Our ProcessThe journey that we guide our clients through from initial contact to competition and beyond
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The first step is an initial phone conversation with one of our Project Directors. The main purpose of this telephone call is to discuss with you the key parameters of your project and establish if and how we can help.
Prior this informal conversation, our Project Director will consider the information provided and use the call as an opportunity to ascertain in more detail what you would like to achieve, the potential of the project and what restrictions there may be, and the scope of architectural services that is most suitable.
They will then offer some preliminary advice regarding the feasibility of the project in relation to planning restrictions and the target budget.
After we have established if and how we can assist you with your project, the next step is an introduction meeting with our Project Team.
The introduction meeting, which can take place at our Islington practice or virtually, is an opportunity for us to get to know each other better, discuss your project in more detail and give you a sense of what our collaboration will be like before you commit to working with us.
We begin with a short presentation about the unique process that we been perfecting over many years.
The three team members assigned to your project will introduce their specialised roles: Design, Technical Design and Project Management, using illustrated examples.
We proceed to discuss the details of the project and provide preliminary advice on 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 may be based either on a percentage of the construction cost, or on a fixed sum.
To provide our prospective clients with a broad picture of the project ahead, we include a full list of the other consultants that may be required to contribute, including estimated costs as well as a preliminary project programme.
To complete the pre-appointment process, we usually propose a visit to the site for the assigned Project Director to verify some of our early thoughts, answer any questions about the fee proposal and, most importantly, ensure all parties are happy to embark on the journey ahead together.
To enable us to build an accurate 3D model of the existing site and any existing buildings, we need a Measured Survey. This may 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. Depending on the chosen scope of the project, we will then either appoint the surveying company directly, or invite you to appoint them under us and we will liaise with them on your behalf.
3D BIM Model
Based on the data from the Measured Survey, we will build a comprehensive and fully accurate 3D model of the existing site.
This model will be created in a BIM (Building Information Modelling) environment and will be referred to throughout every stage the project, from inception through to final completion.
Using such advanced technology, the full suite of project information such as drawings, schedules and specifications can be derived from this single coordinated 3D model.
During the Briefing Process stage, we conduct in-depth interviews, ideally with everyone who will be living in the home once it is finished.
We discuss and expertly analyse all the requirements and aspirations for the project in great detail.
The resulting high-definition brief, from which the design emerges, ensures that what we create a is a true expression of the personal 'scenarios' of our clients. This embodies the unique way in which our clients aspire to live in their home and its surroundings.
The high-definition brief developed during the Preparation stage is developed into a 3-dimensional simulation which is both revealing and informative, illuminating our clients' aspirations, requirements and patterns of habitation.
We discuss our interpretation of the brief whilst exploring together the simulation that we created within a virtual environment, to ensure 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 whilst 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 the special qualities of the scheme established and agreed, we ask ourselves the following question:
Which materials lend themselves effectively and sustainably to the realisation of the design?
To answer this question, we consider style, planning restrictions, budget and sustainability.
We believe that architecture should provide a backdrop for living, not take centre stage. Life itself is vibrant and full of colour, so materials are used in their honest, natural state.
Planning in the UK in general, and in Greater London in particular, can be a complex process. It is an intricate maze of policies, standards and regulations that require both specialised and current knowledge and skills in order to navigate it successfully.
Over many years, we have developed a failsafe approach and effective methodology that has allowed us to maintain an outstanding track record, spanning over more than a decade.
During the Planning stage, we prepare and submit all of the drawings and documentation required for obtaining planning permission and liaise with the local council's Case Officers 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.
Planning track record
- 89% Secured in a single round
- 4% Secured in a second round
- 3% Secured in a single appeal
- 1% Secured in a second appeal
- 3% Not secured
Detail Design & Tender
During this stage, we develop the detail of the scheme and design special features and built-in joinery items.
We discuss and agree on all material finishes and select the kitchen and bathrooms with all fixtures and fittings. We then proceed to develop mechanical, electrical and lighting schemes and collaborate with our clients to select all the required details.
This enjoyable process is highly interactive. During design meetings, we explore the proposed scheme with our clients using our immersive real-time 3D visualisation software, displaying realistic materials and light conditions.
The ability to adjust the model live to try out new ideas makes the process all the more exciting, and our design meetings are designed to feel like a collaborative and interactive workshop.
Based on the approved 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 the site.
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 level of detail included in this documentation plays a key role in obtaining accurate and reliable quotes, and helps to maintain the highest level of quality control during construction on site.
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 has been 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. This would typically 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 and 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.
Once all work is complete, our clients move into their new home. 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 of these items have been completed, we conclude the building contract and allow our clients to continue enjoying the new home for many years to come.
We always remain available for any questions or advice that our clients may need and aim to stay in touch to hear about how clients experience and interact with the new home that we have created together.
You have now seen the full cycle of our process from appointment to hand over! You can use the button below to view the process again, or keep scrolling down to contact usRestart the process journey
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.