Appointing an architect may appear daunting to many. After all, you’re putting your home (and dreams!) in our hands. That’s why we like to be clear about the way we work from the outset. It’s a step-way process that allows you to pick our services on a needs basis or – if required – employ us as total project managers. As always, the choice is yours…
Our Seven Steps to Homeowner Heaven…
Initial Meeting: No two customers (or houses) are ever the same. You may have something specific in mind (like that loft conversion you’ve been putting off for too long) or a vaguer recognition that you’re not making the most of your available space. Whatever the circumstance, we approach each and every client in the same way. We come to your home, assess the site, listen to your needs and discuss likely options in outline. (It’s a meeting that usually lasts 60-minutes or so.) We then come back to you with an initial report, outlining possible solutions, likely timings and broad cost parameters.
Design: On appointment, we then focus on the preferred way forward within the agreed budget, undertaking a measured survey and drawing up initial sketches for your comment and input. Once approved, our qualified architectural team will turn these into technical drawings which show the job specification in detail. (These are not only for use by yourself and your chosen builder but also have to satisfy planning and building regulations as required.) If needed, we also have the capability to provide 3-D and BIM (Building Information Management) modelling which provides additional detail for customers, builders and planning officers alike.
Planning Approvals and Building Regulations: Right at the outset, we will provide you with likely timings on the planning application and approvals' process for the work envisaged – typically some 8-12 weeks from submission dependent upon the local authority involved. (We also outline the respective timeframes required to prepare the packages prior to the actual submissions being made.) We will steer you through this process and also ensure that the recommended ‘build’ meets all statutory requirements such as structural strength, drainage, ventilation, sustainability and use of approved materials. Some clients opt to handle these submissions themselves but most leave the paperwork to ourselves to ensure true peace-of-mind.
Choice of Materials: As part of the detailed design process, we also advise on choice of materials for the actual construction, taking into account budget, aesthetics and the level of finish required. Such choices can have a significant impact on the price and look of the finished entity so we always ensure that our customers are fully aware of the options open to them. Just as importantly, the choice of materials will affect the longer-term maintenance costs of the build and – again - we are budget-conscious in this area, steering you towards options that will save money in the long run!
Choosing and Contracting a Builder (and other suppliers): As an established architectural practice, we have strong relationships with reputable builders across the capital and Home Counties. We are always happy to make recommendations or, if asked, oversee the entire contracting process. (Pricing will be transparent and open to competitive tender in either instance.) Alternatively, we are happy to leave this part of the project to yourself – giving advice on potential pitfalls along the way. We will also recommend or contract other suppliers on your behalf if required – surveyors, electricians or the specialist craftsmen your job may require. Again, flexibility is key. Our expertise is available if required but not a mandatory part of our customer relationships.
Actual Construction: If retained on an on-site management basis, we will agree the level of supervision required, the timeframe for completion, and the fixed-fee costs for this aspect of the project. Typically, we would monitor construction progress on a regular basis, ensuring that the work meets the quality standards, project specifications and building regulations we have put forward, ensuring that the initial vision that informed your design is always at the fore. (An approved building regulations inspector will also review progress of the build and we would liaise with them on your behalf as required.)
Finishing Touches: Now you’ve got that wonderful new space, what are you going to fill it with? Many clients are happy to add the finishing touches themselves. Others ask for our input here as well. Living in a design world 24/7, we have an eye for detail and are always happy to take over the internal décor aspect of a project at its end. From fabrics to furniture, lighting to that last lick of paint we’re on hand to help you make the choices that will bring your new room/s to life!
We have followed these principles since we formed Formed Architects in 2012, using it on well over 100 projects to date. It’s a process that has served us and our customers extremely well during that time and we are confident it will do the same for you. So, if you’re looking to improve your property with complete peace of mind, we’re always happy to help. Call Tina and Michael on 020 3601 3480 and start planning for a happier home right now…