FAQS

Our most common queries.

I would like to add an extension to my house. Do I need to engage an architect?

I can offer a free initial consultation of up to 1 hour either over the phone, via email or a short meeting to discuss your project requirements.

You can check if the proposed extension would be within the permitted development limits on the government’s planning website:

https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200125/do_you_need_permission

The Local Authority publishes advice for planning applications and planning permission is often required when your site lies within a designated area, such as An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or a Conservation Area, regardless of whether the proposal is within the permitted development limits.

An architect can advise on permitted development rights and various constraints on development, such as designated areas.

If a planning application is required, an architect can produce the necessary drawings and documents, including completion of application form, serving notices on adjoining owners (if necessary) and submit online. Even if a planning application is not required, an architect can produce drawings for an application for Building Regulations approval or for costing and construction purposes.

If you are proposing altering or extending an existing building, a measured building survey and topographical site survey would be required before the proposal drawings are commenced. These are produced using the latest laser scanning technology by a Site Surveying firm and can also record all services and drainage on a site. These drawings are issued electronically to the architect who then adapts the existing drawings into proposed drawings, e.g. showing demolition of buildings, adding extensions etc.

The Planning Application drawings would comprise a site plan, floor / roof plans, cross sections, elevations, drainage layouts and a site location plan. The drawings would be at an appropriate scale, e.g. 1:100 or 1:50 and show all internal layouts, external elevation features and materials, both existing and proposed. Occasionally, a Design and Access Statement is required.

All drawings are produced using the latest versions of computer aided design (CAD) software and issued as pdf files to the client via email as the scheme progresses to allow regular feedback and revisions, according to the clients’ requirements ‘The Project Brief’.

What services do you provide and what are your fees?

Any agreement between an architect and client would be in writing using a standard RIBA Form of Agreement which would set out details of the project, services, fees, architect’s professional indemnity insurance, method of resolving disputes etc.

Fees are charged either as a lump sum, percentage of the construction cost (if known) or time charge. At the early stages of a project, a time charge is usually appropriate until the Project Brief and initial designs are complete. This would be accompanied by an approximate timescale for each stage, e.g. To Planning Application stage, Building Regulations Application stage etc.

Following on from the Planning Application stage, an architect would produce a set of drawings and specifications for an application for Building Regulations approval. These would show how the building complies with the Building Regulations standards. Each of the parts of the Building Regulations guidance, known as the ‘Approved Documents’ can be found on the government’s website:

https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200128/building_control

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) place duties on domestic and commercial clients for managing health, safety and welfare on construction projects. You will need to make suitable arrangements for managing a project, principally making sure duty holders are appointed, i.e. a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor.

Further guidance can be found on the HSE website:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/index.htm

An architect can normally take on the role of Principal Designer under the CDM Regulations 2015.

Upon receipt of Building Regulations approval, a client can either engage a contractor direct, using an appropriate Building Contract, or request architectural services during the construction stage, i.e. producing tender documents or negotiating a price with a contractor and contract administration. The architect can carry out site inspections, respond to queries from the contractor, instruct any additional work required, monitor progress on site, value works and certify payments due to the contractor.

My property is a listed building. How can an architect help me realise my plans?

If your house or property is a listed building, it is a legal requirement to obtain Listed Building Consent before carrying out any demolition, alterations or extensions. Planning permission may also be required depending on the work involved. (See response to Q1 above.) An application for Listed Building Consent will include detailed drawings of internal and external alterations, e.g. joinery details of repairs or replacement of windows etc., specifications e.g. types of mortar and method statements describing the work involved. Also, a Heritage Statement will usually be required.

The proposals will be assessed by the Local Authority Conservation Officer and Historic England may also be consulted.

An architect can produce the necessary drawings including floor plans, cross sections, elevations and detail drawings together with specifications of materials and method statements.

You can find out if your building is listed by consulting the Local Authority or Historic England, using the online search:

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/

 

It is possible that you could obtain a Grant of Listed Building Consent subject to Conditions, whereby further details are submitted during the progress of the works, and before those elements are commenced, for approval by the Local Authority Conservation Officer.

An architect can assist the client and contractor, during the Construction Phase, in meeting these Conditions and undertake site inspections to check the progress of the work. See also response to Q1.

Do I need to engage any other specialists or consultants for a domestic building project?

You may need to engage the following specialists or consultants during the Pre-Construction Phase:

Site surveyor – For measured building survey and topographical site survey.

Contamination surveyor – If contamination is suspected on the site, e.g. change of use of an agricultural building to residential unit(s), the Local Authority will require a Contamination Assessment to be submitted prior to any decision being reached.

Ecologist – Where there are protected species on the site, e.g. bats or barn owls, the Local Authority will require an Ecological Assessment to be submitted prior to any decision being reached.

Party wall surveyor – If the proposal affects a party wall (a shared wall between 2 properties under different ownerships), a party wall surveyor may need to be consulted, before any building work is carried out.

Structural engineer – If work includes structural alterations to an existing property, new foundations, retaining walls, timber floors, roof, steelwork or any other structural design work, drawings and calculations will need to be submitted and passed by the Building Control Body (either the Local Authority or an Approved Inspector).

Quantity surveyor – If detailed costings are required for a building project.

Drainage specialist – For site specific issues, e.g. non-mains drainage.

Asbestos surveyor – For an asbestos management or refurbishment survey if asbestos is suspected to be present in an existing building.

SAP Assessor – For new build dwellings and dwellings formed by change of use, it is a requirement to undertake a SAP and EPC Report in accordance with Part L of the Approved Documents, the guidance on the Building Regulations.

Air Pressure Testing – For new build dwellings, it is a requirement to undertake an Air Pressure Test in accordance with Part L of the Approved Documents.

Acoustic Testing – For new build dwellings and dwellings formed by change of use, it is a requirement to undertake Acoustic Testing in accordance with Part E of the Approved Documents.

Do your fees for architect’s services include expenses and disbursements?

The fees exclude expenses such as mileage, printing and copying of drawings and documents, etc. and disbursements, such as payments to the Local Authority for Planning Applications and Applications for Building Regulations Approval.

Fees for Planning Applications and Building Regulations Applications can be found on the Local Authority website, under the Environment and Planning section.

I would like to convert an existing building (e.g. barn or chapel) to residential unit(s). How can an architect assist?

This project would require a Full Planning Application to be submitted to the Local Authority with a complete set of As Existing and As Proposed drawings, a Design and Access Statement and possibly other surveys such as a Contamination Survey, Ecological Survey, Structural Survey and Asbestos Survey, depending on the nature of the buildings and site.

Building Regulations approval will be required together with the testing described in the response to Q3. Specialist surveys such as a Timber and Damp Survey may also be required, depending on the buildings e.g. areas below ground level, timber roof structures etc.

I would like to build a new annexe within my property boundary. How can an architect assist?

An architect can assist in the preparation of your list of requirements and information about the site, the Project Brief. They would advise on any surveys or investigations required, such as a topographical site survey and any other client appointments.

They would prepare a Concept Design for discussion and advise on any foreseeable health and safety risks associated with the project as required under the CDM Regulations 2015.

On agreement of the Concept Design, they would liaise with any other client appointments to produce the drawings and documents for a Planning Application. This could include an Explanatory Statement providing justification for an annexe.

Following the Planning Application Stage, they would prepare the drawings and specifications for an Application for Building Regulations approval and advise on other client appointments, such as a structural engineer and the tests required for the application (see response to Q3).

I would like to build a new house. Can an architect assist?

The architectural services outlined in the RIBA Domestic Professional Services Contract 2018 could be used as a basis for the agreement. This includes: Preparation and brief, Concept design, Developed design, Technical design, Construction and Handover. See the link below:

https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/resources-landing-page/riba-domestic-professional-services-contract-2018

You can commission either a partial service. E.g. Up to Planning Application Stage, or a full service.

This type of contract is suitable where you will be building your own home as a residential occupier.

As sites vary across the South-West (from coastal sites to inland, urban or rural), I recommend having an initial discussion about the project, either over the phone, via email or a short meeting.

I would like to develop a property into flats or a holiday let. Can an architect assist?

The architectural services outlined in the RIBA Concise Professional Services Contract 2018 could be used as a basis for the agreement. This includes: Preparation and brief, Concept design, Developed design, Technical design, Construction and Handover. See the link below:

https://www.architecture.com/knowledge-and-resources/resources-landing-page/riba-concise-professional-services-contract-2018

You can commission either a partial service. E.g. Up to Planning Application Stage, or a full service.

This type of contract is suitable where you will be acting for a business or commercial purposes.

As sites vary across the South-West (from coastal sites to inland, urban or rural), I recommend having an initial discussion about the project, either over the phone, via email or a short meeting.