Work Stage 0: Project Strategy
The start of a project begins with a conversation. Through a process of asking questions and taking note of your preferences we come to identify the brief. Why did you buy this property and was there something about it you particularly liked? What would you like to achieve and what would be your dream outcome? We believe every project should start with the uppermost ambitions in mind.
We would like to visit the site with your aspirations in mind. What are the possibilities and how will they manifest themselves in this place?
We make an initial design assessment at this stage to determine what intervention is appropriate for your requirements and the site.
This stage is particularly important to set the tone of the project and for us to collaboratively define the project’s scope, design issues and desired project outcome including:
- Priorities: What are your priorities in terms of cost, quality and time?
- Sustainability: Any project has the scope to be at the highest possible level in terms of its energy performance, what measures could we include on your project?
- Programme: What is the time frame for the project? Are there any important milestones along the timeline?
Work Stage 1: Feasibility & Brief
We believe that Work Stage 1 is the most important stage of the project as it defines the client’s aspirations and maps out the trajectory of the project. This is the feasibility study.
We return to visit the site and surroundings to study them in more detail with your requirements in mind. We explore, observe, sketch, photograph and make note of anything of interest. The information we gather helps us consider how the brief will work and what opportunities exist. The combination of your brief realised against the peculiarities of the site makes each project unique.
Part of our appraisal in this stage incorporates a sustainability analysis. A wide range of sustainable measures can be incorporated into any scheme that will vastly improve the property’s energy performance. We believe that a vital part of design is to devise a strategy to weave this into the scheme from the outset.
An appraisal of the project’s cost is an important part of this stage. A quantity surveyor prepares an initial cost plan pertaining to the project’s likely costs.
We compile all of our findings into a comprehensive report that covers the following aspects of the project:
- Your core objectives, aspirations and spatial requirements.
- Our assessment of the site.
- Sustainability analysis.
- The assembly of the consultant team including the structural engineer, quantity surveyor and services consultant.
- Construction Costs.
The information contained within this report represents a valuable analysis to enable you to have a clear idea of what the project will entail and how it will proceed.
Work Stage 2: Concept Design
Work Stage 2 picks up on the initial sketch concepts and develops them in more detail to create a fully formed project brief. This is the project’s concept, bringing into focus what it is all about and the themes that bind it together.
Through meetings with yourself we discuss and assess the design as it evolves. Alternative design options are considered, explored and measured against the concept. This is very much a collaborative process of exploration in search for the best solutions.
Concept diagrams, sketches, 3D visualisations, sketch models, mood boards and material samples are all part of the resources we utilise to test the design and observe its implications. The special qualities of the project are what we are seeking to capture at this stage; What will the spaces look like? How do they feel and flow?
We also develop an approach to construction, structure and health and safety matters. We look at developing the strategies for sustainability and building regulations compliance. This added level of technical detail helps to refine the brief and ground the conceptual ideas.
Work Stage 3: Developed Design
Developed design is where a coordinated design really takes form. Just as the project’s inclination is set in the concept design stage, developed design looks at how this will actually come to fruition. We believe that the original concept should carry forth into even the smallest of details as they are all reflections of the project as a whole.
The involvement of consultants such as the structural and services engineer bring a dose of reality to the proceedings. Technical constraints and solutions can play just as active a part in the project’s language and we are keen to weave them into the fabric early on.
By the end of this stage the nature of the project in terms of its scope, relationship to its neighbours and the wider context will be defined, including how it will come to be realised. This is the level of information that will be required for any application to the local authority for planning permission and at times listed building consent.
The document we shall prepare for the approval submission sets out the purpose of the development, the justification of the design and how it relates to its surroundings. In our experience, the careful study of the site and surroundings undertaken in the earlier stages stands us in good stead with the applications we submit. This knowledge lends gravitas to why a project should be permitted. We are always present at meetings with the planners and listed building officers to explain the design scheme and its relevance.
Work Stage 4: Technical Design
With the local authority consents secured, the project moves into higher gear during Work Stage 4. We set in motion an intense period whereby the design team develops and describes the technical and finishes aspects of the scheme in full detail. Consultants, suppliers and other specialist fabricators enter the fray to refine exactly how everything will work and accord with the relevant regulations.
Above all, we have a number of meetings with yourself across a table piled high with samples and drawings, ensuring that everything that will be required for this project to be built is resolved and included.
The purpose of this refinement is to prepare a comprehensive set of drawings, schedules and documentation to issue to a select number of contractors for pricing. Considering all aspects of the design prior to construction means the chances of misunderstandings and cost overruns whilst on site are minimised.
The selection of a contractor is known as the tender process. The contractors apply their costs to the package of information we prepare following a visit to the site. The final part of this work stage is the awarding of the project to one contractor. Over a number of years we have built up an extensive network of trusted contractors, subcontractors and consultants that we would be happy to put forward for the project.
Work Stage 5: Construction
The chosen contractor takes possession of the site at the beginning of Work Stage 5 and the reality of construction gets under way. The design phase is complete and our role converts to what is known as the contract administrator.
Our role is to ensure that the design that we have evolved over the preceding stages will be implemented as we have specified. We visit the site at regular intervals as the project evolves into its built form and are at hand to respond to the contractor’s queries and make decisions. Often parts of the construction phase include manufactured items by specialists off site.
We record the progress of the build in the form of construction site reports and instructions given to the contractor. In addition, the assessments we make during our site also include the issue of payment certificates to the contractor. We detail how much we consider the contractor is due based upon the percentage of work completed satisfactorily on a monthly payment schedule.
Our role on site also includes meetings with the other specialist consultants including the structural and service engineers as well as building control inspections.
At completion issue the practical completion certificate when we deem the project fit for occupation. We report on any defects and agree the timetable for their rectification.
Work Stage 6: Rectification Period
At the end of the main construction works the contractor relinquishes the site and the property is handed over and ready for occupation. This is also the start of the Rectification Period.
This period extends for six months while you are in full occupation of the property. The intention is that over this period any residual movement or other defects that may lay hidden can come to light. The services have the chance to be fully tested across the seasons to ensure they all work as they should. A retention sum is held back from the contractor to cover this period.
At the end of this six month period we return to assess if any defects have come to light. These are set out in a schedule of defects and the contractor is obliged to remedy these according to an agreed timetable. The successful completion of any defects brings the project to a close and with this we issue the final certificate releasing the retention sum.
Work Stage 7: In Use
We would like to remain in contact with yourself to learn how your actual habitation of the property goes and how the building performs.
Ultimately, how you live in the space we have created is the purpose of the entire project and your experiences provide us with rich and valuable feedback. We are also happy to advise you on how best to use the building in accordance with the sustainability strategies that we have developed, especially as this is a continually evolving field of study.