The first step is an initial phone conversation with one of our directors for us to hear more about the requirements and assess if we are best suited for the project.
Prior to this informal conversation we look at the information available and during the call provide preliminary advice with regards to feasibility of the scope in relation to planning restrictions and the target budget.
Having established mutual interest to proceed, the next step is an introduction meeting with a typical project team.
The introduction meeting which can take place at our practice or virtually, begins with a short presentation by one of our directors about the unique process that we perfected over the years.
The three aspects of the project, design, technical design and management are then introduced by the three team members, each specialised in their respective roles using illustrated examples.
We proceed to discuss the particulars of the project and provide preliminary advice about design, planning, construction, budget and timeframe.
The next step is for us to issue our scope and fee proposal for the project. Depending on the particular requirements and the scope offered, our fees might be either based on a percentage from the construction cost or a fixed lump sum.
To provide potential clients with a broad picture of the project ahead we include a list of all the other consultants, which might be required with estimated costs as well as a preliminary project programme.
To complete the pre-appointment process we normally propose a visit to the site for the assigned project director to verify some of our assumptions, answer any questions about the fee proposal and most importantly meet face to face before both parties decide to embark together on the journey ahead.
To enable us to build an accurate 3D model of the existing site and any existing buildings we will need a measured survey, this might be a 2D CAD survey or a 3D laser scan survey, depending on the particulars of the project.
We will obtain suitable quotes for you to consider and appoint the surveying company directly, or appoint them under us and liaise with them on your behalf depending on the chosen scope.
3D BIM Model
Based on the survey data we will build an accurate 3D model of the existing site.
This model will be created in a BIM (Building Information Modelling) environment and will be used throughout the project from inception to completion.
With this advanced technology, all project information such as drawings, schedules and specifications are derived from a single, accurate and coordinated 3D model.
During this stage, we conduct in depth briefing interviews, ideally with everyone who will be using the project once finished.
We discuss and analyse all the requirements and aspirations for the project in great detail. The resulting high definition brief ensures that the design which emerges from it is a true expression of the unique way in which our clients would like home and its surroundings.
The high definition brief developed during the preparation stage is converted into a 3-dimensional simulation which is both revealing and informative, illuminating aspirations, requirements and patterns of habitation.
We discuss our interpretation of the brief while exploring together the simulation that we created within a virtual environment, to make sure that we both understood and interpreted the brief correctly.
Based on the abstract simulation developed during the previous step, the scheme now begins to take shape. Familiar architectural elements such as walls, floors and stairs gradually emerge, embracing the various daily activities while enhancing the desired relationships between them.
At the end of this step of the process the form of the building is fully developed and agreed.
With both the special qualities of the scheme and the from which emerged to facilitate it well established and agreed, it is time to ask ourselves the following question:
Which materials lend themselves effectively and sustainably to the realisation of the design?
To answer this question we consider, taste, planning restrictions, budget and sustainability.
We believe that architecture should provide a backdrop for life and not take center stage. Life itself is vibrant and full of colour, so materials are used in their honest, natural state.
Planning in the U.K in general and in Greater London in particular can be a tricky business. It is a complex maze of policies, standards and regulations that requires specialised and up to date knowledge and skills to navigate successfully.
Over the years we developed a strong approach and an effective methodology, allowing us to maintain an outstanding track record stretching over more than a decade.
During the planning stage we prepare and submit all the drawings and documentation required for obtaining planning permission and liaise with the council's case officers as on behalf of our clients.
Depending on the nature of the proposed scheme and local planning restrictions we may advise seeking pre-planning advice prior to submission of a full planning application. Our experience shows that when properly consulted and liaised with, most planning case officers will be receptive to conduct a professional dialogue, increasing chances of successes.
Detail design & Tender
During this stage we develop and detail the scheme and design special features and built-in joinery items.
We discuss and agree on all material finishes and select bathrooms and kitchen with all fixtures and fittings. We then proceed to develop mechanical, electrical and lighting schemes and work together with our clients to select all the required fittings.
This process is fun and highly interactive as during design meetings we explore the proposed scheme with clients using an immersive real time 3D visualisation software displaying realistic materials and light conditions.
The ease of tweaking the model in real-time to test ideas that might come up in the conversation makes the process all the more exciting and design meetings with clients often develop into a collaborative and creative workshop.
Between meetings we share the information presented for review and comments and produce revisions to be presented and discussed at the following meeting.
Based on the signed-off detail design, we develop the technical design of the scheme in collaboration with the other consultants and prepare a drawing set with all information required for accurate pricing and selection of the main contractor.
For most projects along with the pricing document we will issue a full set of NBS (National Building Standard) specifications covering matters of best practice, compliance and quality control.
Our experience shows that the accuracy and the level of detail that we include in the documentation plays a key role in obtaining accurate and reliable pricing and helps to maintain the highest level of quality control during construction.
The selection of a main contractor for the project marks the conclusion of this stage and final preparation for the realisation of the project commences.
Once a main contractor is chosen and the final contract sum negotiated and agreed, the building contract is prepared and signed.
We recommend using a standard form of building contract that is appropriate to the size of the project, typically this would be one of the building contracts published by the JCT (Joint Contracts Tribunal).
Once construction work commences on site, regular site visits will be conducted to inspect the works to determine whether the project is proceeding in accordance with the contract.
The contractor will be provided with further instructions, information and drawings as required.
The works completed on site will be valued monthly to determine the appropriate portion of the contract sum which can be released for payment.
After all work is completed , clients are able to move into their new home and start enjoying it.
At this point a rectification period will begin to allow the structure to settle and any minor latent defects to present themselves.
At the end of the rectification period a visit will be arranged to conduct final inspections and arrange for correction of any apparent defects by the contractor.
Once all making good items have been completed, it's time to conclude the building contract and allow our clients to continue enjoying your new home for many years to come.
We always remain available for any questions and advice that our clients may need and aim to stay in touch and hear about how clients experience and interact with the new home that we created together.
Frequently Asked Questions
- As a dynamic practice operating in London’s premium residential market, managing projects remotely and conducting virtual meetings was a very familiar territory for us, long before the pandemic began and ‘working remotely’ became the norm.
- Our clients have very busy lifestyles and may move between several different locations, both within the UK and beyond, during the lifecycle of a typical project.
- To accommodate such client needs and enable us to run their projects smoothly we had all the technology and know-how associated with remote working in place for several years.
- Read our full (Virtual) Process
- Scenario based design – We start each and every project with a meticulous analysis of our client’s vision, requirements and aspirations. We do this by asking our clients to imagine their everyday scenarios living in the completed house and describe their desired interaction with it.
- Uniquely interactive - Our client’s deep involvement in the process does not stop with completion of the brief. Our design meetings are highly interactive, informal and fun.
- Designed to reflect you – Based purely on your lifestyle, aspirations and requirements and free from externally imposed concepts, metaphors and pre-conceptions, a completely fresh and unique design will gradually emerge and it will tell your story not ours.
- Collaborative – We start the conversation with planners early and advise most of our clients to seek pre-planning advice prior to submission of a full planning application. Our experience shows that when properly consulted and liaised with, most planning case officers will be receptive to conduct a professional dialogue, increasing chances of successes.
- Strategic – We tailor a custom planning strategy for each project based on its circumstances such as planning history, local context and specific challenging elements. We sometimes split applications or introduce minor tweaks to the scheme during the consideration period in conversation with the officers to prevent one contentious element from jeopardising approval of the main scheme.
- Professional – Our experience shows that the quality and clarity of the submission in terms of background research, planning history of the property and context, precedent and of course the arguments presented to support the case has a tremendous effect on success rate.
- The decision period clock only starts ticking once the application is validated by the Council, This requires then to check that the forms are completed correctly and that the submission contains all the necessary drawings, statements and reports.
- Although required by law to provide a decision within the statutory eight weeks period, it is not uncommon for councils to miss the deadline of the consideration period, normally only by a few days, sometimes longer.
- In some cases the council may ask us as your agent for an extension of time, this may be requested due to internal reasons or as an acceptable result of a professional discussion that we are conducting with them about certain aspects of the application that they are not sure about.
- Our experience shows that planning officers respond better to projects when they feel consulted and collaborated with. We find that when we truly listen to their often helpful and valid feedback and treat them as consultants for the projects and not representative of an evil enforcing authority, they tend to collaborate well with us and demonstrate increased flexibility.
- Although the council in theory have eight weeks to consider your application, in practice they are constantly overloaded. They will only look at your application in the last few days of the consideration period. If this is the first time that they come across a scheme that they were never consulted about, our chance to secure permission for you in a single attempt is significantly compromised.
- The standard practice is for the council to consider the full planning application as submitted and then issue a yes or no decision. Case officers are not required or even encouraged to enter a discussion with us or accept resubmission of minor changes to the proposed scheme during the consideration period.