Attend a FREE CONSULTATION meeting with a potential client to discuss the feasibility of the proposed project and give guidance on the anticipated costs and timescales. A full or a partial professional architectural service can be provided.
Stage 1 - Site Survey
Carry out a dimensional and photographic survey of the property.
Stage 2 - Design Proposals
Draft proposed plans and elevations and 3D images for Client consideration.
Stage 3 - Planning Application
Submit a planning application and carry out all necessary consultations.
Stage 4 - Building Warrant Application
Detail the drawings and submit a building warrant application. Liaise with the Building Control deptartment through to the approval of the building warrant.
Stage 5 - Contract Tender
Issue client approved drawings to prospecitive Contractors for pricing and enter into detailed negotiations with the preferred Contractor and create a legal contract for signing.
Stage 6 - Site Attendance
Although we are not project managers, we will co-ordinate all aspects of the works with you and your contractors as they build on site.
Stage 7 - Practical Completion
Apply for Certificate of Completion from the local authority and coordinate site inspections by the Building Control officer.
Stage 8 - Site Completion
Instruct Contractor to complete snagging works and advise Client and Contractor when completion of the works is formally achieved.
CASE STUDY FOLLOWING A FAMILY EXTENDING A HOUSE IN COMISTON, EDINBURGH
Should We Stay - Or Should We Go Now?
With a growing young family, Mr & Mrs C of Comiston, Edinburgh are feeling decidedly cramped in their bungalow that they bought five years ago. They are wondering if they should move to a larger house or extend their own house.
We often hear from clients who have looked at the option of moving but have various concerns:
Their children have made many friends in the area and are well settled into school.
They are concerned about not being able to sell their own house.
They have looked at other larger houses but cannot find a house that suits their growing needs for a price that they can afford.
After looking at the options, they have decided they like Comiston and Fairmilehead and want to extend their family home. They have had their house valued by a Property Agent and are pleasantly surprised to see that the value of the property has increased considerably over the last five years. After talking to their mortgage lender, they are able to re-mortgage at a higher level and release enough equity to pay for their proposed alterations. But what next? Should they talk to an Architect, a Builder or another building professional?
If you are considering altering your property, it is important that you seek an architect’s advice early so that the following factors can be discussed:
The price (your budget)
The project brief (your aspirations and expectations)
What the Planning Department will allow
What the Building Control Department will require
Your timescale to start / complete the works
With most Architects, the initial architect consultation is free and you will have a chance to discuss various aspects of your project including feasibility, fees and timescale. An architect has the experience to make the most of the potential of your home and can discuss in detail how you and your family use your home and what you hope to achieve.
Mr and Mrs C talk to friends who had work done and they recommended Archie their local Architect. To be on the safe side, they look up Archie on yell.com and also look at his website, which is surprisingly useful and informative and actually gives them some new ideas. Enthused by this they contact Archie who agrees to meet with them within a few days and at a time which suits them.
Once Archie has had a good look around their property and take some measurements. He suggests that the most cost effective solution to their space problems is to convert the attic. As he points out the attic is already built and you don’t need to dig foundations or build walls. He suggests that with the addition of a dormer window to the front and back it would be possible to create two new bedrooms for the kids, together with a small shower room. Archie also suggests that a big open-plan Dining room / Family Room / Kitchen extension with access to the rear garden would be a great family meeting space and also give the house some much needed Wow!! factor.
Mr and Mrs C find it difficult to visualise the ideas in plans and elevations so Archie produces some 3D images of the proposals, which even the kids can understand!
Although they are very happy with the design by Archie, Mr & Mrs C are keen on the attic conversion but are concerned that the extension might push them over their budget. Archie suggests that they apply for Planning permission for both the attic and the extension works on the basis that they will have the permission for three years and the works could be phased in two stages. Mr & Mrs C are delighted with this suggestion and give the go ahead for the Planning Application.
Planning Permission – Into the Tangled Web.
Mr & Mrs C are now applying for Planning permission for an attic conversion and single storey rear extension, with the help of their architect, Archie.
Unfortunately, they have fallen out with their neighbours about something else and now they are worried that their neighbours will object to their proposals, and that their Planning Permission will be refused. They talk to Archie about their worries. Archie gives them some useful information about Planning Permission:
Archie confirms that there are general guidelines that require to be considered when extending a property:
The rear extension should not be more than a third of the depth of the rear garden, and the height of the extension should be lower than the existing house.
The extension and attic conversion should be designed to meet the requirements of daylighting, privacy and sunlighting guidelines.
A dormer window in the attic should be no greater in width than a third of the average roof length.
Archie tells them not to worry too much about what their neighbour thinks at this stage. Archie suggests that it is wrong to allow the attitude of a neighbour to alter or influence the design of their extension or the proposed environment that they want to live in and inhabit. Archie reassures them that he has designed the extension and attic conversion to be sensitive to the existing house and to the neighbouring properties and also to generally comply with the various Planning guidelines. The neighbours will receive a neighbour notification as part of the Planning application and will have an opportunity to see the drawings and make their objections to the Council in the appropriate way if they wish to be heard.
Mr and Mrs. C decide to make the Planning Application. Archie submits the application forms and drawings and hand delivers neighbour notification notices to the appropriate neighbours.
The Application is registered and the neighbours are allowed 21 days to lodge objections with the council. A letter from the Council confirms who the Planning officer is and the two month timescale for determination of the application.
A month passes before Mr & Mrs C receive a phone call from Archie. He confirms that he has been in discussion with the Planning officer, who has asked for one minor change to the proposals. Mr & Mrs C. confirm that they are happy to make the minor change. The Planning officer also confirms that he has received several objection letters to the proposals from neighbours summarised as follows:
One neighbour is worried about the noise and disruption that will be caused by the building works.
Another complains about the dormer window at the front of the house being able to look into her upper floor window over the road.
Another complains about a large window to the side of the extension, which will look straight into their conservatory.
Another complains that the extension will block her view of the Pentlands and block out the light as well.
The only change that the Planning Officer has asked for is as follows:
Erect a two meter high screening wall to their neighbour’s boundary which will avoid any overlooking.
The Planning officer confirms that the other objections are not valid, as the proposals are designed within the guidelines for privacy and daylighting.
Unfortunately however, due to the large number of objections, the Planning officer confirms that the application will have to be approved by the Planning Committee.
Archie explains that the Planning Committee is made up of local Councillors. The Planning officer has already confirmed to Archie that he has written his Report on the project and recommended Planning Approval. It is up to the Councillors to either ratify this recommendation or put forward grounds for overturning this recommendation (which is rare) To be on the safe side, Archie suggests that it might be worth while contacting their own local councillor:
Mr and Mrs C. phone the councillor, who is very helpful and agrees to support their Planning application and talk at the Planning Committee meeting.
Two weeks later Archie phones with the good news. They have received Planning approval. Hooray!
On Site - The Perils and Pitfalls!
The good news is that Mr and Mrs C have now received Planning Permission and Building Warrant approval, so they can go ahead with the works. The next step is to find a building contractor and start the works on site. Mr and Mrs C are wondering if they should employ Archie for this section of the works – is he really essential, or should they save money in fees and project manage this section of the works themselves?
Archie talks to them about another client he had who decided to go it alone – and it is a salutary tale. Archie explains that his previous client Mr & Mrs. P also of Comiston had chosen to project manage the works for a small extension themselves. Mr & Mrs. P had sent Archie’s Building Warrant approved drawings to six contractors that lived close by after looking in the yellow pages. One of the Builders had phoned them right away and without even meeting them had given them what seemed to be a remarkably low price. Even better he could start straight away!
Initially they got on very well with the builder, he was very friendly and he had said it would only take a couple of weeks, and he had done loads of this type of project before. They shook hands on a price and agreed that he should start the next week. As he was leaving he asked very nicely if it might be possible to get half of the money in cash ‘up front’ to allow him to buy all of his materials for the job. Mr & Mrs. P agreed somewhat reluctantly that this would be fine.
On Monday, the builder turned up on site with some labourers, who didn’t seem to speak any English. The builder pointed them in the direction of the outbuildings which were due to be removed and then had to head off to ‘organise materials’. The labourers very efficiently demolished the garage and shed so by the end of the day all that was left was a large pill of rubble in the driveway. Mr & Mrs. P handed over half of the money to the builder.
Over the next few days, progress on site seemed to go reasonably well, although the client didn’t see the builder on site very often the labourers seemed happy to plod on with the foundations and the floor slab. Then the timber kit and the roof were erected very quickly, although some of the walls looked a bit squint and the roof was at a different level to the flat roof they were joining on to! When Mrs. P asked the builder about this he told her not to worry, as he said that they would get more headroom. He also told them he had done it this way loads of times before and never had any bother. He also asked for the other half of the money to ‘get the rest of the materials’, since he was over half way through the project.
At this stage, alarm bells quite understandably started ringing. The payment schedule was not something they had discussed or agreed in detail. But the builder didn’t seem as friendly as he used to be and he had left some veiled threats about walking off the job because he was running out of money, and that he was ‘doing them a favour’ for doing it so cheap. So again, reluctantly, the rest of the money was passed over. For the following week, the builder was very busy trying to finish the works as quickly as he could – it was all coming together and looked great!
As the construction was almost complete Mrs. P Called Building Control to come and inspect the works to make sure everything was as it should be. Unfortunately, the Building Control officer immediately picked out several major problems with the works on site including drainage of the flat roof, the wrong type of insulation being used in the walls, electrical problems etc.
He also pointed out that the general level of construction was very poor and was concerned that the structural works had not been carried out correctly. Oh no!
This project was turning into a disaster.
Mr & Mrs. P confronted the builder with the problems. His reaction was to fly into a rage and tell them that he had been a builder for 30 years and he had never had any problems before. He then told them where to go and slammed the door in their face on the way out.
After they had picked themselves up off the floor, Mr & Mrs. P had to appoint another builder to come and rectify all of the works, including a totally new flat roof, at a significantly higher cost.
On top of the financial stress that this put upon Mr & Mrs P, the emotional stress of the whole situation had almost torn them apart! The whole process was very stressful and they were lucky to come out of it with their marriage intact never mind their house!
The moral of the story Archie tells Mr and Mrs C is don’t try to save money by not appointing an architect unless you know exactly what you are doing.
In summary Archie confirms the list of invaluable services that he can provide following Planning and Building Warrant approval stage:
Add additional ‘finishing touches’ and client information to the drawings to create ‘Tender Drawings’
Send Tender drawings and information to 4 reliable builders that he has worked with before, for pricing.
Arranging meetings between client and builders to introduce the builders to the clients and to discuss the project in detail with each builder so that they can each finalise their tender sums.
Meeting with the client and their preferred contractor to finalise the contract details and to update the drawings to take account of additional items discussed at this stage.
Preparing ‘Contract’ Drawings and preparing a legally binding written contract for signing by the client and the contractor. The contract would include items such as a payment schedule, dealing with disputes, insurances, inspections etc.
Once works start on site the Archie would have weekly meetings with the client and the contractor to carry out a weekly inspection of the building works, discuss progress, deal with matters arising and advise on payments to the contractor.
At the end of the works, Archie would arrange inspections by Building Control Dept. and issue a detailed snagging list to the contractor. Archie would only instruct payment to the Contractor once he and the client were satisfied that snagging had been completed and the certificate of completion was received from building control.
A percentage of the contract sum would be retained for six months after the works are completed to deal with any snags that arise in the works.
The key to a good building project is Control of the Contractor. The person best placed to control contractors, to get the best out of them and keep them behaving themselves, and critically to make sure that they are not overpaid is obviously their main supplier – The Architect.
The End is in Site.
After talking to Mr & Mrs. P and their problems on site, Mr & Mrs C have decided to appoint Archie to find the right contractor and look after the project through to completion on site. They feel that they need a safe pair of hands to help them through the process and think that the fee he is proposing is good value. In any case they have become quite attached to their architect, and as Archie has ruefully said on a number of occasions, he wants all his clients to become friends, and all his friends to become clients!
So Archie sends out his drawings and specifications to four contractors for pricing. Archie explains that the four contractors are all quite different. One contractor (Andy) employs 12 men and provides ‘All trades’ within the company – Archie explains that this is the ‘old style’ of building contractor. Another contractor (Kev) does not employ anyone ‘in house’ but sub-contracts all of the work to joiners, plumbers, electricians, bricklayers etc and he then acts as the ‘project manager’. The other two contractors (Jason and Benny) are small family based joinery firms who sub-contract some of the work that they do not do themselves.
‘But which one is the best?’, ask a somewhat perplexed Mr & Mrs C. Archie suggests that each company has positives and negatives, and the best way to consider each is to meet with them individually to discuss the project and see how they get on. Then they will have to consider the following factors:
First impressions from meeting
References from previous clients
When can they start the project (availability)
How long would the project take to complete (timescale)
Over the next few weeks Mr & Mrs C arrange meetings with the contractors. The good news is that Mr and Mrs C get on really well with all the contractors who come to visit them. Andy was very down to earth and seemed to be very experienced. Kev was quite different, very professional; he came dressed in a suit and promised them an itemised quote, which true to his word he emailed to them the very next day! Jason was very nice and had spent two hours talking to them and had come up with good ideas to make slight changes to the plans to improve the attic space. They had not heard from Benny.
It turn out that Benny is too busy. And so there were three.
Mr and Mrs C think that Jason is just too small for the project. Although his price is lower than the other two, he would have to do the project in stages and it would take too long and be more disruptive. And so there were two.
Now it is a difficult decision to make – the choice between experience and professionalism, the old style and the new style. Both contractors are the same price and both had glowing references. Ultimately, it comes down to who they think they would feel more comfortable working with – and they decide to go with Kev. The suit wins over the sweatshirt!
With the choice made, Archie wastes no time in organising a meeting to finalise any last minute changes and agree on the terms of the contract. Archie then creates the contract and contract drawings and both parties sign the contract. This is it!
Once works start on site everything runs smoothly and Archie arranges weekly meetings with the client and the contractor to carry out an inspection of the building works, discuss progress, deal with matters arising and advise on payments to the contractor. By having regular set meetings on site any stresses between the parties can be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Mr and Mrs C are delighted with the courtesy and professionalism of the builders in their house and Kev the Contractor.
At the end of the works, Archie arranges inspections by Building Control Dept. who pick up a number of minor points. The clients also have some points on a list. Archie pulls together the points from Building Control and the clients and adds his own points to create a snagging list, which he gives to the contractor.
When Archie and the client are satisfied that all the snagging has been completed and the certificate of completion has been received from building control, Archie confirms that the works have now reached ‘Practical Completion’.
Mr and Mrs C will keep 2.5% of the contract sum for another six months in case any problems occur in the works as a precaution.
But for now, it is time to crack open the bubbly and celebrate the end of the project. It has all turned out brilliantly and not too stressful for Mr and Mrs C, in fact they are sad to see the workmen go.