What is working with an architect like?

The stages of your project

An Architect will help guide you through the process and work on your behalf at each stage of your project. They can carry out regular inspections, deal with queries, instruct any additional work required, monitor progress on site, keep track of cost, value works and certify payments due to the builder.

All projects go through similar stages, starting with the initial briefing through to design, construction and handover. The RIBA Plan of Work sets out the stages of a project and is used by the industry as standard. The list below summarises what you might typically expect at each stage:

Stage One – Preparation and Brief
This involves agreeing a brief with the Architect, agreeing the project budget and programme and sourcing site information such as surveys.

Stage Two – Concept Design
This will involve developing a brief and concept design, which may be presented in the form of sketches, computer models and visualisations.

An outline specification and cost plan may be prepared at this stage.

Stage Three – Spatial Coordination & Planning
Once the design is agreed, your Architect will liaise with the planning authority and relevant consultees and prepare any planning documentation that is required for the planning application.

Stage Four – Technical Design – Building Control
For Building Control, more detailed plans, sections and construction details are required by the local council. These drawings provide the council’s Building Control department with sufficient information for them to confirm that the house will be built in accordance with the Building Regulations.

Your Architect will submit the Building Control application and also produce a set of tender drawings and schedules for your project which can be issued to contractors to price. There are different approaches and forms of contract which your Architect will discuss with you.

The design will be reviewed with the preferred contractor in order to check that they understand what is required and also to identify savings and achieve best value.

Stage Five – Manufacturing and Construction – Work on site
Architects generally administer the contract during construction. The architect will attend site as required, in order to monitor the contractor’s progress, answer queries and resolve problems as they arise.

The architect will generally issue Architect’s Certificates to record progress, and the sum to be paid to the main contractor. Once the project is ready for use a ‘Practical Completion’ Certificate and Defects List is issued.

Stage Six – Handover
After Practical Completion to end of defects liability period

The building is handed over and a Final Certificate issued by the architect.

A more detailed description of each stage can be seen on the RIBA Plan of Work Template.