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Potential clients often ask us how we can help them with their projects, so we have written an article; “What does an architect do?” in order to highlight all the areas an architect can help a developer or home owner during a construction project. In the article we will cover:

  • What is the role of an architect?
  • How they structure their work?

What is the role of an architect?

An architect can have many roles during a building project that can range from surveying the site to developing the concept, giving advice on planning issues to preparing detailed designs; managing a team or resolving disputes.

Architects plan and structure their services around work stages that set out the key areas of a construction project from beginning to end. These outline the duties and tasks required to complete a project successfully.

D4P are a chartered RIBA practice (The Royal British Institute of Architects) RIBA break the roll of an architect into the following stages:

  • 1 – Preparation and Brief
  • 2 – Concept Design
  • 3 – Developed Design
  • 4 – Technical Design
  • 5 – Construction
  • 6 – Handover and Close Out
  • 7 – In use

Preparing work around stages, helps to breakdown a project in terms of it’s the work involved. A client can engage with an architect at any stage of the construction process, however at D4P, we prefer to start from the projects inception and follow it through to completion, as this is where we can add the most value.

As a project progresses through the work stages, the tasks and duties required of an architect change, and so does an architect’s services and outputs.

We go into this in a little more detail below:

Preparation and Brief

At D4P we will arrange an initial meeting with our prospective clients to understand the key requirements of their project. This will be free of charge, unless considerable travel time is involved.

This meeting will cover:

  • The overall objective of the scheme.
  • Our client’s requirements and desires.
  • An investigation into the site and landscape.
  • The Timescales of the project.
  • Budget.

Concept Design

On instruction from our client, we will carry out a site appraisal and analysis to assess the proposals context, its users and advise on the feasibility of the project.

Normally the scope of a new project will be determined by the available budget, and so this will be frequently discussed and analysed from the outset.

We will then look to organise and advise on how to arrange a site survey of the existing buildings and landscape on the site. This will create an accurate record and form a solid foundation from which to base the proposed drawings.

Preparation and Brief / Design Development

Moving onto the development of the proposal, D4P will prepare and formulate a site feasibility report assessing:

  • Access
  • Site origination
  • Views
  • Context
  • Constraints
  • Visual impact

Influenced by this, our report will usually be accompanied by outline sketch design and concept development.

Our high levels of planning success are mainly due to the amount of Planning Research we put into our projects. By thoroughly investigating the local planning policies, we identify the constraints, together with the council’s aims for the area. Furthermore researching other applications, helps us to formulate a robust design strategy. From this we can develop schematic designs that are more likely to gain planning approval.

Developing the Design

Here the scheme will be developed in line with any changes the client may have had following on from the initial design presentation during the above stage.

These will then be compiled into the relevant drawings and documents suitable for a planning application submission.

We identify the aspects of the design that are most likely to risk rejection, and weigh this up against the potential rewards. Our clients can then make an informed choice in order to achieve the best return on their investment, and get the most out of their space whilst still likely to gain planning approval.

Once approved, we help our clients develop a procurement strategy to keep their construction costs under control.

During this time the architect will consult with the above additions to the project team and provide the relevant information them.

Following this, they will consult with local building regulations inspector and compile the drawings suitable for the building regulation application, illustrating to building control how the Building Regulations work.

Technical Design / Tender Bid, Negotiation and Appointment of Contractor

At D4P we have a breadth of experience of working with a whole host of different types of contractors. We will develop technical designs to enable the contractor to understand the construction process required in order to submit their bids.

We will help the client identify and evaluate the best options from the submitted tender documents in order to help choose the right contractor for the project. This can include looking at any anomalies and checking for missing pieces of information, which could prove costly later.

It is important that we remain impartial during this procedure and therefore seen to be running a fair tender process for each tendering contractor. For this reason we will not advise the client on who is the most suitable give an unbiased opinion, often based on cost, understanding of the brief, and quality of workmanship.

We will then need to meet the chosen contractor with the client. This is important, as the client is likely to be working with this person/company for a large amount of time and investing a lot on money in their work.

Ultimately the client needs to be able to get on with them and trust that they will be a good fit for the project, and when questions and/or changes occur they will remain approachable and eager to help.

Once chosen, we will prepare the contract documents and drawings, which unless amendments have been made during the tender process, will be the same documents the chosen contractor has priced against.

The client will be advised on the type of construction contract that is to be used and the responsibility of each party.

On Site Support

Dependant on the type of construction contract, and the size and scope of the works, our clients may ask for help with the running of the project. This can include:

  • Carrying out site inspections
  • Dealing with general queries
  • Dealing with amendments and the impacts they may have.
  • Instructing additional work
  • Monitor the projects progress
  • Monitoring the quality of the works
  • Monitor the projects costs
  • Carry out site valuations
  • Certify payments when they become due to the builder
  • When the project is ready to be handed over we will inspect and value the works and issue a certificate.

During the construction phase of the project, we try to add value by looking for ways in which we can save money and improve the value during the build. We also help with resolving on-site queries and challenges as well as the issuing of completion certificates.

If you would like to ensure that your next project gets off to the best possible start and a successful end, please don’t hesitate to contact us, we would love to be involved.