Working with individual and private clients

Working with an architect

Follow the link for initial advice on working with us, and how we could bring value to your project.

Choosing an Architect

Take a look at out publication, Living, which is intended to detail our approach to projects, and assist clients at the earliest stage of commissioning a building.

We embarked on this project having never undertaken anything as big or risky before. It is not every day that you just knock over a house that you have lived in for the past few years! And although the process was at times scary and daunting, we put our trust in Chris and Lucy who worked tirelessly through the project, accommodating and resolving all the challenges which we gave them. The resulting house is everything that we hoped for and more… is a wonderful house to live in, with flexible and practical living spaces – great for family life and entertaining. The design makes superb use of the site and views, and it is filled with daylight. It is always warm (with minimal running costs) and every day we pinch ourselves and remind ourselves how lucky we are.
The house has attracted many compliments from visitors and passers-by, and is a testament to the skill and tenacity of the architects, who looked after both the project, and us, brilliantly from start to finish.

Private Client, Chilliswood

Why work with us ?

Many of our clients have never previously commissioned an architect or had a building designed for them. Building work is expensive, complex and time consuming. Our aim is to make this process as painless and worthwhile as possible, assisting our clients in creating beautiful and comfortable homes for the future.
Appointing the right architect for your project is vital. You need to trust them to: give you good advice, spend your money wisely, produce designs that inspire you, navigate through the process of approvals and regulations, inspect the work of the builder and deal with things if they do not go to plan. You need to meet your architect before appointing them to satisfy yourself that they are right for you.
We are pleased to meet new clients at our studio without obligation. Here you can get a better idea of who we are and how we would work with you. We are also very happy to visit you at home or on site to give you initial advice and ideas for which we make a small charge for our time. Should you wish to appoint us, this would be discounted from our fee.

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We are an RIBA Chartered Practice, this is the gold standard for architects awarded by our professional body. It has a code of conduct which regulates how we deliver our service in the interest of clients. We do not sell anything other than our service, our income is not derived from selling you the products or services of others, we do not take commissions from those we specify and will act at all times with integrity and independence, free of financial or other inducements in respect to building contractors, public bodies and in all other respects.

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We are able to provide architectural services from project inception through to completion of a building and beyond. Typically we are appointed at the start of the process, but our clients are not obliged to use us for all stages – however most do! This service is divided into project stages which follow the RIBA Plan of Work and is summarised below with a description of what we can do for you during each stage.

The timescale for the project can vary considerably depending upon the scale and complexity. We work hard to meet client objectives, however timescales associated with planning approval and construction can be surprising. It is always advisable to start project planning and appoint your architect as early as possible and anticipate an extended period when possible.


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Case Study: Springfield Farm

Location: Bath

Client: Private

Status: Completed 2014

Key Materials: Frake Thermowood Cladding, Green Roof, Lias Limestone Paving, Air source heat pump, MVHR system, Solar Panels

Every time we come home we say to each other – “this is a nice award winning house!” It is special, and it is great that it has been recognised for being so. Do thank your Designscape team for their part in this achievement.

The Client

Our process

You may have started this before you first contact us, but we will help you with this task. It is important to identify the main objectives and aspirations of the project as well as the parameters. Obtain site information and identify others who may be required to complete the project.

– Brief – spaces to be created, problems to be solved, qualities desired, sustainability aspirations, budget constraints, target timeline.

– Site information – measured survey, conditions survey, Legal constraints; boundaries, covenants, easements, foul and surface water drainage, water, electricity and gas supplies, local planning policies. Health and Safety issues.

– Other consultants – Tree survey, ecologist, structural engineer, cost consultant, building services engineer, planning consultant, sustainability and other specialists.

Output – Initial Project Brief.

Our task is to translate the brief into an agreed concept design, taking into account all of the parameters. This is an iterative process. We prepare alternative sketch options to explore potential design solutions. These are discussed with you, developed and revised until a preferred design is arrived at.

Output – Concept Design report. Agreed concept design

  • Planning Policy Summary
  • Constraints and opportunities diagram based upon site and context.
  • Outline Site analysis with photos
  • Sketch plans and drawings to scale showing the general arrangement of the proposals
  • 3D computer visualisations showing the scale form and spatial qualities of the design
  • External materials proposals.
  • Area schedule for budget cost comparison.
  • Summary of required specialist inputs by others. Including cost advice.

This stage takes the concept design and transforms it to ‘hard line’ proposals for planning approval. The complexity of this stage varies between projects. Local planning policies, council requirements and performance can vary between sites as will the strategy for obtaining planning consent, which may include a pre-application enquiry or series of applications. Most planning applications require the submission of additional specialist reports such as ecology and trees. We usually act as planning agents and will make the application and manage it on your behalf. Sometimes we may recommend the services of a Planning Consultant if there are complex policy issues to resolve.

Output – Planning Application, leading to decision.

  • General arrangement CAD Plans, sections and elevations of building proposals and site plan
  • Design and Access Statement
  • Coordination of required supplementary reports prepared by others.
  • Post application negotiations.
  • Dealing with Planning Conditions and other post approval actions.

This stage is concerned with the preparation of technical information from which the building works will be priced and constructed. This information will describe in details what the building is constructed from, how it goes together and define the quality of the work required. There will be a large number of client decisions to be made, primarily concerning interior finishes and fittings. It is usual for the tender and appointment of the builder to take place during this stage. The technical design will include the coordination of input by others; structural engineer, building services engineer, cost consultant etc. We will compile the building contract and obtain quotations from builders for the work.

Output – Technical Design and contract information

  • Technical design drawings describing the construction and setting out of the building works
  • Detail drawings of construction interfaces and components.
  • Compilation and coordination of construction information provided by others.
  • Specification of the works
  • Building Regulation report
  • Pre-construction Health and Safety information
  • Building Contract
  • Shortlisting contractors, preparation and issue of tender information,
  • Analysis of tender returns, leading to recommendation for appointment.
  • Review and agree project programme.

This includes the period from the appointment of the contractor, through mobilisation to the start of work on site. During this stage our role is primarily to administer the building contract; inspect the works, certify interim payments, provide technical assistance to contractor and client  and act the interface between builder and owner.


  • Review scope of warranties
  • Agree contract terms between builder and client employer
  • Coordinate pre-commencement approvals
  • Review building contractors proposals and methodology.
  • Regular site inspections and review of progress
  • Interim valuations and certification.
  • Coordinate variations
  • Additional design information as required
  • Review handover strategy
  • Review ‘As Constructed’ information strategy
  • Review health and Safety Information

The completion of the project requires management and is a process rather than a single event. There is usually a 12 month period between ‘Practical Completion’, when the completed project is occupied and the final payment to the builder once any defects which may have come to light are rectified.


  • Inspection of works leading to completion
  • Defects review
  • Assist with handover planning
  • Review ‘As Constructed’ Information
  • Review warranties and approval certification
  • Issue completion certification
  • Review any extension of time claims
  • Review claims for additional costs
  • Issue valuation certification.
  • Coordinate any defect rectification

Project management means different things to different people. The management of the building works is conventionally the responsibility of the general builder/ main contractor. They will organise the various trades to undertake work on site in accordance with the programme as part of their work under a fixed price contract. An alternative approach would be to appoint a ‘Construction Manager’ to undertake this work in place of the main contractor. This can reduce the construction cost by avoiding a main contractors profit, however carries the risk of cost over-runs. As part of our service we manage the project team; client requirements, work of consultants and contractor; project programme and budget with the cost consultant; statutory approvals etc. We can also provide additional Project Management if required, fulfilling some of the tasks usually undertaken by the client.

Lighting is an extremely important part of a good design, but it is also technically challenging and a fast changing technology. One base service includes a schematic proposal with example light fittings, for the electrical contractor to “complete the design”. However a better alternative is to commission a full lighting design to your requirements. For this we work with lighting specialist who will develop a custom design for you which will provide greater certainty of quality, outcome and cost.

We consider the interior to be an integral part of the overall design. Our base design will include the internal layout and a degree of detail for interior materials and finishes, such as flooring and doors. As an additional service we can design and detail fixed interior features; cabinetry and furniture, staircases, bathroom and kitchens, fixed wall panelling and tiling layouts. If you would like more specialist advice on decorative finishes, colours or soft furnishings we have a long running working relationship with a local interior designers who are able to provide further advice if required, including specialist input regarding furniture and soft furnishing procurement.

The design of the house and the garden are interconnected, often the boundary between internal rooms and external spaces is blurred by use of large areas of glazing and sliding or folding doors. Hard landscaping to the perimeter of the building, terraces, patios, driveways, walls and fencing and external lighting often form part of our appointment. Where specialist planting advice is required we can provide this via landscape designers with whom we have a close working relationship. This input can significantly enhance the final setting of the project.

We design in 3D, this might sound obvious but whilst all architects design three dimensional space, not all use 3D design tools – we do. Starting with the concept design we build a 3D computer model and develop this to coordinate all elements of the design, structure and services. We have invested in Virtual Reality technology which enables us to better design space and our clients to have a far greater sense of what the final building will be like. Our standard service includes this facility and we have used it to assist with design decisions, supporting planning applications and in negotiations with neighbours. Some clients have asked us to build a complete virtual home for them, including furnishings, finishes, lighting and even personal possessions and clutter! This we can do as an additional service.