FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


Why engage an Architect? 

Whether you are planning to build a new house, alter or extend your present home, employ a builder or just do it yourself, it makes sense to consult an Architect.

As Architects we can help you realise your ambitions and guide you through the design and construction process. We provide a service that extends well beyond producing a set of drawings. We can handle the paperwork, bring value for money, imagination and peace of mind to your project. 

We provide a tailored solution to your needs in which you can be as involved in or separated from as you wish. 

We can oversee your project from design stage - building regulations - through to completion of your project, being your liaison with the building contractor.

Dependant on how involved you wish to become you can have us manage all or (should you be a self builder or find certain areas too complex) , only the parts of the project that you don’t wish to deal with.   

If you have any queries - call us. 

Working with an architect for your home - RIBA publication 

Commissioning Architecture - RIBA publication 

What we can do for you?

We have the experience to see your project successfully through to completion. We can oversee the design, assist with the approvals process, manage the build and keep track of your budget.

Preparation

Consulting us at the earliest stage will allow us to gain a real feel for your needs so that together we can establish a clear brief and a realistic budget. This will help reduce the overall design costs and help minimise any potential problems early on.  Please see our - how to set the Design Brief article - link below. 

Developing the design

We will work with you to develop designs that will interpret your ideas imaginatively, maximise your investment, ensure your project is cost effective and can help add real value to your home. We will come up with a range of ideas for you to discuss, develop and refine together.

 

The Approvals Process

We can help with the approvals required before your project can go ahead, including preparation of applications to the local authority for planning consent (where needed) and for Building Regulations plans approval (which covers the functional requirements of buildings to safeguard the health and safety of the people using them, energy conservation, access and convenience for people with disabilities).

 

Construction Phase

Guiding you through the construction phase we can help you select suitable builders, obtain appropriate prices for construction, monitor progress and standards, supervise safety on site, liaise with other specialists and oversee the construction through to successful completion.

Cooking up a storm for your project   

How much will it cost? 

As your project will be unique to you, our fees will vary depending on the size and complexity of your project and the services that you require. 

Value for money

We are professional problem-solvers. Our experience and insight can help stretch what can be achieved within your budget and add value to your project. We can suggest new ways of utilising space and light, enrich the palette of materials, finishes or fittings, and propose design solutions that will reduce your overall running costs whilst maximising the energy efficiency of your home. At a fraction of the cost of your project, our fees will prove a sound investment.

Cost

We have three ways of charging our fees, which are as follows, 

  1. A flat rate,  we can do this once we have established the amount of work involved
  2. A percentage of the estimated overall project cost, this is for larger/ more complex projects.
  3. As an hourly rate for very small projects, this is used where the complexity of the work does not correlate  to the size of the project, and/ or the amount of work involved can not be reasonably estimated at the start of the project

For most clients your home is your biggest single investment. and our fees are small in comparison to the overall cost. When you reflect upon the cost of employing us and the value we can bring to your project, you will find that our fees by far outweigh the ‘so-called’ benefits of undertaking a project without the guidance of a professional architect.

Domestic Clients 

The Project Process

We provide much more than just the drawings for your home. We can provide a tailored solution to meet your needs, which you can be as involved in, or separated from as much as you wish. 

If you choose to have a full service, we can take you through the entire project, to completion or work with you only on the services that you wish for. 

Commercial Clients

Project Process Commercial

Good advice has its price but the cost of skimping on design quality is far higher. Design fees will usually constitute just a small fraction of the total construction cost and pale into insignificance when measured against the operating costs over the lifespan of a building. High quality design can reduce those operating costs by maximising the efficiency of the building. A building that has received the input of design professionals right from the start will result in greater value in the long term.

Can a small practice deal with my project? 

Architecture firm Mainwood Architects  steering your project

Architecture firm Mainwood Architects  steering your project

When working in larger practices,  architects usually are working on several projects at once.  With MA being a smaller practice, it allows us to maintain creative control, responding  quickly to a clients demands – we give every project our full attention and will deal with you on a one to one basis. Giving you a personal service.  As most offices,  staffing levels fluctuate to cater for project work loads and our relationship with other disciplines enable large projects to be dealt with in a professional and efficient manner.  

 

 

As most offices,  staffing levels fluctuate to cater for project work loads and our relationship with other disciplines enable large projects to be dealt with in a professional and efficient manor  

How long will the project take? 

This depends on the size and complexity of your project. Our work is mainly completed prior to building work beginning on site, and this can take several months due to the time scale of the local authorities applications.

Should a quick build time be required, we can design this in to the scheme, so that quick building methods can be employed to get a shell completed within a shorter time than traditional (sometimes cheaper) construction methods.

Why do I need Planning / Building control approval? 

Planning permission is required for building work so that the local Council can keep control over development in the area. 

If you are a householder, you may be able to extend your home under permitted development rights without gaining planning permission. This varies by the type of house you have, your proximity to neighbours and the effect it may have on them. Using permitted development rights to extend your property does however limit the type of extension you can have.

Building Regulations plans approval is required to administer the Building standards - this covers the functional requirements of buildings to safeguard the health and safety of the people using them, energy conservation, access and convenience for people with disabilities

Planning approval and Building regulation approval is usually valid for three years – both of which can be extended. We recommended that all approvals are obtained prior to work commencing at your property. 

You will find more detailed information on the above on your local Council’s website. 

When is Listed building  / Conservation area consent required?

Listed building & Conservation area consent is required for building work so that the local Council can again keep control over buildings of historic value, and maintain/control architectural characteristics of a particular development in the area. 

If you live in a Listed Building any alterations that you wish to make require listed building consent

Certain Conservation areas still maintain permitted development rights, should you choose to have a modest extension complying with these; however more restrictive conservation area permitted development rules may apply if you live in a conservation area with an article 4 directive on the Conservation Area. 

How much do the council charge for Planning  /Building regulations applications?

Planning fees are regulated and are a standard price dependant on what you wish to complete, and do not include VAT - please see link 

Planning application Fees

Building regulation fees alter from council to council, but are usually based on a scale of fees dependant on cost or size of build. These are subject to VAT.

What are the other costs?

The RIBA work stages outlines the process of the building sequence from initial analysis, through design, construction and evaluation of your final project. If you're a homeowner you will want the services A/B to F to begin with, and you may choose to go further depending on how involved with the build you wish to get. 

Aside from our costs and the costs of the planning and building regulation applications, below outlines some of the additional costs that may occur along the way. 

You may be required to submit additional reports to the council such as the following, should the council think that they are going to be affected by this on the site.

TOPOGRAPHICAL 

Topographical surveys (equivalent of a contour map of your site) 

This shows the levels of the land on the proposed site, also picking up positions of trees, manholes and structures.

ARBORICULTURAL

Arboriculturalist report (tree condition survey) 

This will report on the general condition of the trees on site, remediation work required & how the trees would be affected by the proposal.

ECOLOGICAL

Ecological surveys (Environmental impact, including bats, badgers, etc) 

This is used to see how the proposals would impact certain species of interest, i.e. animals or other plant life. 

These considerations shall be made during the planning application stage - when considering the proposals. 

Following Planning approval, you may have planning conditions imposed upon you which could require the reports above, or further details, plans,  drawings, detailing the application to be to the approval of the Planning department. 

STRUCTURAL REQUIREMENTS

Building regulations will require structural drawings and calculations of the property, highlighting the changes and structural needs. This will need to be completed by a STRUCTURAL ENGINEER. 

SAP CALCULATIONS

These are required - should you have a new build or have chosen to have a large expanse of glass in an extension. This is a framework for calculating the energy consumption of buildings. 

QUANTITY SURVEYOR

Depending on the size of your project and what your requirements are, you may wish to appoint a QS  who’s job is to make accurate cost reports to you throughout the duration of your project in order to provide cost certainty.

PARTY WALL AGREEMENT

When you are building up to or making alterations to a party wall between you and your neighbour, we can request a party wall agreement from your neighbour, where they may require a party wall surveyor to make a document setting out the particulars of the work involved. 

As part of our services, we can put you in touch with recommended professionals in the fields mentioned above, or organise the required information to be submitted to the relevant body on your behalf. 

Party wall explanatory booklet