If you’re thinking about a project for your home or business, it’s important to understand what will happen at each stage of the work. How much involvement will you have, what do you need to do, how can an architect help? In this article, we take you through the key stages of a typical project and explain the roles of the different stakeholders.

From vision to design brief

You’ve got a great idea for your home or office. To turn that into a working project, you need to create a design brief. This lets all the people who will be involved what you have in mind. At the preliminary stage, it only needs to be a short simple document. What is your vision and your wish list? What type of space do you want? How will you use it? How much space is available? Are there any restrictions? Do you have an approximate budget in mind?

Putting that information on paper is a good discipline. It focuses your mind. But, to create a detailed project brief, it’s important to work with a professional such as an architect. They can take your ideas and identify other practical requirements that you may not have considered. They take all the information and prepare a formal structured design brief using terminology that other professionals understand.

Selecting an architect

The design brief will help you select the professionals you need to work on the design phase of your project. You may need an architect, interior designer, structural engineer and building services engineers to carry out the detailed designs, calculations and specifications required before construction can begin. Landscape architects and other specialists may be required on larger or more complex projects. Draw up a shortlist of possible architect firms. You can look for suitable architects on the site of the Indian Institute of Architects and then review details of firm’s services on individual websites. Our blog ‘How to select an architect’ explains the process in more detail.

Initial concept design

The detailed design process begins with a concept design. Sketches, an outline specification and a forecast of costs give you an indication of how your original idea will work in practice. When you have reviewed the proposals, give the architect details of any changes you want. It’s important to highlight any major changes at this stage, as changes after this stage are difficult. When you are satisfied with the concept design, you can give the architect approval to move to the next stage.

Obtaining permissions

Your project may require different types of permission from local authorities or other regulatory bodies. As this can be a lengthy process, architects normally recommend requesting permissions once initial concept designs have been approved. You can either submit your proposals directly to the authorities or ask the architect to act on your behalf.

Detailed design development

The architect’s team now prepares detailed designs and specifications. They consult specialists such as structural engineers, lighting designers, services and electrical engineers for professional advice and input on any relevant issues. The detailed designs indicate all essential elevations, services and finishes so that contractors and specialists have a clear indication of detailed requirements. Although you may not any input to the technical content, you should review the designs and specifications to ensure the proposals meet your original requirements.

Construction documentation

When detailed designs have been approved, the architect prepares a set of contract or construction documents. These consist of detailed construction drawings, specifications and quantities for materials, quality standards, schedules and contractual arrangements between a contractor and the architect working on your behalf. The architect gives these to a shortlist of suitable contractors, asking them to bid or tender for the contract to build. You will have no involvement at this stage.

Selecting a contractor

Because each contractor prepares their quotation based on the same drawings and specifications, the architect can make an impartial comparison of all bids. The architect will also take into account other factors such as experience, contractor’s resources and reputation before making a final selection. The chosen contractor and architect then agree a contract and start date. The construction industry in India does not adhere to any standard form of contract, although contractors may use models published by the Indian Institute of Architects or other international bodies. The architect will inform you of the decision.

Managing construction

To ensure contractors maintain quality, costs and scheduled progress, the architect appoints a project manager. That person takes responsibility for managing the construction, checking and certifying invoices, quality control, time control and cost management. They provide regular progress reports to you and the architect and will resolve any issues on site on your behalf.

Completion of construction

When construction is complete, you should inspect the work before occupying the building. Ask the contractor to test all systems that have been installed. Check that all tools, equipment, materials and waste have been removed. If you identify any problems, you should inform the architect by providing a ‘snag list’ and asking for the contractor to carry out any necessary remedial work. The architect may provide you with a set of ‘as built’ drawings. These show the final version, including any changes made while construction was in progress. These drawings can be a useful reference if any problems occur at a later stage.

For more information

If you would like any more information on this process or if you would like to discuss your project, please contact us.