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Inspiration Through Design: Somerset Architectural Practice

- our design process

As experienced designers, we recognise that every project has its own unique requirements and we adapt our service to meet the requirements of every client. This allows us to work directly with you to uncover the full potential of your project; whether creating the space of your dreams or maximising the return on investment.

Here we outline our 7 stage design journey used on all our unique architectural building projects across Somerset and the South West;



S T A G E 1 - Preparation & brief

After discussing your project over the phone we’ll meet with you in person to listen to your ideas. We’ll consider your budget and any design or architectural style aspirations that you may have and walk over the site to explore the project feasibility and get a general idea of layout, size and orientation.

Following this we'll create a brief that acts as a guide or reference point throughout the duration of the project.

Preparation work also includes:​

  • Site appraisals including identifying constraints and opportunities on-site and in the surrounding area

  • Reviewing any existing building surveys or drawings

  • The measured building survey

  • Preliminary cost indications, helping you to get a ballpark idea of the investment required

  • Pre-application planning discussions including potential pitfalls that we could help to overcome

  • Advice on any need for consultants or specialist information

At this stage we’ll also encourage you to focus in on the priorities you have for a project. We rarely work on run-of-the-mill architecture projects; instead seeking to inspire our clients with fresh ideas, particularly when in a heritage context.


S T A G E 2 - Concept design

After we have fixed the brief and your vision for the project, we’ll initiate the concept design phase, sketching out our ideas. This is where we translate our thoughts and inspiration from our meeting into exciting preliminary concepts that will give you an insight into how we could meet your aspirations. We will then build on this to develop detailed concepts using 3D Modelling, BIM and Virtual Reality (VR) Fly Throughs to really bring your project to life. As well as giving you a good idea of how your property will look, this allows us to efficiently plan, design and manage the project.

This involves:​

  • Design meetings to gather your feedback and input

  • Production of 3D model & Fly Through content for review

  • Coordination of any consultant information

  • Considerations around spatial arrangement, the visual impact and aesthetics of the property, and best materials to use

This is where projects get exciting – it’s at this stage you will be able to accurately visualise what the alterations, extension or new build will look like, in context to the surroundings. Once this stage of the process is signed off we move onto developed design.


S T A G E 3 - Developed design

Following concept design, we’ll create detailed designs for the all-important planning approval process. Planning can be an unknown entity and often challenging to navigate, particularly with Listed buildings and Conservation Areas. Our aim is to streamline this stage and make it as easy as possible for you and we work hard to ensure any involvement with the local planning department is as smooth as possible. At this stage, your design concepts transform into clear detailed drawings for the planning department to review.

This stage includes:​

  • Planning application submission, Conservation Area and Listed buildings applications

  • Design and access statements / Heritage statements, explaining how your proposed development is a suitable response to the site

  • Close coordination and consultation with Conservation officers

  • Post-planning discharge of conditions, applications for the removal or variation of a condition, material amendment applications

We can never 100% guarantee that a planning application is successful yet we are confident in our abilities to work closely with the planning authorities to achieve a positive outcome for everyone involved. Communication is an important factor and our experience in the planning process will ensure that any delays around planning consent are minimal.


S T A G E 4 - Technical design

Following planning approvals we move to the technical design stage. Here we develop fully detailed designs and provide the technical information required by Building Control to meet/exceed the current building regulations.

This is a highly detailed stage of our work, ensuring clarity, a high-quality building process and a high-quality result. As a design-led practice ArchiWest are committed to providing clear, in-depth construction detailing to remove ambiguity and ensure quality.

This stage includes:​

  • Production of technical plans, sections and details

  • Coordination of all consultant information such as structural engineer guidance

  • Building regulations applications

  • Building specification/Schedule of Works

This stage is all about developing workable designs for the construction phase and obtaining Building Control approvals.


S T A G E 5 - Tender

This important stage involves the collation of a complete package of information for tender purposes. This includes tender drawings, schedules, consultant information and specification. We will typically suggest 3 or 4 local building firms that we think are well placed to complete the works, and coordinate accordingly.

Once the shortlisted contractors/builders have the tender package and detailed designs with accompanying information, they can price up the work and submit their tender returns.

This stage includes:​

  • Tender package collation

  • Invitations to tender and coordination

  • Tender appraisals and reports

  • Advice on selection of contractors and building contracts

We are more than happy to meet with any preferred building companies to discuss the project and can answer any questions they may have. Our experience will ensure that your chosen building company is reliable, trustworthy and offers value for money, giving you total peace of mind.


S T A G E 6 - Construction

It’s time for the project to start, which can be an exciting and also daunting time. Managing a project on-site can be a complex and time-consuming process, clients often rely on us to manage this process for them, something we do on a regular basis. We liaise with the builders on your behalf and are accustomed to answering any technical questions as they arise, allowing you to watch the project unfold without getting weighed down by the detail. We work with the builders to ensure your project is built on time, within budget and to the highest quality, monitoring progress to keep you updated on the building work.

This part of our process includes:​

  • Preparation of contract documents

  • Construction management and regular site inspections

  • Contract administration including architects instructions and certification of payments

We keep a close eye on any deadlines and work closely with the builders to ensure a successful project.


S T A G E 7 - Handover

The project is nearly complete and there are just a few checks left to complete.

At this point in the process we will:​

  • Make final inspections to ensure your property has been finished to the highest standards - also known as 'snagging'

  • Provide as-built information (defining any defects or deviations to the construction drawings that may have occurred during construction)

  • Provide advice and support on resolution of any defects

  • Agree the final account and issue a final Completion Certificate

We believe you will look back on the project as being pain-free, inspirational and exciting – and you will now be able to make the most of your fantastic space for many years.

If you need further information on any of our processes and would like to discuss a potential project, please contact our team for advice on next steps.



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