• Appraisal & briefing
  • Measured survey
  • Sketch design
  • Developed design to planning application or application for lawful development
  • Detail & technical design & construction/tender information
  • On site construction inspection and certification

Initial meeting

This is the opportunity to discuss the project and to see if we are a compatible team with regards to design and budget.

We will discuss process and stages.  The design of the scheme is not undertaken during this meeting, but we will look at potential issues and some basic ideas.  Even the simplest projects are governed by budget, planning constraints, client demands etc.  Most projects will require considerable input to get moving, so we will require more time to develop ideas.

Following this meeting, we will submit a detailed proposal to progress the project on a stage by stage basis.

Other services can be undertaken if required, such as interior design, kitchen design or bathroom design – it is best to discuss requirements as we progress the brief and design.


If you decide to take the project forward, the next step would be to enter into a formal contract. This would set out the architects services and obligations to the client and vice versa. Again, there is flexibility to pick and choose the architect’s services that would suit the project and your budget.

The RIBA charter does not allow an architect to proceed with work unless a contract is in place.


This meeting will seek to establish a ballpark all-inclusive budget commensurate with your wishlist of requirements.  This will help clarify and prioritise elements of the brief.

All too often, potential clients have asked a builder for a quote, based on a brief conversation, that only includes a basic shell, omitting the interior, windows, doors, exterior, fees, vat etc This sets unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved, so this needs to resolved at the outset.

We will put together a brief linking this wishlist and budget to a list of tasks. This will also include fee proposals for options, with advice on other potential appointments and requirements that may also be required:  Logistics, health and safety, Statutory Approvals, specialist surveys, structural engineer, party wall surveyor, acoustic consultant, energy efficiency consultant, arborculturist, interior finishes, kitchens, sanitaryware, external works, local authority contributions etc…

This will provide a valuable overview of the project at the outset.  I find that this allows you to prioritise the most important aspects of the wishlist and decide which items to focus on.

Measured survey

To work up proposals, we will need to carry out a measured survey of the existing property and to have this in a CAD format. This allows us to prepare sketch proposals and to develop the scheme. A measured survey of the existing plan and elevations would also be required for submission of a planning application to show the extent of the proposals. The fee to carry out a measured and drawn survey will depend on the complexity and size of the existing property and of the proposed scheme. Generally, for a terraced house the fee is approximately £650, for a 3 bedroom semi-detached house, around £800. A more precise fee can be advised at the initial meeting.

Sketch design

These are drawings and sketches to develop the design and to communicate options to the client. There is no “menu” to choose from, as each property and each person is different. We do not copy a design from one project to the next. The goal being to submit a design, that meets your needs as well as fulfilling the planning requirements of the local authority (if applicable).  This process explores a number of options and rapidly discounts any that do not satisfy the brief.  This would hopefully avoid any ‘what if we had done that…’ situations later on.  This is the key process in adding ‘value’ to the property, as a design that improves the house as a place to live and enjoy, as well as increasing the market value.

Develop design to planning application or application for lawful development

Design drawings completed to allow submission of a planning application, application for lawful development (permitted development) or equivalent stage.

A certain amount of domestic development can be carried out under Permitted Development rights, which do not require planning permission. However, since they can vary depending on the history and location of a property, we would need to confirm these by way of an application for lawful development. If this is applicable, they may be sufficient for your development and improvement plans.

The Planning Application or Lawful Development drawings are single line drawings to convey the external design and massing to the Local Authority. Once submitted, the Local Planning Authority has a period of 8 weeks in which to decide whether to grant or refuse permission. This can to an extent be mitigated by careful consultation prior to submitting a formal application. Pre-application advice from the local authority can be sought if a proposal is more complex or within a sensitive area. However, the quality of feedback is not always helpful and depends largely on the local authority and level of service that has been paid for.

If under permitted development, then we do not have to submit a planning application, but it would be pertinent to apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness, which would be required in the event of a later sale.

In either case, there is no absolute guarantee of obtaining permission, due to the way in which each application is assessed individually by the planning department.

Detail & technical design & construction/tender information

This stage aims to develop the technical aspects of the design such as the structural design, electrical layout, plumbing, roof and wall design etc.  The aim of this is twofold:

1 – To provide adequate information to make a Building Control Application (this is the local authority department that approves the technical aspects of construction work).

2 – To provide a comprehensive set of drawings and documentation to allow a number of builders/contractors to competitively tender for the project.  This will allow the client to obtain the best price from the marketplace.  The architect’s work at this stage can also save money, by taking as much guesswork as possible out of the contractor’s pricing system.  Most clients find this to be a most informative process as it shows how well a builder can actually read and follow drawings and documentation, but also the pricing variations, which have been considerable in some cases – up to £200K on one particular project!   The detail design and tender stage will also weed out those contractors who are not up to the job, which can also lead to delays on site.

Procurement of a main contractor, tender documentation and tender action.

The culmination of the work in the previous stage, whereby the drawings and documentation are issued to contractors for pricing.  These are usually contractors that I have had previous positive experience of, as well as any that have been recommended to you by friends or family.  The contractors will need to be set up as main contractors, with full insurance to carry out the works.  They will be the single point of contact for the project, and will manage purchasing of materials and programming of the workforce.

On-site construction inspection and certification

Mobilisation and Site Works through to Practical Completion.  Agreeing start dates and programme.  Certification of Works.

 A contract is drawn up between the client and the main contractor.  This is based on a standard form of contract for construction works.  It contains the terms and conditions for the project, including payment terms and programme. A contract also allows for a retention of the contract sum, so 5% is deducted from each certificate as security.  Half of this amount is released at Practical Completion, which is the point at which the project is complete enough to allow it to be used as intended.  On a day to day basis, an architect will this attend to the coordination of the works with external suppliers (eg doors, kitchens, sanitaryware chosen by client) as well as Certifying of the works for payment to the contractor and agreeing the final accounts between all parties. This will also ensure that unforeseen issues (a necessary risk when dealing with existing buildings and any underground works) are dealt with and priced fairly.


Any minor works to be carried out are completed and certified. The remaining 2.5% of the contract sum is retained for 3/6 months (dependant on size of project) when the contractor returns to rectify any defects.  Major issues will be tended to as they arise during this period.  The final accounts are agreed and the Completion Certificate is issued.

The above lists are only guidelines. Services are tailored to suit the project, budget and specific client requirements, so it is best to contact me for further information.


Architect’s fees are based on the approximate size, cost and complexity of the project and is generally reflected as a percentage of the project build cost. The only exception to this is the survey, which is carried out as a separately costed task, since the existing property can vary in size in relation to the actual works.

We progress projects stage by stage, as detailed in the list above, since the scope will change between the concept and detail design workstages.

Fees are generally based on a percentage of the project value, with the workstages up to tender stage based on a projected cost for the design at that point. After actual figures are obtained, the subsequent work stage fees are based on these actual figures. Fee rates are based upon the regional fee surveys carried out annually by Mirza and Nacey.  Invoices are submitted in advance of the workstage and billed on a monthly cycle, based on projected cost and length of the workstage.  There may be a catch-up invoice at the end of the workstage, if there are any major changes to the design brief or scope of works.

The RIBA website includes a downloadable guide to working with an architect, including guidance to fees.