Frequently Asked Questions & Answers
Do I need an architect?
Unless your project is very simple it makes sense to at least talk to an architect for advice before you get going. Generally architects begin to offer a full service for projects with a budget of £50,000 or more, but for a smaller fee an architect can help you get the best out of your project in the early stages, regardless of size and whether they are needed later on. Most architects offer one-off consultations and these can be incredibly useful. They will give you guidance on all aspects of your project from design and cost through to planning and construction. In a short space of time you can gain valuable insight to help you realise your project. If you need planning permission it is likely that you will need an architect.
Why should I choose a RIBA Chartered Practice?
Only architectural practices that meet a strict eligibility criteria can register as a RIBA Chartered Practice. All RIBA accredited Chartered Practices: • employ a required number of individual RIBA Chartered Architects • have appropriate Professional Indemnity Insurance • have an effective Quality Management system • have comprehensive Health and Safety and Environmental policies in place • are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with a Code of Practice in a manor appropriate to their status.
How do I pick the right architect?
Clients often appoint an architect who is known to them or who has been recommended, or whose work they admire. This can be a sensible approach, unless you need a range of particular skills and services to match your requirements more precisely, in which case a more structured process of selection is recommended. Look for a practice with experience of your type of project or one that shares your aspirations. Check how many similar projects they have built, their contacts with the local planning department and their track record of approvals. Follow up their references to find out about how well they communicated, how responsive they were to changes, and how effective they were at managing the budget. Speak to each firm on your shortlist, describe your project and ask if they have the capacity to take it on. If so, request literature that outlines the firm’s qualifications and experience. Visit their website. Ask to see a portfolio of work, or to visit finished buildings. Above all, get to know your intended architect. It is important to ensure that you are compatible. Your architects must convince you of their creative thinking and their ability to get things done.
Should I expect to pay for the first meeting?
At RBD we don’t charge for an initial meeting. We are happy to come and visit the property to discuss the project and give you our initial thoughts free of charge.
How much does it cost?
Our fees will vary depending on the location and complexity of the project and level of service expected from RBD. The cost of a project will depend on several different variables including complexity of the design, extent of structural works and level of fixtures, fixing and material finishes. We can base our charges on a percentage of a total project cost, others clients prefer as a fixed price lump sum or on a time charge basis. How much or how little you commission our services is up to you – from an initial design discussion through to the final delivery of the project on site.
How do I employ an architect?
A good working relationship between architect and client is crucial to the success of any project. At RBD we discuss and agree the scope and cost of architectural services before the project begins and ensure that the agreement is in writing. To help clients who are embarking on smaller building projects RIBA has published the Domestic Project Agreement which is suitable for use where work is required on your home.
How do I know if I need planning permission?
Our architects will advise you on all the approvals needed, but if you would like to find out more then you can visit the Government’s Planning Portal website. www.planningportal.co.uk
How long will it take to obtain planning permission for my project?
The standard consideration period for a residential project is eight weeks, this is the official time frame for your local council to carry out consultation with the neighbours and reach a decision. We recommend allowing for a minimum of ten weeks from submission to decision as in practice the process always takes slightly longer for the following reasons:
- 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.
Validation can take anything from a few days to couple of weeks when the council is very busy, which is most of the time…
- 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.
While there are some effective measures to apply pressure, which we do not hesitate to use when appropriate, it is generally beneficial for the project to bear with the council a little 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.
What are my health and safety obligations?
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects. The regulations changed in April 2015 and apply to both domestic and commercial clients.
These place a duty on the client to make suitable arrangements for managing a project, principally making sure duty holders are appointed (ie a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor).
What form of building contract should I use?
With planning approval in place, RBD can recommend an appropriate form of building contract and will prepare drawings with technical specifications that describe your agreed proposals, for selected builders to cost.
How do I maintain control over the quality of the build?
The contract administrator is the individual responsible for administering the construction contract. Unless you appoint someone to this role, this will become your responsibility. Appointing an architect as your contract administrator provides quality control over the build. They can carry out regular inspections, deal with queries, instruct any additional work required, monitor progress on site, keep track of cost, value works and certify payments due to the builder.
What is the project process I will go through?
All projects go through more or less the same process, starting with the initial briefing; through to design development; preparing documentation for planning permission where required; producing the technical drawings for building regulations and construction purposes; tendering and finally construction and handover.
At RBD Architecture & Interiors we use The RIBA Plan of Work 2013 which sets out these stages and is used by the industry as standard. Architectural Design Services
What do I do if I have a question?
The RBD Architecture & Interiors team is here to help you with your project. If you have any questions please contact us on +44(0)207 193 7245 or email firstname.lastname@example.org