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The complexity, location and scale of the project may entail the input of other agencies at this stage including the local Conservation Officer, Party Wall Surveyor, Environment Agency, Arboroculturalist, Highways, ecologists, landlord consent, statutory services etc.
If the scheme is quite complex, for example forming larger than conventional structural openings or requiring complicated foundation solutions on a steep site, the appointment of a Structural Engineer would be very useful at this stage.  It is helpful to get the design input prior to submitting a planning application to reduce the risk of abortive works on our part and the need to resubmit an altered design for planning approval.

Once you (and the various agencies) are happy with the proposals and any engineering proposals are incorporated, the architect will produce and submit a planning application which contains the existing and proposed drawings alongside a design statement expressing design intent to the committee who will consider the application, if not a full design and access statement for larger projects.  Decisions for planning applications usually take eight weeks.  This can be shorter if the project is simple and the planning officer is available.  Conversely, the decision process is known to take longer where the project is complex requiring input from many different agencies.
Alternatively, the drawings could be used to obtain an initial price from a contractor to assess cost feasibility prior to submitting the application.  With larger projects this would also, conventionally, be the time to submit a set of drawings to a Quantity Surveyor for an initial cost estimate.  Since the drawn information is not yet detailed it can be difficult to produce an accurate estimate.  The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recognise that estimates at this point are only 70% accurate.  Equally, there is plenty of recourse for a contractor to change a quote once they are in receipt of additional information. 

It is useful to understand that the more developed your project is when you obtain cost estimates and quotes, the more control you will have over your project.

The RICS advises that estimates are much more reliable, somewhere nearer to 90%, once tender information is available, however the factors highlighted below can still bring sharp changes in the tender prices received.  The cost of your project will depend on the location, the availability/keenness of the chosen contractors and the complexity of the build.  These are all influenced by external factors such as the buoyancy of the economy, how much other construction is occupying the contractors, and factors such as the ease of delivering and storing materials on your site. In rural England the latter may not be such an issue but in buoyant times the availability of keen, skilled labour may be limited. < To go back click here


Initial visit

Brief and building appraisal

Sketch Design


Costs; pre-planning application

Detail design



Costs; post-planning application