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The Architectural Planning Process

Are you planning an extension to your house? Or, perhaps a loft conversion? If so, you’ll have considered an architect to help with ideas, fine-tune the design and help manage the build.

Every extension or conversion project is different, but there are several customary stages in the architectural planning process. Below, you’ll find our outline of each stage so you know what to expect.

The 7 Step Planning Process

Step 1 – Initial Brief and Quote

The first stage involves meeting your architect to discuss the project brief. The architect will get an understanding of what you want to achieve as well as your budget. They will also want to learn which parts of the project are most important to you. With this information, they can give you a quote.

Step 2 – Initial Design Sketches

Once appointed to the project, the architect will start creating initial designs for your review and approval. This may include physical or 3D virtual models. It’s at this stage that the architect will consider things like finish, lighting, how to make best use of the available space, and how to give the project a “wow” factor. The architect will also consider the planning and Building Control implications of the project.

Step 3 – Create Formal Designs

Once you approve the initial concept sketches, the architect will draw up the project in CAD. This can be used to submit plans to the planning authorities and to Building Control. Not all extension or conversion projects require planning permission, but almost all need Building Control approval. Your architect can advise on what is required in your circumstances. These construction documents also enable contractors to prepare bids for the project.

Step 4 – Planning and Building Control Submission

If your project requires planning permission, the architect will make the submission and will deal with the approval process on your behalf. Once planning approval is granted, the architect will apply to Building Control. Building Control officers must inspect the work at various stages of development, but this initial submission gets the process started.

Step 5 – Appointing a Contractor

Appointing a building contractor starts by launching a tender process. The architect will invite multiple builders to tender with the aim of getting three to five quotes. It’s then necessary to consider the quotes while looking at things like previous work history, price, and proposed payment schedule. Normally, the cheapest quote is rarely the best. In fact, most low bids end up costing just as much, and sometimes more, than the other bids received. Once a contractor is chosen, the architect will facilitate the signing of a contract.

Step 6 – Project Manager

It’s normal for the architect to change focus at this stage to take on a project management role rather than a design role. This involves creating a schedule with deadlines for completing various stages of the build as well as other key dates. It also involves dealing with the financial side of the project (i.e. ensuring that the contractor and any separately appointed sub-contractors or suppliers are paid) and handling any problems that arise. Any extra components or touches you ask for are also properly costed, planned for, and confirmed in writing.

Step 7 – Handover

Once the project’s snag list has been completed, the work is complete, and you’re completely happy, the final stage is the handover. This is when you’ll be given all the necessary paperwork (manuals, certificates, etc.).

Throughout the process, your architect is there to add value to the design, save you money, and ensure that the project gets completed on time and within budget.