L+ Architects

The L+Process

We are a RIBA-registered practice that takes pride in following ‘The RIBA Plan of Works 2020’ guidelines. Our commitment to making the process clear reflects our dedication to making architecture accessible and understandable for everyone. By adhering to this best practice example, we can guarantee total transparency and safeguard the project for all parties involved. Let’s work methodically to ensure that we have everything we need to achieve our goal and not leave the success of our project to chance.

We have a collaborative and flexible approach that enables us to take on even the most unique briefs, regardless of size. Our experience helps us understand complex structural and engineering challenges that can arise when trying to create a clean and functional space. We value all the expertise and insights from our trusted list of contractors and suppliers.

We appreciate the opportunity to have creative freedom but understand the importance of having a shared ethos and design aesthetic for every project to be a success.

Stages 0-1: Strategic Definition - Survey, Existing Drawings, Preparation + Brief

During Stage 0-1, we take time to understand your needs and the project requirements. We collect information about the project site to identify any constraints and intentions for the project. This includes an internal photographic survey and an independent topographical and measured building survey.

Using this information, we can create a 3D site model and survey drawings of the existing site and buildings. We then present you with a variety of ideas and options to explore.

The purpose of Stage 0 is to verify if a construction project is the best way to meet your requirements. We start with a professional measured survey, which may take 2-4 weeks during busy periods.

We then review the project location plan and conduct a photographic survey to formulate a detailed graphic brief. This helps us evaluate the opportunities and constraints of the existing floor plans and outline the feasibility study.

At this stage, we recommend that you appoint an independent cost consultant, so we can measure your project aspirations against your budget and brief.

During this stage, we also consider your project requirements in connection with the specific site or sites and record the outcomes in the project brief. We then form the design team, including external consultants, and review the project parameters and constraints.

We give high consideration to space planning and sustainability opportunities and create a 3D design model of the existing building and proposed changes.

Stage 2: Concept Design - Sketches + Proposals

During Stage 2, we will explore the potential of your residential or commercial project together. Our team at L+ Architects will conceptualize and sketch designs, create computer models, and work with you to bring your vision to life. At this stage, you can expect to see a full set of scaled plans, hand sketches, and 3D models which will help you visualize your project more accurately.

In addition to this, we will discuss future procurement methods which may affect the schedule of work. We will liaise with external consultants regarding structure, ecology, energy, building regulations, planning restrictions, and local interested parties that may need information. This new information will help us refine the brief and develop a building model. If your site is highly complex or a listed building, we may prepare a pre-planning submission to test the local authority’s receptiveness.

Once the concept is finalized, we will work on producing CGI visuals that create a photorealistic image of your design plan in situ. We will liaise with external consultants and surveyors for planning, highways, cost, VAT, BREEAM, Tree Surveyor, M&E, Structural Engineering, and CCTV.

For pre-application purposes, we will produce all relevant plans and elevations at a 1:100 scale. The pre-application package will be submitted for internal review with an appointed planning consultant. The application fee will be charged directly by the council to the client, and L+ARCHITECTS will be available to consult throughout the process.

Stage 3: Spatial Coordination - Developed Design + Planning

Stage 3 is a crucial step in the design process. Its main purpose is to test and validate the Architectural Concept to ensure that the architectural and engineering information that was prepared in Stage 2 is Spatially Coordinated before detailed information is required at Stage 4.

During this stage, we validate the architectural concept by reviewing all relevant plans and elevations at the appropriate scale, typically 1:100 or an alternative scale as needed. We also conduct a review of each unit with an appointed Quantity Surveyor (QS).

Stage 3 is the last stage before we submit a planning application (or apply for permitted development rights). At this stage, the client approves their chosen sketch, and the design matures into a solid concept that is ready for planning submission. We finalize plan arrangements, materiality, and positioning on-site, and we recommend engaging the services of a cost consultant (Quantity Surveyor) to ensure that the budget is realistic and in line with expectations.

We work closely with consultants to produce information for the planning application, considering local policy and any additional reports that may be required. We will provide AutoCAD or BIM plans in PDF format, sections, and elevations, as well as a Design and Access Planning Report. Interior Design Concepts are also produced at this stage, only outlined to check the space. We will produce a detailed 3D computer model and commission photo-realistic renders and physical models if required.

In more complex or unusual applications, we may recommend the services of a planning consultant. Either we or they will act as your agent and submit to the local authority. Once the planners acknowledge the application as “validated,” it can take a further 8-10 weeks to receive planning approval.

Stage 4: Technical Design + Tender

During Stage 4 of a project, we focus on the technical design of the construction process. This includes creating an information manual that outlines the materials and methods used to build the project. We work closely with structural engineers and other consultants to ensure that all details are considered and coordinated, as any errors or omissions may lead to extra costs or even failure of the project.

At L+ Architects, we produce detailed packages and schedules that accurately estimate the cost of the project. The method of procurement is determined by the overall outcome and is discussed with the client during Stage 2-3. Once the technical design is complete, we prepare the tender package and schedules, and review the tendering returns from up to three contractors. This process usually takes around 12-24 weeks.

During Stage 4, we generate the technical information required to construct the project. This information is packaged into an “information release schedule” and includes technical drawings, building specifications, and system performance descriptions. As the lead consultants, we coordinate with external consultants, such as structural engineers and party wall surveyors, and we ensure that all parties work collaboratively. We also include input from the client in this process.

The key documents at the start of Stage 4 are the Responsibility Matrix, the Designer Risk Assessment (DRA) Form, and the Stage 4 Design Programme. These documents heavily influence the procurement strategy. We also sign off on any pre-commencement planning conditions and provide key construction details, material sample boards (if required), general specifications, and a schedule of works (if required).

We can assist you in determining the best way to proceed with the construction phase based on the contractor’s appointment, whether it is through Design + Build or a Pre-Construction Services Agreement (PCSA).

Traditional Tender Process
In the traditional tender process, we will send an Invitation to Tender Letter to three contractors of your choice. The tender process can take between 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the project’s complexity. Once we receive the tenders, we will review the construction costs with you and help you choose a contractor for the building contract.

Design + Build/Negotiated Tender
In a negotiated tender, the chosen contractor, or a contractor in a Pre-Construction Services Agreement (PCSA), is appointed at Stage 4 or earlier to assist in pricing the technical design as it progresses. We will contact them to find the most cost-effective way to design your bespoke architectural details. This approach resolves unforeseen circumstances early in the design process, such as access or material supply.


Stage 5: Construction Contract Administration

Once Stage 5 begins, the contractor will start working on site. We will work alongside both parties to ensure that the design is properly interpreted on site and the design administration is fairly administered. This is where our hard work and dreams on paper start to take shape in built form.

During this phase, we will administer your contract with the builder. We will provide construction specifications required by building control, including technical explanations and adaptations. The contractors are provided as required, and we will perform regular inspections, instruct additional work if required, track site progress and monitor costings. At the end of Stage 5, a practical completion certificate will be issued.

Depending on the procurement method, our role may change. Firstly, we will aid in mobilising the contractor to start on site. Additionally, we will check and coordinate submissions from specialists, suppliers, and sub-contractors. Design and construction require intense management and coordination.

L+ Architects will advise and answer queries from the contractor and work with them to resolve site issues, which is called a Request for Information (ROI). We may spend many hours every day or week dealing with these queries and drawing as a routine part of the construction process.

A Contract Administrator (CA) will manage the building contract and certify any sums of money to be paid to the contractor in conjunction with the Cost Consultant. We will either carry out this CA role, or the Cost Consultant can take this on.

Stage 6-7: Handover + Use

Stages 6-7 are carried out after the design and build are completed. We take care of managing the relevant certifications and creating snagging lists. At this stage, we value our clients’ feedback and aim to provide a forum for discussion to ensure that we have met their needs. We welcome the opportunity to learn from our clients and their experiences throughout the process.

During stages 6-7, there is a defects liability period that leads to the issuance of a completion certificate. Once the project is completed, we hand it over to the client and initiate after-care services. We produce a snagging list and carry out the final inspection, which will be agreed upon with subcontractors and clients. Finally, the building contract is concluded.

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