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Stages of Works – Architectural Services

Monday, 11th July 2016 | by: Cameron Weights

As an architectural technician working in close conjunction with our clients it has become increasingly obvious that the stages involved when wanting to proceed with works at a property aren’t quite clear.

I have therefore decided that it is only fitting that the first post from the architectural team address this crucial issue as otherwise it might quickly become a timely and complex process. The root of this issue lies with the availability of (or lack of!) information relating to the stages involved in residential works.

When a client is looking to commence building works at their property, such as an extension or loft conversion, it is best to look upon the project as a series of progressive stages; the nature of architecture being an evolutionary process that builds on the previous stages work. The RIBA does so through their Plan of Work (POW) most recently revised in 2013.

Initial Idea Inception

The very first stage is the idea itself i.e. what works would like to be completed, where and why? This will usually be at the directive of the client. This stage links closely with POW Stage 0. At this stage we suggest contacting our architectural department and discussing the initial idea to ensure that the proposed works will be possible.


Before the project can move forward an accurate and consistent set of drawings must be produced. The better the set of ‘existing’ drawing the easier the rest of the project can move forward as it will provide a solid set of foundations (excuse the pun). During this stage it is imperative that there’s a clear understanding of the project brief so that all the relevant information can be gathered. This stage is a direct copy of POW stage 1.


In an ideal situation the design stage should be straightforward as the aforementioned project brief should not change too much. Our designers will also act in an advisory role to ensure that any proposal is likely to pass through the following stages using local planning and conservation area guidance where appropriate. Closely linked with POW stage 2, it may be necessary for multiple design ideas to be explored to ensure that the client receives the best possible design outcome.


Provided that the proposal doesn’t qualify for Permitted Development rights (more on that at a later date) it will be necessary to apply for planning approval. As previously mentioned, our designers will work to ensure that the proposal stands a good chance of gaining approval prior to application. It is worth noting that it can never be guaranteed that an application will be approved, however using the available information we can ensure that it stands the best chance possible. Planning applications will take up to 8 weeks to be decided from the moment the application is validated, making this stage the most lengthy.

Building Control

Lastly but arguably most importantly is Building Control, incorporating aspects of POW stages 3 & 4 it addresses how the proposal complies with current Building Regulations. At this point a structural engineer may need to be approached and a decision made between applying for Building Control approval through the local authority or an independent approved inspector (to be discussed in a future post). This stage will require on-site inspections at various building stages as well as a further set of drawings that will be adapted following comments from the approval body.

Once the initial Building Control approval has been granted and provided there is an approved planning application and any party wall issues dealt with, the client is at liberty to commence the works.

The above can become quite confusing to a client with little to no experience in building works, yet it is evident that when approached in the correct way a complex system can be broken down into relatively simple stages.

Should you be looking to explore the idea of having work done to your property and wish to discuss the matter further please do not hesitate to contact a member of the architecture team by email or call 020 7183 2578 (option 4). We would be delighted to discuss and take on an instruction at any of the above stages.