Frequently Asked Questions
Often the best way to answer queries is to have a quick chat over the telephone, but there are a number of questions that are often asked and so we have given brief answers to these here:
What are the logos on our website?
RIBA Chartered Practice
We are an RIBA Chartered Practice.
The title ‘Architect’ is protected by law in the UK and can only be used in business or practice by someone who has had the education, training and experience needed to join the Architects Register and become an Architect. Architects are registered by the Architects Registration Board.
Some of our team are Architects and listed on the ARB Register
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body driving excellence in architecture. As an RIBA Chartered Practice, we are committed to the highest standards of professionalism, best practice and ethics.
CIAT Charted Practice
We are a CIAT Chartered Practice.
The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) is a dynamic, forward-thinking and inclusive global membership qualifying body for Architectural Technology. It represents those practising and studying within the discipline and profession. CIAT qualifies Chartered Architectural Technologists (someone who hold the designation MCIAT or FCIAT).
Some of our team are MCIAT.
Whether you need a design or plans for your project, or a qualified professional to guide you, a Chartered Architectural Technologist, can manage all stages from the earliest designs through to final certification, regardless of its size or value. They specialise in the technology of architecture focusing on the design of buildings for use and performance. As problem solvers, they will make the design work for you, ensuring that you achieve the maximum use of space.
Are we the right people for your project?
Before we embark on any work, we need to understand your needs, and you need to understand what we can offer.
We would initially discuss your project over the telephone to establish broadly whether it is a project that we could take on and, if so, the next step is usually to meet on site to discuss things in detail. We would discuss what you are aiming to achieve, the level of service that you require, the process, programme and budget.
Once we understand the project we will provide you with a fee proposal including our standard terms and conditions (which we can explain to you if required).
You will probably be meeting other Architects too, so you can then compare our fees and our approach with theirs and decide who to use.
We don’t have a ‘house style’, every project is tailored to suit our Client’s requirements.
Will I get Planning Permission?
Some projects do not require Planning Permission. There are Permitted Development Rights which allow certain extensions and alterations in certain circumstances.
We can check whether a project is ‘Permitted Development’ and if so, for a small fee you could obtain a ‘Lawful Development Certificate‘ for peace of mind.
Where Planning Permission is needed, we are unable to guarantee that Permission will be granted, but we can put together a good case to give the application the best chance of success. Our Planning Consultant, Sean Williams can be invaluable in ‘unlocking’ difficult Planning matters.
Will I get Building Regulations Approval?
We check proposals against the Building Regulations as we develop them, to avoid situations like obtaining Planning Permission for something that cannot be made to pass Building Regulations. When we present a design, there is often a lot of thought and research behind it – it is not just a ‘pretty picture.’ We will initially work with ‘rules of thumb’ and then ‘fine-tune’ the design as it develops with input as required from other consultants for such things as structural design or energy calculations.
We have a partnership agreement with Dorset Council Building Control which enables us to contact them if needed to discuss anything out of the ordinary, or challenging, as the design develops rather than waiting until the design is finished.
With experienced Architects and Architectural Technologists on our team, we have a great deal of technical expertise. If one of us doesn’t know the answer to a problem, someone else has probably come across it before and can suggest a good solution.
How much detail will be provided?
We tailor our work to meet the requirements of each individual project. If we are appointed for the ‘full service’ including administering the contract on site, we will provide detailed drawings and specifications. Having this information ‘up-front’ enables a high level of cost certainly, a high quality build, and reduces errors and delays on site. A number of Contractors have commented that they like working with us for this reason.
There are some instances in which Clients do not require a high level of detail and we are happy to undertake ‘permissions only’ work, where we finish after submitting the Building Regulations Application
Does your fee include Structural Engineering?
No. Engineering is a separate discipline, but we can suggest some suitable Structural Engineers that we have worked successfully with in the past on similar projects.
Do you do Interior Design?
Yes. We are happy to provide as much, or as little detail as needed. We can also prepare joinery details for furniture etc. If the interior design required is particularly specialised, we might recommend that you appoint a separate consultant for that aspect of the works, and we would then coordinate our design with theirs.
Does your fee include Cost Management?
There are two approaches – design what you want, and it costs what it costs, or design to a pre-determined budget. In practice, things are usually a bit more flexible than that – you will have an idea of what is important to you / where you want to spend a little more, and where you do not. You will have an idea of the quality that you wish to achieve, and may have particular materials or products in mind. This will obviously differ greatly between a speculative development with the main objective of maximising profit, and somebody’s dream ‘forever’ home.
We are not cost experts. If you require cost certainty before the works are tendered, we recommend that you appoint a Chartered Quantity Surveyor. We can then work with them as the design develops to design to a given budget.
Once the works have been tendered, we manage the costs on site – certifying payment in arrears for works properly completed, and providing cost updates as the work progress. On large / complex projects where a Quantity Surveyor has prepared a Bill of Quantities, they would remain involved during construction to assist in cost control during the works.
Do you offer Project Management?
‘Project Management’ is not a well defined term and means different things to different people. We manage the project in as much as we coordinate the design, keep track of cost and programme, issue instructions for any variations and so on. However, we usually tender the works to a single main Contractor who then manages the individual trades and coordinates the procurement of materials and sequence of works etc.
Do you offer Landscape Design?
Yes. We can design and detail ‘hard’ landscaping and can design changes in levels, ramps and pathways etc. However, Landscape design is a specialism and there comes a point at which we would recommend that you appoint a specialist Landscape Architect and we would then work with them to coordinate the design of the building and landscape. We sometimes design buildings on projects that are primarily large Landscape design projects
Will you provide 3D Visualisation?
It is often necessary to think in three dimensions and to communicate this to others. We work in different ways. Some of us prefer to sketch with a pencil, and then draw up accurately on the computer later whereas others start off on the computer from the outset. We might or might not need to prepare 3D sketches either by hand or on the computer in order to develop the design, but these are normally quite crude – just enough to communicate a concept or to test an idea. Our final ‘output’ is usually detailed 2D working drawings, and then the finished building once it has been built. If you would like an accurate 3D visualisation we can provide one, but it is normally an additional service.
What are the CDM regulations?
The construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 is legislation governing safety in construction. We can explain this legislation and how it will relate to your project, and we can act as ‘Principal Designer’ on most projects. On larger or complex projects, we may recommend that this role be undertaken by a specialist.
What is a party wall?
Party walls are walls between two or more owners. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. As well as walls, the Act also covers ‘Party Structures’ and excavations near adjoining buildings. We can advise you of whether the act affects your project and, if so, the procedures that should be followed. We can act as Party Wall Surveyor although in some circumstances (for example where there could be a perceived conflict of interest) it might be necessary to appoint somebody else.