Typical Project Timeline:


Preliminary meeting to listen to and understand client’s requirements, limitations, discuss ideas, costs, process, timescale…


Client instructs Stage 1 (hopefully with us and a clear brief!)

Architect measures site/building in detail, analyses context, researches policies (in larger/complex cases it may be worth employing a Planning consultant).  Digital photos taken

Architect draws accurate scale plans and elevations ‘as existing’ (part payment may be sought on larger projects)

Architect produces preliminary proposal(s) for discussion

Architect and client meet to discuss proposals.  Client liaises with neighbours (recommended)  

Proposals revised until to client’s satisfaction

Architect prepares planning application with design statement (also Listed Building application if relevant). 

Stage 1 invoice sent by Architect  

Client pays Stage 1 invoice and prays for Planning Permission 

Planning application submitted. 

Council check application.  Application registered

Council send application receipt – Architect forwards to client

Council processes application (typically 8 weeks) – Case Planner needs to consult with Highways, Landscaping, Access officer, Parish Council, neighbours, visit site, consider potential objections.  May be worth checking state of application after about 4 weeks

In about 90% of cases the Planner determines the application using delegated powers 

Over 85% of applications are approved, sometimes after some negotiation, which may involve a free (of Statutory charge) re-application, so Council targets are met

If contrary views are received the application may go before the Planning Committee with a recommendation from the Planner (typically an extra 4 weeks).  The elected Councillors have the power to over-rule the Planner if they see fit but normally reinforce the Planner’s recommendation, often however, this is after deferring the application to the next Committee meeting pending a site visit (typically an extra 4 weeks)

If Planning Permission is refused there may be scope to alter the design and resubmit, or appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment (within 6 months of decision).  However, although appeals are free of Statutory charge, they tend to take about 6 months to process even if of the relatively simple written type, and only about 25% are successful

Planning Permission is normally granted with conditions, some of which can be quite onerous


Client instructs Stage 2 (Architect checks Stage 1 invoice paid promptly!)

Architect adds construction detail and notes to ensure compliance with the Building Regulations (Government’s minimum standards for stability, safety, access, insulation, hygiene, weather resistance, drainage etc) and for the builder

We also add dimensions and basic layout of electrics/radiators to assist with tendering

Information e-mailed to independent Structural Engineer(s) for quote to add structural information with calculations (eg. foundation design, steelwork)

It may be prudent to have some exploratory work done on site to determine existing structure and subsoil conditions

Architect can send information, if required, for other specialist input that may be required (eg. heat loss calculation)

Architect prepares Building Regulations application.  Client pays Council ‘plan checking’ charge

Architect submits application in accordance with the Building Regs.

Stage 2 invoice sent by Architect

Council register application

Council send application receipt – Architect forwards to client

Building Control check plans and liaise with fire officer/Council’s checking Engineer

Council may ask for some amendments (and may need a free re-application if they run over their own deadline)

Approval is a formality (typically taking 5-8 weeks) – application can’t be refused if compliant with Government’s minimum standards, however, occasionally some negotiation may be required

Work can commence if urgent, at clients own risk, once application has been deposited and 24 hours notice given (best to liaise with Building Control if not waiting for formal approval)

Some additional detailing and/or specification may be done at this stage (eg. mechanical & electrical, kitchen/bathroom fittings & finishes)

Larger and more complex jobs (over about £250K) may benefit from input from others such as a Quantity Surveyor, to produce a more detailed Bill of Quantities and enable thorough cost control


Client instructs Stage 3 (Architect checks Stage 2 invoice paid promptly!)

Architect prepares and tenders to at least 3 builders for competitive quotes (typically 3 weeks), with a deadline

Builders need to calculate a price for the job based on the information provided (which is why they need clear and detailed information) and hopefully respond with sensible low prices.  Any areas of vagueness will probably be covered by a temporary ‘provisional sum’ (the builder’s best guess) – the actual amount will later be inserted, which could be higher or lower. 

Clients should allow some money for contingencies – typically 10% and often more for small projects.  Check whether or not VAT is applicable

Notice may need to be served on neighbours re. The Party Wall etc Act

Architect and client review tenders and a builder is chosen – the builder will normally require a lead-in time, which can be many months

Architect, client and builder have a contract signing meeting to formalise costs, payments, dates, terms & conditions, insurance, health & safety

(Architect will act as a ‘policeman’ of the contract, which is between the client and the builder)

Builder should supply programme of works, Risk Assessment and Method statement.

The builder starts work (and should liaise with Building Control and Health & Safety executive)

Normally after first Building Control site visit Council will invoice for their ‘site inspections’ to check that the Building Regs. are being complied with

Architect (and Engineer if re. Structure) makes periodic site visits to check compliance, certify interim payments, note variations and cost implications

Digital photos taken

Architect may need to check information produced by specialists

The client will need to make prompt stage payments to the builder

Builders start with demolition if applicable, then groundworks (foundations & drains), ground floorslab, walls, first floor, roof, glazing, then breakthrough if applicable, followed by first and second fix carpentry, plumbing and wiring prior to fittings and finishes

Builders tend to work by trades and may well have other jobs running simultaneously, so if, for example, the plumber is busy or away at the required moment, everything can grind to a halt

Other delays can be caused by things like the unexpected being uncovered beneath the ground, late changes of mind, the weather, failure to order something soon enough, underestimating…

Once the building is finished (not ‘nearly finished’) then a certificate of Practical Completion will be issued and half any retention money released

Building Control should also issue a Final Approval

‘As Built’ drawings may be required

Architect invoices for Stage

Architect produces a ‘snagging list’ of defects which emerge normally over a 6 month ‘Defects Liability Period’

Once all defects made good and client has paid all bills, a Final Certificate will be issued, releasing any retention balance

Even when the builders have left there will be things to do, such as carpeting and furnishing, and things will look rather sparse for a while.

If you’ve got any (constructive!) comments please tell us

If you’ve liked our service, please tell everybody else

designing better buildings

Home | About us | Residential | Commercial | Conservation | Educational
Church | Healthcare | Leisure | Urban Design |
Contact us | Site Map|  Links


Abracad Architects, The Atrium, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 9BX Tel. 01344481047