the process of appointing an architect explained

Commissioning an Architect to take on a building project can be daunting, but it needn’t be

Many clients find the prospect of embarking on a building project daunting, especially when they first see all the components involved from the beginning to completion. A good architect will guide their client through the process, explaining the options at every step.

Understanding the client

At the initial meeting, JOA will aim to understand the key facts of the project.

Timeframe – wish list – lifestyle – longevity- budget – items to be accommodated

Following the initial outline briefing at the house, JOA  will submit a project proposal. This clearly explains the strategy for achieving the objectives, the step by step approach for the project as well as fees and an indicative timing. We follow the RIBA established work stages for this, tailoring this to suit the project and client.

Guiding the client through the process

Many of our clients appreciate a clear explanation of the design stages throughout a project, as well as a clear understanding of the range of services we can offer and the methodology of planning and procurement, as well as the need for other consultants eg structural engineers, services engineers etc

In the early stages of a project there may potentially be a number of variables – scope, planning consents and procurement routes. Our proposal, by its nature, ensures that we capture and explain all of the likely variables to enable the client to make the right decisions for them and enable the project to proceed smoothly.

Getting the brief right – the key to unlocking the project

Once the process had been explained, we were able to get into the fun part. The JOA approach is friendly and collaborative. Our aim is to fully understand the client and ensure we get the right brief.

If this stage isn’t carried out effectively, a successful outcome is less likely.

In addition to in depth consultations with the client, we find images particularly useful, often asking prospective clients to share their mood images and Pinterest boards. This can help to clearly define their aspirations.

Understanding the building

A full site investigation will then be undertaken. We take a designer’s measure of the building. Sometimes this might be outsourced to a separate survey company.

Often if the works are significant it can be helpful to carry out these investigations , often with the structural engineer.

Additionally, we would review party wall matters, planning considerations, heritage, context, sustainability, services, and the structure and current condition of the house. This all helps us to gain a comprehensive understanding of the building.

JOA will then produced a briefing document to summarise all of the findings (including the site investigations) and aspirations.



Concept Design and Feasibility Study

Some clients have a clear understanding of what they want, others value the opportunity to explore options, looking at the impact of the proposal on the immediate  spaces and building as a whole. This can be done as a feasibility to understand how differing layouts may offer benefits.

JOA then bring together their finding so far and then explore ideas and options for review, using a series of visuals tools to support the communication of the ideas. Plans and flat architectural drawings, sections and elevations and reference images , although useful can be quite sterile.  To bring the design further to life, JOA find   simple hand sketches or coloured sketches over computer models to be the best tools. Enabling the client to understand the spaces effectively, we rarely use photo realistic imagery as it is an expensive approach that offers can intimate  and distract from the design process.


Planning, Listed Buildings and  Conservation Areas

Once the project design direction has been agreed with the client , we are then able to move forward to the planning stage, if applicable. having researched the relevant permissions at the the first stage , once we have a design direction we are able, then to advise the client on how best to navigate the approvals, clearly explaining risk as well as impact on programme.



For more complex or higher risk projects we may suggest using a planning consultant to work along side us.


Drawings Construction and Tender


Once planning permission had been given, we were able to prepare architectural drawings for the construction, building control and tender process. This stage is in depth and detailed. we ensure t


advising on the appointment of a party wall surveyor and building contractor.


The Build

JOA have prepared developed design and building regulation drawings for all areas of the build. We are currently working with the family to appoint building contractors and the building work is due to start in Summer 2020. We are also providing interior design services, advising on the selection of furniture, lighting, bespoke joinery, kitchen units, etc. Once the build is underway, JOA will make regular site inspections, carry out administrations and respond to any queries that arise on site, in order to see the project through to fruition.


Note :diagrams above are indicative only and will vary form project to project.