SERVICES / COSTS

Competitive, professional and friendly.

SERVICES PROVIDED: Feasibility studies / Outline designs / Planning applications / Listed Building applications / Building warrant drawings /Measured building surveys /  Contract +  Site Monitoring / Tendering / 3-D Modelling/  Project management.

FOR: Residential /Conservation +Listed buildings /Retail +commercial buildings/ Schools.

ADVICE FOR CHOOSING AN ARCHITECT

Any practicing Architect must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). This will ensure you have a fully qualified Architect working for you. The skills developed over 7 years of training are often undervalued, however many clients see the balance of technical and creative skills as indispensable in achieving the look, feel and space they want.

When considering an Architect, you must balance their costs against their ability to maximize your investment, so your investment will create value. This could be a financial rate of return or the intangible benefit perceived by great design. Ask to see examples of their previous work and if possible, arrange to visit finished projects and talk to previous clients. Choose the one who listens to you, you feel at ease with and who you think will provide best value. The relationship is critical and you want an Architect who will listen, ‘you need to be sure of their creativity and ability to get things done, as well as your ability to work together’… ‘good architecture needs collaboration and dialogue’.

Architects should  keep their clients fully informed of progress with their project, and to alert them straight away to any changes. Where changes to the agreed terms and conditions or service are necessary, the Architect should set these out in writing and make sure the client understands and agrees with them.

ARCHITECT’S FEES

Architect’s fees can be calculated in many ways and fees can be agreed for only partial services (e.g. to planning only or up to building warrant, see services below)

You must consider the Architect’s fee in light of the overall project cost including:

Planning fees, Building Control fees, engineer fees, construction costs, and miscellaneous fees such as existing building survey or ground bearing survey.

The Architect’s fee usually is expressed as a percentage of the construction, this can range from 4 -12% for full services from feasibility to site monitoring and is generally dependant on the construction cost (scale of project) and the complexity of the job. It is worth noting however,  a lump sum fee or hourly rate can also be negotiated. Before the fee can be agreed, both architect and client should establish:

– the project details and services to be provided (what)
– the procurement method (how)
– an approximate construction cost (how much approx.) At the early consultation and ideas stage, it is notoriously difficult to attach an accurate estimation of what the construction costs will be for any but the simplest building projects. Market conditions may change,  ambitions and quality vary
– the project timetable (when)

The Architect should set out the project details clearly, in writing, along with his or her terms and conditions of engagement and the procedures for the calculation and payment of fees and expenses.

Right at the outset of a project with an Architect it is important to be aware that if permissions or approvals are required from local authorities the decision is out of the Architect’s control and cannot be guaranteed. Similarly building products, or the performance and quality of the work of others cannot be guaranteed by the Architect. Projects can over-run due to any number of circumstances over which the Architect has no control, not least of which is bad weather.

SERVICES IN DETAIL

1. Site appraisal / Feasibility studies

Advising on rate of return or likelyhood of gaining planning consent. Feasibility studies highlighting key project risks and are particularly useful if you are building in the conservation area, using a listed building or dealing with a contentious proposal. A feasibility study is very useful for strategic analysis, securing bank loans and advising third party stakeholders.

2. Concept / Outline design

This is where an architect thrives! Providing initial designs to allow costs to be estimated or to give a solid design direction for the project. Based on a creative assessment of the opportunities of the existing building or site. An outline design  can be developed to meet exact requirements and remember, this is to be guided by and  must be approved by you! An Architect is trained to imagine and to see opportunity where others may not.  A great Architect understands: your needs, budget and planning /warrant constraints. The design should be tailored to these factors and embrace the constraints early in the design process.

3. Planning application / Listed building and conservation area consents

An Architect will provide detailed drawings of the project for planning application purposes. Again, before submission, this must be approved by you! A good architect will provide a convincing and persuasive package of information to allow the planning department to assess the visual and socio-economic impact  of the proposal (and to ask the neighbours what they think!)

Whilst the design will not be technically detailed or specified at this stage,  it will recognise this strategically so that design development will not be hampered. A good Architect will consult with planning before making the application. This will reduce the likelihood of refusal and/or redesign fees.

No Architect can guarantee that planning permission approval will be granted as these decisions rest with the local Authority. When engaged to submit an application, the Architect should consider any local authority guidelines and statutory requirements so it has the best chance of success. Sometimes exemptions to guidelines and similar provisions will have to be negotiated to achieve the best design solution for the project. The client will generally be responsible for providing the architect with accurate information about site boundaries, access and ownership rights.

The above extends of course to listed building and conservation area applications where  an Architects’ skill is critical in ensuring the quality of information and design is suitable in the historic context. Paying a lesser skilled professional can cost more in the long run.

4.Building warrant application

Most projects require a warrant submission to be made to Building Control (which is a different department from the planning department). A good Architect will anticipate the necessary information to be provided and this will reduce the lag time (typically 12 weeks). Information is required in technical format such as details, technical drawings and overview specification on issues such as fire safety, ventilation, thermal performance and drainage. This is a key phase when all technical decisions are made. It directly follows on from an approved planning application.

Every project for which permission is required will need approvals from both planning and building control departments. Application fees must be paid to the local authority for both planning and building regulations. The client usually pays these directly to the local authority, and not as part of the architect’s expenses.

5.Construction / Tender pack

Having achieved planning and warrant approved applications  you may consider appointing your Architect to develop the information for tendering to contractors. This involves a greater level of detail than required for Building Control. This is considered a  good investment as the purpose is to ensure all is detailed for  the contractor and that no unforeseen extra costs are raised on site, this could save money and bring greater cost certainty during the build.  Some clients opt to only secure a building warrant and manage the contract themselves, however, as stated,  cost inflation is  a greater risk.

6.Tendering/ Tender analysis

An Architect will have seen many tenders and as a result many tactics used by contractors in pricing work. Use an Architect issue the construction pack and form of tender to multiple Contractors. An Architect will assess Contractor’s prices and job suitability and they will give you an impartial assessment of the most suitable contractor for the job. This will include spotting exclusions, ambiguity of price and strategic omissions. An Architect can take the stress out of looking for reputable contractors as they will have good working relationships with many.

7.Contract administration / Monitoring construction

In every building project there is an agreement between the builder and the client (the person paying the contractor to build.) The role of the Architect in this instance is to ensure what is being paid for is being built and that both parties are being treated fairly and carrying out their duties. A contract is a vital document as it is a legally-binding commitment between the builder and the client to deliver the project. The Architect administers this contract impartially between both parties (client and contractor). The Architect will then be responsible for ensuring that the contract documentation is appropriate (there are many different types of  contract) and accurate and all items under the contract, such as variations and certificates, are properly signed and issued.

He or she will carry out periodic site visits to monitor progress. The Architect will make a professional judgment regarding the required frequency of these visits, unless an alternative programme of visits has been agreed with the client. The day-to-day supervision of the build itself will be the responsibility of the contractor, who is also responsible for ensuring that the structure is built in compliance with the building contract, the planning permission, building regulations and health and safety requirements.

An Architect engaged to monitor construction of the project will be responsible for checking that the construction conforms to the planning permission and building regulations and all stages are properly completed to a satisfactory standard of workmanship. This will involve periodic site visits to monitor progress visually, but will not normally involve the Architect in detailed checking of dimensions or testing materials. The contractor, on site, will supervise the work on a day-to-day basis and be responsible for the proper carrying out and completion of construction works and for health and safety provisions on the site. Some Architects will offer more detailed inspection services for an additional fee. If the Architect is neither administering the contract, nor monitoring the construction, he or she may undertake site visits at the client’s request, in order to advise on progress. In this role of project adviser, it is understood that the Architect will be acting for the client, and not in the neutral, impartial role required of a contract administrator or construction overseer.

Project Management.

You may look for a more holistic project management from your Architect, to appoint consultants, to negotiate with contractors, to be your agent and not solely your Architect. This gives you peace of mind a construction professional that has your interests at heart is taking care of your project holistically.

If you wish to discuss any service in more detail. Phone 01412232775 or email: info@axnarchitecture.co.uk

AXN Architecture ltd. Is a fully registered and insured office using up to date processes and software. We provide full design and project management services from inception to completion on large and small projects including  domestic, commercial and listed buildings.We are experts in refurbishment, extension and new-build including listed building and conservation work.

We provide a Free consultation,  site visit and quotation.