwanted draughts out but at the same time ensure adequate ventilation?
How should insulation be used to keep the building warm?
What consideration will need to be given to the use of breathable materials to allow moisture to satisfactorily pass through the building fabric? The new building should not suffer from condensation problems.
How can solar energy be captured to help keep the building warm during cold periods?
How can solar shading be used to ensure that the building does not get too hot in the summer?
What are the options for the use of natural and renewable energy like wood for heating, and wind and sun for electricity generation?
How can water usage be kept to a minimum? Is there scope for rainwater capture for washing machines, toilets and garden irrigation?
What are the requirements for sewage waste and treatment on site?
What materials can be sourced locally, using a smaller carbon footprint?
Are there any party wall requirements that will need to be considered?
Should an old building be pulled down, or can it be renovated to make it more reusable, in a way that uses less new materials and generates less waste?
How can a new building be constructed so that at the end of its life as much of the materials as possible can be reused or recycled in a more sustainable way?
Important Information about Architects
For projects requiring the expertise and design flair of a qualified Architect, a question that often arises is; what is the difference between Architects, Architectural technicians and Architectural designers?
By Law, anyone calling themselves an ‘Architect’ must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). This is a requirement under Section 20 of the Architects Act 1997. ARB is the UK’s statutory regulator of architects. They keep a public register, which is searchable online, of around 33,000 architects (www.arb.org.uk). Every architect on their register has met the required standards for education, training and practice. Every Architect on the ARB register must comply with a code of conduct, and every Architect on the register is answerable to that code of conduct.
Many Architects are also members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). This is in effect a trade organisation that encourages better quality of design and current information about designing buildings and a community for architecture and the excellence of its members. ‘Chartered Architects’ are those that comply with the RIBA’s strict criteria. In a similar way, Architectural firms can become a ‘Chartered Practice’ provided they meet the strict requirements of the RIBA’s accreditation scheme. This is a great membership organisation that any registered ARB member can apply to join.
Who else can Architects do to help you?
Once the design is complete, you may also require a Structural Engineer to carry out the necessary structural calculations.
Architects can also help with interior design
Whether you like modern architectural design or traditional design, we can supply the means to suit your project.
What are the advantages of having an architect?
If you engage an architect, you should always end up with a better product
Architects are professionally trained and are especially good as seeing the “big picture” – in making the best of the space you have, in getting interesting designs, in ensuring the light is right, the feel is good, and that the house works.
Architects are good at ensuring the work is professionally carried out – that your project meets with the requirements of building standards and that you employ other consultants when required.
Architects are generally good at the detail that most others consider and which, if done wrongly, can end up being costly.
The architect is the expert eyes and ears, whose job it is to represent your interests with builders and local authorities.
Architects in the UK are also subject to a statutory code of practice and have Professional Indemnity Insurance to protect their clients.
Architects will progress the design following set work stages to ensure the quality of information is provided for your project
Chances are that a builder will recommend someone who is able to carry out drawing work for you. Be aware that anyone can supply drawings. Not just anyone will do them correctly and ensure both safety of proposals and of build. Remember, building standards are not liable for mistakes that the designers make so if they miss something its not on them
Questions Clients Often Ask:
Can I/We approach builders before obtaining planning permission and building warrant approval?
Most builders will be unable to provide an accurate cost without a drawing package. They may provide an estimate but without seeing the full design and the method of how we construct the project this will often be very unrealistic. The builder may not be aware of the full facts and intentions that would influence the overall costs. Its best to have a full set of drawings to allow for accurate pricing and also allow you to compare quotes based on the same level of information.
Are Our fees expensive?
A quotation from architectural practices with overheads can be in the region of £5-10k. We are considerably cheaper. Most will offer a excellent service, but their fees are often between 10-15% of the estimated build cost. At the other end of the spectrum, some companies offer a budget service for around £500, however drawings can often be of poor quality and will have insufficient information for your builder (DONT TAKE THE RISK!). Many are often unqualified and uninsured. The Home Architect is a registered practice with ARB (Architects Registration Board) and therefore has a high standard and code of conduct to maintain. We also carry full professional indemnity insurance appropriate to the size of projects we procure.
Do your fees include Council Planning & Building Warrant fees?
At The Home Architect we COMBINE our fees SO THAT YOU DONT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE END FIGURE. We ensure our clients are aware of the costs involved in advance of committing to the work and the submission of applications.
Is a Structural Engineer, included in the price?
If your project includes structural alterations, you will require the services of a Structural Engineer. We will advise you if this is the case. We keep their fees separate and we seek for them to quote and invoice directly. As stated previously we work with Structural Engineers on a regular basis and can recommend their services for you.
Explain the difference between Planning and Building Standards Approval?
Clients often confuse planning permission and a building warrant or think they are the same thing. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the two are entirely separate. Some projects only require one while others require both. We will advise you which permissions you need to have in place before you commence your building project. A planning application gives opportunity for proposed development to be considered in the context of its local setting. Some things that the Planning department will consider include if your development overlooks or overshadows neighbouring property as well as proposed colour and materials of finishes. Some small alterations can be carried out without the need for planning permission and this is known as Permitted Development. We can advise you if your proposals will require permission or not. A building warrant is normally required if you intend to erect, alter, extend, demolish or change the use of any structure. Building Standards concerns all aspects of the structure both internally and externally. They check for compliance with the Building Regulations to ensure public health and safety, conservation of fuel and power and that facilities are provided for those with disabilities.
How detailed are your drawings?
All our drawings are produced for the purposes of obtaining a 'building warrant'. Therefore, the same drawing package will be sufficient for your builder to accurately price and build from.
How long will it take the council to process my applications?
Planning applications can take up to eight weeks to be decided. This is because of statutory legislation. Your application will be placed in their queue system and during this time we cannot influence its progress and it is out with our control. Building Control usually take around a month to two months to respond although this can vary from council to council. Typically, they tend to be slightly quicker. All of this is worth bearing in mind when anticipating start dates for your project.
Can I start building works before obtaining approval?
We would by no means advise that you start the works prior to receiving approval. Anyone who does so, does so at their own risk. It is a legal requirement to have the necessary permissions in place prior to works commencing. It is your responsibility to ensure you have obtained the necessary permissions before instructing a building contractor to start works on site.
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