Frequently Asked Questions

If you haven't worked with an Architect before, these answers should help with your most pressing questions.

What services do Architects provide?

When it comes to designing your project, we see the big picture. We help you explore your functional requirements and what your aesthetic preferences are. For more information on why you should use an Architect on your next project click here.

 

We coordinate design, engineering and construction professionals. Most importantly, we provide the design leadership so to realise your project the way it was intended.

 

Are you a full-service architect?

Yes, we are! We provide a full service; we can cover the entire process, from initial consultation, to design and planning, tender and contract management, snagging and handover.

 

Alternatively, we can also perform one or more of these duties solely according to your circumstances and preferences, often under your project manager.

Where do you work?

We have offices in Southampton and Coventry. This allows us to cover mainland UK effectively. Depending upon the location of your project it will be taken on by either one of our offices.

 

We have completed projects across the country – see our projects pages for more information. And, if the project is the right fit, distance isn’t an issue.

At what point in my project should I involve an Architect?

You should start looking for an Architect as soon as you decide you want to begin planning your project. Involving us early in the process means we can provide creative advice most effectively the earlier we are involved in the process. This can help to make the best of opportunities and avoid costly missteps.

 

We provide services like site evaluation – this is very important in the early stages of a project. The way we go about evaluating a site is to start with natural and built features, legal/deed restrictions, topography, etc - the things that define where we can and can’t build. From there we look at all these constraints to see what can be used to benefit the design. Beyond this, it’s a fine balance between the site’s potential and the Client’s program and budget.

How do I find the right Architect for my project?

It is important to find an Architect who makes you feel comfortable in having open conversations about your requirements and goals for your project. The key point is communication and great service.

 

It’s also critical that you find an Architect with experience in the type of project you are undertaking. Seek recommendations from those you know who've previously worked with an Architect.

 

We have experience in many sectors at different scales and budgets. These include Retail, Leisure, Commercial, Residential and Education. See our project pages for examples.

Why Saunders?

We have experience

We’re celebrating our Centenary in 2022 – we have years of work to our name. This means great design and good relationships with industry consultants, Local Authorities and contractors across the UK.

 

We are affordable

We’re proud to offer excellent value for money for our services, from design and planning right through to build.

 

We are knowledgeable

We have a breadth of knowledge that makes us an excellent choice of Architect, and we have a vested interest in continuing to enhance the built environment in the UK.

 

We are professional

Whatever stage you’re at with your project, if you’re looking for honest and straightforward advice, talk to us, our contact details are below.

 

What kind of projects do you undertake?

We have worked on many projects around the UK in many sectors, including Retail, Commercial, Leisure, Education, and Residential. Within these broad areas, we have worked on all kinds of projects:

 

Extensions to private dwellings

New build dwellings

Work on and around Listed buildings

Leisure developments such as gyms and swimming pools

Commercial and mixed-use schemes from hotels to drive-thrus, and car dealerships to offices

Work for all types of education establishments – private schools, public primary schools, up to universities

Don't Architects add substantial cost to a project?

It's true that Architects' fees are an additional project cost. Working with an Architect can save you money in many ways.

 

Our design skills can reduce future energy and maintenance costs, provide efficient layouts so you only build what you really need. We can turn a difficult site into a successful finished project. And we take the time to carefully plan and develop your ideas to avoid changes once construction is underway.

How are Architects compensated – how are your fees worked out?

You can select all or part of our services and our fees will be worked out depending on your requirements.

Compensation often comes in the following forms: time-based, a fixed sum agreed at the start of the project, a percentage of the cost of the work, the project's area, or a unit cost (the number of rooms/dwellings, etc.). Time-based and fixed sums are most common.

 

We often base our fixed sums on a percentage of the project cost, when this in known. Invoices are raised at pre-agreed intervals or stages.

What's my role in the design process?

As a Client, you have an important role in the success of your project. Your Architect will depend on you to communicate your design preferences, functional requirements, budget, and program. Timely responses to questions and design sign-off will keep the project on program. Raise any concerns you have at the earliest opportunity, so they can be addressed by all who need to.

 

We believe a proactive Client contributes as much to a successful outcome as the rest of the design and construction teams.

How do we begin?

A great place to start is our free consultation. Both Client and Architect can find out about the project to work out if they’re a good fit for each other. You will have the opportunity to tell us about what you want and we can start to generate ideas and assess the feasibility of the project. This key first step sets the stage for the future relationship. Contact us for more information.

What can I get from the initial consultation?

The consultation is for both parties to get to know each other. You get to tell us about what you want to achieve, and we can start to provide you with design ideas and solutions.

I’m not sure what I want is feasible – how much do I have to commit?

This is exactly what the initial consultation is intended to achieve – it’s a no-commitment meeting where we can help you decide what is feasible and what isn’t. Our knowledge and expertise can help you understand what is possible, what isn’t, and the next steps.

Can I bring drawings from another Architect?

Absolutely! If you have existing planning or design drawings by other Architects, bring them to the consultation. If you need technical drawings, we well may advise you to conduct another survey to ensure they are correct, and we are able to suggest surveyors we've worked with.

How do I know I’ll like what I see? Can I change it if I don’t?

Most Architectural practices offer some revisions to their plans as part of their service, but it’s worth remembering that these changes take time to incorporate and have a knock-on effect on the rest of the project.

 

As such, it’s worth telling us about all the changes you’d like to make in as few revisions as possible as piecemeal changes can be costly in budget and program.

What is involved in the design process?

After the initial consultation we will liaise with you to ensure that you are completely satisfied and we will assess your ideas to develop a Brief. Depending upon the type of project this may include design concept sketches which will explore the use and layout for the building as well as fixing your budget and program.

 

The concept sketches will be used to develop the Detailed Design which will be prepared in CAD.

 

Will we need any other professionals on our project?

Every project is different and has different requirements and we will advise you of any other Consultants that you may require - a Structural Engineer, a Planning Consultant or Ecologist, for example.

 

What are the stages of work that you follow?

We follow the RIBA plan of work, a copy of which you can download here.

 

What does Planning permission involve and how long does it take?

Planning permission involves making a submission of information about your proposed build to the Local Planing Authority in order for them to assess what is proposed and give you permission to start building. Planning permission is there to make sure what you want to build is appropriate to the surroundings, so you’ll need:

A quality of design which enhances the site, streetscape, and local area;

Consideration of how the proposals may affect your neighbours;

A thorough understanding of any planning policies affecting your area;

 

With all of the above, if you can show the Local Authority Planning department that your proposal meets their rules, policies and guidelines, they can give you permission to start building. This usually comes with the condition that you must start building within a given time period following approval.

 

As a rule, Planning permission takes around eight weeks from submission to decision, although in some cases it may take up to twelve weeks.

 

Do you deal with the Local Authority with Planning and Building Control?

There are certain things that you will need to provide us with, however we are well experienced in putting together planning and building control submissions.

 

Do you guarantee planning permission?

No, and no Architectural, or Surveying company worth their fee should guarantee planning permission.

We are able to take into account the factors which affect your site and create a design that is very likely to be accepted by the local authority, but there are no guarantees.

Do you know any building Contractors?

Yes, we do! Having worked with many Contractors we are in a position to give recommendations.