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Contract Administration

What is Contract administration?

Contract Administration is a term you may or may not be familiar with. Sometimes referred to as Project Management, although the roles might appear similar there are some differences (we will discuss this later in this article)

Within the fields of Architecture & Construction a successful Contract Administrator will assume overall control and responsibility for driving the project forward.

A Contract Administrator on a construction project will use their skill and expertise to deliver the best result to the client (to use a cliché) ON TIME & ON BUDGET!

On a residential project, say a kitchen extension, they will be involved from start to finish.

They will not only design the project but also take care of:

  • Critical Form Filling
  • Negotiating with Planners & Building standards
  • Prepare Construction drawings
  • Issue Tender Documents
  • Assist Client to Select a Contractor
  • Supervise Construction
  • Obtain Completion Certificate
  • Oversee Contractor payments

A Contract Administrators role wont officially begin until there is a contract in place.

It is possible for someone to design the project and someone else to act a Contract Administrator, however, it makes sense, for obvious reasons that the same person act as designer and Contract Administrator.

A good Contract Administrator will ask questions to detect assumptions and resolve conflicts, sometimes before they arise.

One of the greatest advantages of hiring a Contract Administrator is that it reduces your risk as the client, a risk that may threaten the success of the project and rob you of the joy and excitement that investing in a project should bring.

The role involves managing the contract between the employer (The Client) and building contractor. Although employed by the client, the Contract Administrator ensures that the contract is fair, So, the Builder carries out his duties as per the contract and the Client pays the builder on time!

How Does a Contract Administrator Reduce Risk?

Risk usually rises from uncertainty, Contract administration can significantly reduce uncertainty from a construction project by implementing tried and tested processes at each step, for example at the pre-construction stage a thoroughly prepared document will be produced that details every element and item of the project, this leaves nothing to chance, hence reducing the risk of being lured in by an unrealistically low quote/price only to be hit later on with a large bill for ‘Extras’ that were not on the drawings.

This happens every stage of the project, risk reduction is checked and measured throughout the lifetime of the building project.

Who Acts as Contract Administrator?

Although the role of Contract Administrator has traditionally been filled by the Architect there are several professional who can fill this role, such as:

  • Architect
  • Architectural Technologist
  • Building Surveyor
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Structural Engineer

The role of the Contract Administrator will be determined by the type of contract used (There are many).

At Architects Atelier Ltd we are mainly involved in residential projects and use RIBA Domestic Project Agreement 2010 (2012 revision): Architect

See A sample contract here


Project Manager V Contract Administrator

There is sometimes confusion regarding these roles, so what is the difference between a Project Manager & Contract Administrator?

Project Manager

Well, the clue is kind of in the names, a project manager is more deeply involved, perhaps on a day to day basis, from the project inception through to completion. Often employed full time in this role.

Rarely is this a service that is required in residential building projects.

Contract Administration

A Contract Administrators role will officially begin when there is a contract in place, which may not necessarily be at the beginning of a ProJet, there may have been considerable design work done up to this point.

A Contract Administrator, as mentioned earlier can be someone different from the designer of the building project.

They will carry out site inspections at intervals required for the specific project (Normally weekly)

This service is particularly suited to residential building projects.

Why Should You use a Contract Administrator?

At Architects Atelier Ltd we spend many months working with you, developing your design and generally getting to know the finer points of your project inside out.

It makes sense to carry this over to the construction phase where we will be on hand to explain our design to the contractor’

We ultimately are working for our client’s satisfaction and want you to have the best experience possible during your building project, the chances are that you will only be doing this once and will be ploughing your hard-earned cash into this, so its critical that you make it as painless as possible and get it right.

We want to work with happy clients and don’t want you to have to fend for

Here is what we do:

  • We conduct Site Visits on a regular basis (normally weekly).
  • We confirm that the building contractor is carrying out work according to the design and
  • You want to avoid any unnecessary delays to the project, so we are on hand to iron out issues & conflicts that may arise and resole these quickly and effectively.
  • We Instruct interim payments to the contractor, so, therefore you only pay for the work that has been done to that
  • We liaise with Building Control throughout the construction
  • We assist you with preparing the snagging list and ensuring this work is carried that the Completion Certificate is issued.
  • We are responsible for health & safety (2015 CDM) regulations being
  • As professionals, it is our policy to be involved in the construction process of every project, namely to reduce risk, ensure our clients get the best experience and are protected as best as

The Cost of Contract Administration

The cost of Contract administration is very modest when compared to the cost of the construction, yet in some respects this element Is more important.

It can be the cost of not having a Contract Administrator that is greater. What do we mean?

Well, in our experience the cost emotionally and financially can be devastating, a price in £, s cannot be put on the emotional turmoil & stress you go through when things go badly wrong during a construction project, it can consume you.

The risk financially is much greater without a Contract administrator, for example there will be no list of works document that details every item and element of a project, there will be no experienced eye to ensure that the contractor is using the right materials, you will find that things run better with site supervision.

We want to tell you this, no to frighten you, but to make you aware of the risk of not having this and realising there is something that you can do about this.

In our experience, the cost of hiring us for this stage pays for itself in terms of the value, expertise and risk reduction by means of us to you not to mention the money you can save by having a very specific costing schedule and a contract.

Given that it’s your home and probably your single biggest asset, we have really started to emphasise the need for this service.

In Review

  • This means that we prepare full construction specification and costings for tender documents, these get issued to at least 3 contractors which I review with you before we select a suitable


  • Once construction is underway we provide site supervision (generally site visit once per week and phone calls, emails etc) by administering the contract between you and the


  • At the end of the works we obtain the completion certificate and ensure that any snagging is carried out to a satisfactory

You will be then free to enjoy your new space!

Further reading

Contract Administration Guidance Notes (see link below)

http://www.rics.org/Global/Downloads/Contract_administration_1st_edition_ PGguidance_2011.pdf

Ask the Expert 


If you have questions about Contract administration or need advice about your project, take advantage of our FREE 20 minute ‘Ask the Expert’ call, click here to book your call.

Selecting a Residential Architect

This is a quick Blog/Check List on Selecting your Architect for your project. Please feel free to contact us to obtain a copy of: How to Choose your Architect which goes into the below in finer detail.


Does the architect have experience in land analysis and site selection in your market?

Does the architect have a mortgage expert and/or estate agent they can recommend?

Do you like the architect’s work?

Does it show high-level creativity and problem solving?

Does the architect have a range of work, or a singular style? Do you feel that you can communicate openly and effectively with the architect?

Do you feel that the architect is listening to your needs?

Is your potential architect registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB), and are they a member firm of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)?

Many offering architectural services are not licensed architects and have not gone through the rigorous schooling, internship and testing (which can take up to 12 years).

Is your architect familiar with any particular rules or regulations that impact the design of your new home?

Do they have at least 10 years of professional experience?

Has your architect won any awards or been featured in any publications?

Does your architect understand sustainable architecture including rainwater collection, geothermal, solar and zero net energy homes?

Does your architect have personal experience as a builder or developer, so that they intimately understand the construction process?

Is your architect committed to life-long learning? Do they attend seminars and industry conventions?

Does your architect sit down and provide you with a roadmap of your entire project prior to being hired, or do they just give you a proposal for their services?

Design Approach

Does your architect clearly articulate what the design process is going to look like, how long it is going to take and what deliverables you will receive?

Does your architect provide you with 3D models and visualisation from the start of the design process, or does that come later on in the project?

Does your architect provide photo-realistic renders or just screen shots of the model?

Architecture is an art and a science. Does your architect seem to have an artistic flair and also a certain level of precision?

Their artistic side might be revealed by how they dress and their precision might be evidenced by the questions that they ask or their level of knowledge of specific minutiae, such as building science.

Does your architect understand how a building can impact the health of its’ occupants and how to build a “healing building”?

Personal Attitude

Does your architect talk to you as a peer or do they “talk down to you”?

Does your architect dictate “this is the way it is” or do they take the time to explain their reasoning?

Is your architect someone you’d want to grab a beer with? Is this going to be pleasant and fun?

Are you Ready to Start a Conversation about Your Dream Project?

We’re ready to help make your vision a reality. To get started, give us a call at 01322 837810 or an email at info@thearchitectsatelier.com today!


A Beginner’s Guide to Loft Conversions

Whether it’s to add a new master bedroom suite,  self-contained accommodation for guests or an au pair. Or to create a home-working environment, converting a loft into a habitable space has become a hugely popular way to add more room(s). This beginner’s guide should help you avoid common conversion pitfalls and make the most of your loft.

Find the space you need

While it’s sometimes possible to find the extra room you need within your home by reorganising what you already have. If you want to add a whole new room (or rooms), usually the most cost-effective way to do this is to convert a loft space.

Compared to an extension, which will typically involve expensive foundations and groundworks, a loft conversion is built onto a structure that is already in place, so it will usually be cheaper, quicker and easier to achieve.

Simply convert

Technically, a loft ‘conversion’ is where the space above bedroom ceilings and beneath a pitched roof is converted from a non-habitable, dusty, uninsulated space for storing suitcases into a habitable room (or rooms).

To do this, typically both the roof and floor will need additional structural strength, insulation will have to be added, some daylight will need to be allowed in (often with a roof window) and a new staircase will be required.

If your loft space has enough height (Take a measurement from the bottom of the ridge timber to the top of the ceiling joist; the useable part of the roof should be greater than 2.2m. Then this can really be a very simple building operation indeed and can add charming and effective new space to your home. NOTE: Building Regulations Currently has no minimum height for habitable rooms, AAL however do not recommend loft conversions where the final ceiling height is going to be the height of a door as it will feel loft and confined.

Convert and extend

A loft ‘extension’ is where the loft space is enlarged – most commonly with the addition of a dormer window.

Instead of a roof window, which slopes with the roof, a dormer window is an external construction that forms a vertical wall into which a window can be built with side ‘cheeks’ and a little roof of its own, as pictured here.

Dormers do not enlarge the floor area as such, but the effect of them is to create more internal height and volume, meaning that in areas that would otherwise be too low to stand up in, you can have much more usable space.

Go for more space inside

Choosing a flat-roofed dormer, as can be seen on the side of this house, will give you more headroom and volume inside.

Flat-roofed dormers also tend to be cheaper to construct and, as such, are more frequently used than pitched-roof dormers.

Be box clever

When a flat-roofed dormer is enlarged so that it forms much – or even the full width – of a house, it is called a ‘box-dormer’. These really maximise the potential space internally and are certainly the best way, in most instances, to get great upstairs space. Typically, for cost reasons, these will be built with fairly small windows and roof tiles hung on their vertical faces as an exterior wall finish. However, their appearance (and effectiveness) can be greatly enhanced by choosing full-height glazing, as seen here. Light will flood in and you’ll get great views, too.

Plan ahead for planning

Despite what you might have heard, if you are going to extend your roof you will need Planning Permission. However, there is a mechanism that will give the vast majority of houses automatic permission for a loft extension within certain limits – this is called ‘Permitted Development’.

Permitted Development allows roof extensions without the need for a planning application as long as (broadly*) they are not on the front pitch of your roof, do not exceed the highest point of your roof and stay within certain volume limits. However, the section on extending roofs does not apply in conservation areas and flats have no Permitted Development rights at all.

*The various rules can get quite complex and then there is supplementary guidance on interpretation of the rules and case law where interpretation has been tested. Accordingly, it is really important to get some informed professional advice to make sure that your plans stay within the various limitations. Please talk we us here at Architects Atelier Ltd if you need such advice.

Remember Building Regulations

Many people confuse the need for Planning Permission with the Building Regulations. These are completely separate requirements and each need to be satisfied. While planning concerns itself with the use and look of a building and its effect on its local environment, the Building Regulations are there to ensure that buildings are made to a suitable level of quality and are safe.

There are many little regulations that need to be adhered to, but the one that most frequently trips up homeowners is to do with fire escape. If you have an open-plan ground floor (as in this picture), that is generally fine when a house is only on ground and first floor. However, when adding second-floor accommodation (as with a loft conversion typically) there needs to be a ‘protected route’ for fire escape, which generally means a separated hallway. This can trip people up terribly and of all the regulations to flag, this is the most important.

Focus on the staircase

Invariably, the key to successful loft-conversion design is to really think through the optimum position and shape of your new staircase.

By definition, the stairs affect both the new floor and the floor below. Often the most efficient location is directly above the stairs below, but this is not necessarily the best position and often cannot be made to work.

First, think through where the stairs will arrive on the upper floor (they will need good headroom to comply with regulations, but you don’t want them to take the best space). Then figure out the most convenient position on the floor below for the foot of the new staircase. The art then is to join these two points up while staying within the regulations. Doing this elegantly and to allow good flow of light is where the real skill lies.

How Much will my Loft conversion Cost?

A basic ‘room in roof’ loft conversion is the cheapest and could start at around £15,000. This will usually involve:

  • the reinforcement of the floor
  • a couple of skylights
  • added insulation
  • a staircase to the loft
  • electrics, lighting and heating
  • fire safety measures to comply with Building Regulations such as fire doors and smoke alarms.

Dormer Loft Extension

The second option which does not require dramatic changes to the roof is to do the above and add dormer windows. This will increase the useable floorspace and can be used to add head height which gives you more options when it comes to placement of the stairs. This will cost upwards of £20,000. However the average dormer loft conversion with a double bedroom and en suite costs about £35,000–£55,000.

So, yes, a loft conversion or extension can transform your house by creating a beautiful bedroom or home-working space, while increasing the value of your home, too. If you need any advice email or Call us at Architects Atelier Ltd and request a free 10 minute Ask the Expert Call. We will go over your project and discuss planning routes and options and can arrange a suitable home meeting appointment.

Party wall notices and agreements

Architects Atelier gets asked allot about Party Wall Notices and Agreements. Here’s a basic summary of what you need to know about Party Walls – what they are, what the paperwork is all about, and when it’s needed.

Should I bother ?

Yes! The party wall process places a statutory obligation on a person doing building work to notify their neighbour if it affects a party wall. If so, they must enter into a party wall agreement. It is as important as planning consent or building regulation approval. If you don’t do it, your neighbour could get an injunction stopping you.

What is a party wall?

In simple terms, a ‘party wall’, is a wall which divides two properties; a party structure could be a ceiling/floor which divides properties such as flats; and a party fence wall is a boundary wall astride the line of junction. If you want to carry out building work which affects any of these, then you may need to give your neighbour a Party Wall Notice.

However, notice is sometimes needed where there is no direct contact and where structures are completely in your land. If you are carrying out any excavations, for example, forming foundations, reducing ground levels, or constructing a basement, you need to check if your neighbour’s property is within three metres of your work. If it is, you probably need to serve a notice.

Take a look at this flowchart to work out if you should have/need to serve a notice.


What type of work requires a Party Wall Agreement?

Any work that can impact the above. Loft conversions and extensions, basements, rebuilding or repairing a boundary wall; excavation within three metres of your neighbour’s property, which could include new drainage (even if you are not attached to them); building on, or up to the boundary between neighbours.

How do I issue a Party Wall Notice?

You can issue your own notices and the Party Wall Act is specific about the information they must contain. Get it wrong, and the notices will not be valid. Although you can send a letter, standard forms are usually used. These are available on our website. Make sure you get the information on the notice correct. You may also need to serve different notices for different sections of the Party Wall Act.

Remember to serve a notice to all neighbours with an interest of longer than 12 months. If you have a block of flats next door, this may mean each flat and the freeholder. Check you are giving the required (in most cases) two months’ notice before you start work.

For more help, you could engage an experienced RIBA Architects like us.  Remember if the notices are wrong, or do not contain the right information they will not be valid. If you have to start again, the two month notice period also starts again. If your neighbour dissents from your notice you will have to appoint a party wall surveyor. The Act says you cannot act as your own party wall surveyor. If you do not appoint a surveyor then your neighbour can do this for you.

What do party wall surveyors do?

The surveyor will look over your plans, check the notices are OK and may ask for more details or clarifications to make sure that the work is unlikely to cause damage to your neighbour’s buildings. The surveyor will visit your neighbour’s property and agree a record of its condition before your work starts. They will come to agreement and serve what is known as a Party Wall Award. This will set out the works that are authorised and what happens if something were to go wrong. It is a binding, legally enforceable agreement.

The Award may also include direction as to how the work is undertaken, access to your neighbour, the need for financial security, what will happen if damage is caused and will deal with any costs, including surveyors fees. In most cases you will be responsible for your neighbour’s costs.

If the surveyors cannot agree, then they will refer the matter to a ‘Third Surveyor’ for arbitration. The third surveyor will prepare and serve a binding award.

I have received a party wall notice, what do I do?

Don’t ignore it! The party wall notices will tell you that your neighbour is planning to carry out some building works that may affect your property or boundary walls.

Within 14 days, you must reply in writing to confirm whether you agree to the work stated in the notice, or dissent from the notice. If you don’t, you will automatically have dissented and within a further 10 days you must appoint a surveyor. If you do not, then your neighbour will appoint one for you. You may be able to agree with your neighbour to use just one surveyor to act for you both.

Can I stop the works or appeal a party wall award?

The Party Wall Act grants statutory rights to work on a party wall or near to your property, so providing these are adhered to, you cannot use the Party Wall Act to stop any works. Instead you will need to object on planning permission grounds. You can appeal the Party Wall Award in the County Court within 14 days of it being served.

Can I get compensation?

Not usually, but if your neighbour uses a part of a party wall that was built by you, he may have to compensate you for the cost of building it.

What happens if damage is caused to my property?

The Party Wall Award will detail how any damage is to be made good. The surveyors will agree the work and liability and your neighbour can do the repair works. Alternatively, you can ask for a payment in lieu so that you can carry out the repair works.

Any more questions?

Do you have questions about party walls that haven’t been answered here? Comment and let us know.

You can also get in touch via the contact form on this website or call us on 01322 837 810.




Start 2018 with Planning that all important extension

Been thinking about that extension and been it putting off? Then this article is for you, Below, Barry Stott-Brookes from Architects Atelier Ltd, outlines the typical planning to completion process for a domestic extension project.

Now is the right time to start thinking about more space at home for Autumn 2018. Whether it’s increased living space that you need, improved amenities or an outbuilding for the kids – why not let AAL’s experienced design team help you through the process required, to achieve the space you need in time for Autumn.

Whatever you’re planning the AAL team can guide you through the processes required to realise your construction project.

At AAL, our award nominated design team have extensive experience in:

  • Creating beautiful spaces;
  • Optimising the design to balance your needs against your budget;
  • Guiding projects through the planning process;
  • Developing the design in coordination with our structural engineering team;
  • Advising on ‘best practise’ for neighbourly matters such as party wall agreements.

Of course, you’ll need a builder once the design is signed off – not to worry, working with us gives you access to AAL’s ‘little black book’ of the very best local trade contacts.

If you’re planning to have the space you need this year ready for use in Autumn 2018 the following timeline of a typical construction project demonstrates why NOW IS THE TIME to talk to us:

Now – Start the design work.

March  2018 – Submit to local authority for planning sign-off.

May 2018 – Receive Planning Consent.

June 2018 – Structural engineering design and builder appointment; start party wall processes.

August 2018 – Party Wall processes completed and start building works! Depending on the size of the project it might be a 12 to 20 week build programme, your builder can advise.

November 2018 – Works complete just in time for the school Christmas Holidays 2018!

Don’t move, improve!  Let team AAL help you with your project, contact us today for a no obligation discussion.

Please visit our resources page for a free project planning pack to assist you in your project :


or come and visit us at the Built it Live show in February 2018 at  Kent Event Centre, see Link for details:

Build It Live South East

Contact us on: 01322 837 810

Email: info@thearchitectsatelier.com

Implementing Eco-Friendly Systems

Homebuyers and businesses looking for commercial premises are increasingly interested in curbing the impact the building has on the environment.

Implementing eco-friendly systems, therefore, can potentially improve the commercial return of your development, in addition to increasing the positive impact on the environment.

However, what’s involved in implementing eco-friendly systems?

Using energy from renewable sources, and implementing products, techniques, or technologies that reduce the amount of energy needed to heat the property, can all reduce a building’s negative impact on the environment.

In some situations, it’s possible to reduce the need for a heating or cooling system to almost zero.

The Passivhaus Standard

One way to make the building as eco-friendly as possible is to design and build it according to the Passivhaus standard. This involves building the property in a way that maximises its airtightness. There’s also, usually, mechanical ventilation included in the design.

Of course, this is not an entirely energy-neutral solution. Energy is required to produce the materials needed to build the airtight structure. It is a solution, however, that’s far more eco-friendly than a structure built according to minimum environmental standards and a great selling point.

Renewable Energy

Installing a heating system using a renewable energy source is another way of making the property more eco-friendly. Burning fossil fuels like coal or gas to generate energy is very damaging to the environment. The process releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which contributes to the greenhouse effect and global warming. Renewable energy sources such as those listed below, don’t exacerbate global warming. Also, unlike coal and gas which are finite resources and will eventually run out, renewable energy sources will always be available.

Options include the following:

  • Solar energy
  • Heat pumps
  • Wind turbines
  • Biomass
  • Hydro power

For example, fitting solar panels to roofs and heat pumps that heat radiators and water, will greatly reduce the energy required to heat and power a home or other premises. Similarly, fitting a wind turbine to power a commercial building greatly reduces energy bills and environmental impact.

Other Ways to Improve the Energy Efficiency of a Property

There are a number of other ways to make a property more energy efficient. This includes options for existing properties that can be applied during renovation or refurbishment work.

  • Insulation

Fitting insulation in lofts and wall cavities is a must for all modern buildings. Insulation should be added to older buildings to improve their energy efficiency. This is a more expensive energy reducing strategy, but is highly effective and of huge benefit to the environment.

  • Using Recycled Materials

Manufacturing building materials from scratch uses huge amounts of energy. One of the ways you can reduce this impact on your next development, redevelopment, or refurbishment project is to use recycled materials.

Recycled materials are often cheaper to buy and the impact of their production on the environment is far reduced, because it takes less energy to refabricate them from already existing materials.

Reusing materials in this way means that fewer materials need to be manufactured from scratch. A double positive for the environment and a plus for your pocket too!

  • Leaving Outside areas as Natural as Possible

Creating driveways and paved areas are not particularly environmentally friendly practises. The processes and materials involved in creating hard surfaces for walking or driving, use massive amounts of energy, plus their manufacture disturbs the natural habitat of insects, birds, and other animals.

Meadow gardens and areas with lots of plants, including wild flowers, are much better for the environment and the ecosystems it supports.

However, if you prefer to install a driveway, or paved areas in your development, but you’re concerned about the environmental impact, or you’d like to create a build that lessens the environmental impact, then you could go down the recycled materials route outlined above.

  • Installing LED lighting

LED lighting has a lower impact on the environment. It uses less energy and lasts longer than conventional lighting.

  • Double glazing

Installing double glazed windows, or secondary double glazing, is energy efficient as it prevents warm air escaping and cooler air getting in. This is good for the environment and reduces heating bills.

Taking as many of these steps as possible or focusing entirely on implementing eco-friendly systems will help you achieve your commercial and environmental goals.

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.
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Why Hire an Architect for Your Home Extension Project?

There are many benefits to hiring the expertise of an architect when planning your home extension, loft conversion or other large remodelling project.

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