How Long Will My Project Take?
More often than not, we are asked, 'how long will my project take?'
Of course the simple answer is, 'How long is a piece of string?' but this isn't much use to anyone trying to grapple with a budget and a completion date goal in mind.
This is why we feel that it is important to discuss here what you can expect in terms of timescale and what factors will affect the end date that everybody whats to be at as quickly as possible.
There are many factors that affect the timescale on any project. Every project, no matter how small, will suffer from its own complexities and will require some guiding principles to enable a reasonable time frame to be set at the beginning of the project, usually agreed between the project Architect and the builder.
I will start by outlining the timescale for a simple single storey, average sized extension, summarised as follows:
Stage 1 - defining the brief, 'The Blue Print' for your project. _ 3 weeks
This is where we meet, usually following an enquiry made by you, the client. We usually have this meeting at your house, or the property you are wishing to extend/re-furbish, so that we can physically see the building/site of the project. Prior to the face to face meeting we will have sent you some information regarding 'the brief', our company, and what you can expect from us.
Stage 2 - Appointment & works up to Planning approval _ 12 weeks
Once we are appointed we will set to carrying-out, or assist you in appointing other professionals, surveyors etc. to, carry-out all necessary building & land surveys, as required, to enable us to have a full understanding of your site and/or building. We will then come up with some outline sketch proposals and, once agreed with you, submit to the local authority planning department the proposals. Sometimes it is appropriate to obtain formal pre-app advice from the planners. This could easily see this stage timescale double. However, if the project is of a non-contentious nature, we would not usually require pre-app advise from the planners.
Stage 3 - Building Regulations _ 6 weeks
When the approval notice is received we would then prepare a set of technical drawings to satisfy the statutory & regulatory requirements. This usually involves consulting with a structural engineer so that a structural strategy can be included as part of the regulation information submitted.
Stage 4 - Tender Documentation & Management _ 10 weeks
This stage of work is a follow-on from the previous work stage and involves overlaying additional information on to the regulation set of drawings, including producing additional detail drawings and a building specification. This stage also sees a package of information being released to a selection of chosen builders to price the work followed by a tender review process and advise given to the client to enable a builder to be appointed to carry-out the building work.
Stage 5 - Mobilisation & Construction _ 16 weeks
Upon agreeing a contract construction price (contract sum) and a fixed timescale, we would administer a building contract and inspect the works to make sure it is being built as per the contract documents. We would also look after your purse strings to make sure that you only pay for what has been agreed and to keep back a retention sum.
Stage 6 - Defects Period & Post Occupancy Evaluation _ 12 months
Following the project reaching practical completion, under the building contract, the project would usually enter into a 12 months defects period. This is when we allow the building to go through the 4 seasons, allowing the materials to expand and contract, as they would usually do, which should reveal any defects that are present in the build, which there usually is in newly built buildings. The builder will visit the building again, during this period, and make good any of the defects that have occurred. We will then settle the account with them, thank them and wave them farewell. Under the building contract, written under hand (not as a deed), we hold an additional 5 years liability for our work. This means that if there are any problems you can come to us and we will assist you getting the help you require to resolve them.
As I said at the beginning of this post, this outline project timescale is for an average sized single storey extension and I have shown here that from initial contact with us, to practical completion stage, could easily be 47 weeks, that is almost 12 months, excluding the defects period! With all the other things that you the client have to contend with at the same time, like life, family, holidays & work, this can often take a bit longer.
For the Architect a small extension can be similar in project timescale as a whole single house. This is because the process is exactly the same, no matter the size of the project. However, in terms of time there will be a little more work to do, sometimes before a planning application is made, to negotiate with the local authority to show the new house within its site setting, or, additional information maybe required at the regulations & tender documentation stage to produce more specific information about new connections to services or the chosen finishes like the kitchen style or the bathroom tiles etc.