Each project and client is unique and therefore our service is bespoke and tailored to individual needs. However, the following guide provides an overview of our typical role throughout a project to give an idea of what can be expected when working with James Wells Commercial Architects.
Briefing & Concept Design
In the first meeting, we will talk through the project parameters including our client’s ambitions, timings and budget. The discussion often involves freehand sketches to develop initial ideas and the key issues that the design must resolve. This stage will culminate in a written JWA project summary and fee proposal followed by an appointment for the project design. Once the basic requirements have been agreed, JWA will progress the design and quickly work up a scheme to demonstrate the scope and general arrangements of the proposed layout. At this point the project architect will be introduced who will become the first point of contact for the client.
Planning & Other Consents
JWA can advise if Planning or Listed Building Consent is required. Depending on the nature of the works we may advise the appointment of a planning consultant who will join the team to help guide an application through the process. Where the proposal is complex we will often recommend a ‘pre-application submission’ to the local authority to obtain initial feedback as to what will be deemed acceptable. This helps to save time and to provide the best chance of a positive outcome for the planning application. JWA can also provide outline advice on Party Wall matters and explain the necessary process involved in obtaining consent from neighbours ahead of commencing works.
Usually for projects up to £1 - 2M contract value, JWA will propose to provide project management services to advise the client on timings, risk issues of which to be aware, requirement for specialist consultants or options of how to procure the work. We are also very happy to work alongside independently appointed project managers, particularly on large scale projects an independent PM can be beneficial to deal with the logistics of multiple appointments.
Detail Design & Documentation
JWA will commence the production of a fully compliant design which will be submitted for Building Regulations approval. This will often be in conjunction with the appointed Structural Engineer who will be required to submit designs and calculations for any structural changes, JWA will co-ordinate the input of all relevant consultants. At this stage, a robust cost plan can be prepared by a cost consultant or Quantity Surveyor in order to provide clarity on budgets. JWA will then commence the necessary production information to bring ideas to reality. There will be numerous client meetings throughout this process as decisions are made ranging from overall aesthetics and space planning down to the fine detail of colours and materials. The final product is a comprehensive set of drawings, schedules and specifications from which the project can be priced and built.
Typically JWA will draw up a tender list of suitably qualified main building contractors and invite expressions of interest in the works. We have good long term relations with an array of high quality companies in London and surrounding areas so finding high quality reliable teams to tender for a project is rarely a problem. JWA will pre-vet each of the companies on the short list and will take references if the client proposes a new firm that JWA has not worked with before. On return of prices, JWA will check, negotiate if necessary and finalise the contract cost following consultation with the client.
Work on Site
JWA will work closely with the chosen building contractor over agreeing start procedures and key programme dates. Site inspections will often start on a fortnightly basis during the initial stages increasing to weekly or more frequently as the construction gathers pace. Usually JWA will organise and chair monthly formal minuted site meetings which the client is encouraged to attend. More often than not, JWA will administer the contract between the client and the building contractor. The progress of works is monitored and logged continuously through written instructions, certificates and valuations. JWA will remain in continued contact with the client throughout the whole process from the initial briefing meeting, through the build project and right up to handover at the end of the build.
JWA is a dedicated team of architects working with James Wells. Based in West Sussex we design for new build homes, extensions, barn conversions and orchestrate plans for historically important listed buildings to work in the 21st Century. Our sister practice James Wells Commercial handles design for commercial projects including hotels, bars, restaurants and offices.