Architectural training is long and rigorous; however the true learning begins when practicing as an Architect.

Both Ruth and Bruce have been practicing for over 30 years and in that time they have acquired extensive knowledge on a broad range of subjects relating to the built environment. These include such diverse subjects as Health and Safety, Biophilic Design, Building Regulations and Construction Law; the list is extensive.

We are often asked questions about different subjects. Here we provide a brief summary of some of these subject areas:

When you appoint a Chartered Architect you are employing someone who has undertaken seven years’ architectural training, the longest in the building industry.

The term “Architect” is a protected title and UK law requires those that use it to be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Architects do not have to be registered with the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) but only Architects registered with the RIBA can be called “RIBA Chartered Members”. Anyone styling themselves ‘building consultant’, ‘architectural designer’, ‘plan drawer’ and so on is unlikely to be an Architect, and is unlikely to have comparable skill or knowledge and possibly no or inadequate insurance.

Architects provide a service that extends well beyond producing a set of drawings. Architects are professional problem-solvers. Their experience and insight can help stretch what can be achieved within your budget and add value to your project. They can suggest new ways of utilising space and light, enrich the palette of materials, finishes or fittings, and propose design solutions that will reduce your overall running costs whilst maximising the energy efficiency of your project. They can obtain all approvals and also assist with procuring builders as well as administering the building contract and inspecting and monitoring the construction work. At a fraction of the cost of your project, an Architect’s fees will prove a sound investment.

Evolution Directors are both Chartered Architects and RIBA members. Evolution is an RIBA Chartered Practice. This means that we are an accredited practice that meets the strict criteria of the Royal Institution of British Architects. The RIBA will only support practices who can demonstrate effective business performance and those who commit to excellence in the industry and therefore by appointing an RIBA Chartered Practice you know that the firm’s standards have to be high.

Planning legislation supports UK planning policy and takes the form of Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments.

There are numerous Acts that impact development in England, one of the main ones being the Town and Country Planning Act. Its goal is to ensure sustainable economic development and a better environment.

Whenever changing the use and/or appearance of land or structures/buildings, planning permission may need to be obtained from the appropriate Planning Authority, which in most instances will be the local council Planning Authority where the development is located.

Change of building/land use

Land and buildings are divided into various categories called ‘Planning Use Classes’, which determine the purpose for which they can be used. The Planning Use Classes exist to promote good planning and the right kind of environments in our villages, towns, and cities. The categories exist to discourage, for example, industrial buildings from being located in the same area as hotels. Use Classes are defined and controlled by The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended).

Usually a change of use of land or a building will require planning approval; however permission is not usually needed when existing and proposed uses fall within the same class, or if the Planning Use Classes Order allows a change of class to another specified class. In these cases, a property’s use classification can often be changed under permitted development rights.

Permitted development rights are set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended).

New development or the change of a buildings appearance/size

With the exception of some minor developments, planning permission is normally required for new buildings or any developments that change the appearance and size of a building/structure.

However, if a proposed development is considered as permitted development, as set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended), then planning permission is not required. Permitted development rights differ between Use Classes and will often be dependent on the scale and location of the development. This legislation was introduced in order to make it possible for certain types of developments to proceed without the need to go through the lengthy process of achieving planning permission. Even if a development complies as permitted development we always recommend that a Lawful Development application is made, as this confirms compliance.

If a development cannot be considered as permitted development and planning permission is required, then a planning application will have to be submitted to the relevant Planning Authority. The extent of information required to support this application and the time that it will take to be determined will vary depending on the scale, location and complexity of the development. The applications for small non controversial developments may just require simple drawings and a statement to be submitted with the application forms and may be determined in eight weeks. Applications for larger or complex developments may require more detailed drawings and additional supporting information, and may take several months to be determined.

Protected buildings/land

Some land/buildings have additional protection, these include the following:

  • Historically listed buildings
  • Conservation areas
  • Green belts
  • National parks

Protection may come in the form of national legislation or more local control via local planning policy. Permitted Development rights may also be restricted in these situations. In addition Article 4 Directions, may also be imposed by the local planning authority to control specific types of development, such as controlling the character of a conservation area, or restricting permitted development rights for a change of Use Class.

Development without appropriate permissions can be costly, it is always best to seek advice from an experienced Architect or Planning Consultant.

Evolution Architects have extensive experience of securing approval for all types of planning applications, lawful development applications and listed building applications. We sometimes work with Planning Consultants but will often act as the Client Agent and manage the process ourselves. We have also successfully managed and won Planning Appeals. No Architect can ever guarantee that planning permission will be granted. We will always provide Clients with an honest assessment of the likelihood of permission being granted or if the additional expertise of a Planning Consultant is required.

A ‘listed building’ is a building, object or structure that has been judged to be of national importance in terms of architectural or historic interest and included on a special register, called the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.

Buildings are listed to help protect the physical evidence of our past, including buildings, which are valued and protected as a central part of our cultural heritage and our sense of identity. Historic buildings also add to the quality of our lives, being an important aspect of the character and appearance of our towns, villages, and countryside.

It is important to note that the term ‘listed building’ includes:

  • The building itself, both internally and externally.
  • Any object or structure fixed to it
  • Any object or structure that has been within the curtilage of the building since 1948

Listed buildings are classified into grades as follows:

  • Grade I – buildings of exceptional interest
  • Grade II* – particularly important and more than special interest
  • Grade II – buildings of special interest, warranting every effort being made to preserve them (this is the most common)

Listed building consent is a type of planning control, which protects buildings of special architectural or historical interest. These controls are in addition to any planning regulations which would normally apply. Listed building status can also result in the requirement for planning permission where it wouldn’t ordinarily be required.

The controls apply to any works for the demolition of a listed building, or for its alteration or extension, which is likely to affect its character as a building of special architectural or historical interest. Permitted Development rights do not apply to Listed Buildings.

Applications for listed building consent are made to the relevant local Planning Authority. Securing Listed Building Consent is not always a straightforward process and often involves lengthy discussions with the Conservation Officer. Evolution have extensive experience of liaising with Conservation Officers and securing listed building consent, this includes projects such as Clarendon Mansions.

It should be noted that it is a criminal offence to carry out work which needs Listed Building consent without obtaining it beforehand.

The Building Regulations help ensure that new buildings, conversions, renovations and extensions (domestic or commercial) are going to be safe, healthy and high-performing.

The Building Regulations are defined by the Government. The Approved Documents of the Building Regulations comprise of a series of detailed guidance manuals covering everything from structure and fire safety through to security and electronic communications.

The Regulations are very detailed, and separated into the following areas:

  • Part A – Structure
  • Part B – Fire Safety
  • Part C – Site preparation and resistance to contamination and moisture.
  • Part D – Toxic Substances
  • Part E – Resistance to the passage of sound
  • Part F – Ventilation
  • Part G – Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency
  • Part H – Drainage and waste disposal
  • Part J – Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems
  • Part K – Protection from falling, collision and impact
  • Part L – Conservation of fuel and power
  • Part M – Access to and use of buildings
  • Part O – Overheating
  • Part P – Electrical Safety
  • Part Q – Security in dwellings
  • Part R – Physical infrastructure for high speed electronic communications networks
  • Part S – Infrastructure for Charging Electric Vehicles
  • Regulation 7

With the exception of very minor work, most projects will require either a Building Notice or Full Plans application to be submitted to the Local Authority Building Control Department or an Approved Inspector.

A Building Notice informs the Building Inspector of the intention to start work and is basically promising in advance that the applicant will comply with the Building Regulations on site. This might be feasible for some small domestic alterations or a very simple projects but it’s harder for larger projects. The Building Inspector will undertake site inspections, and if they uncover work that contravenes the regulations while it’s being built, such as the wrong type of insulation, work has to be stopped or re-constructed which could prove disruptive, as well as costly.

For most construction projects a Full Plans application is made. This involves submitting a set of construction drawings and specification before work commences on site, which demonstrate compliance with the regulations. The applicant will know from the start that the working drawings have been checked and approved by the Building Inspector and that the plans fully comply with all of the Building Regulations. Importantly, this means that any issues regarding non-compliance with the regulations can be agreed before building work actually starts. The Building Inspector will then inspect work on site; these inspections are not comprehensive but sufficient to check that the regulations have been complied with during construction.

The Building Regulation documents are for guidance only but following their requirements is normally considered sufficient to demonstrate compliance. The regulations are ‘grey’ in areas and open to interpretation, which is why it is important for Clients to appoint experienced professionals to assist with applications. Evolution have extensive experience of obtaining building regulation approval for all types of buildings and are used to managing the Building Regulation approval process for Clients.

Choosing the correct procurement route is an important decision in the development process and normally needs to be made at an early stage.

Each type of procurement has advantages and disadvantages and each construction client may rank some issues higher than others. Similarly, each project has its own issues meaning that it may be suited to one form of procurement rather than another. The issues to consider typically include:

  • Time
  • Complexity of arrangements
  • Nature and scope of construction
  • Quality
  • Potential for changes during construction
  • Cost certainty
  • Design responsibility
  • Risk
  • Control

Evolution have experience of many types of procurement routes. If approached by a Client for a project we will initially discuss the Clients requirements and suggest the best procurement route for the particular project based on the above criteria. If required we can manage the whole tender process and act as Contract Administrator for the construction period.

There are various procurement routes within the construction industry, with the main three being summarised as follows:

Traditional – Under this method an Employer engages the design team to undertake the design, secure approvals, and produce the construction drawings. Prices are then sought from contractors either through a competitive process or negotiations and a contractor is appointed to carry out the construction works in accordance with the design produced by the employer’s professional team. The employer and his design team retain complete control and responsibility for the design throughout the construction process and the contractor is responsible for the construction.

Design and Build – With this method, as opposed to being responsible for just construction, the contractor takes on responsibility for some or all of the design. As part of the tender process the employer submits its requirements to the contractor and the contractor responds by submitting its lump sum price for the project, together with its proposals for completing the design. In its purest form the employer provides a written document describing their requirements and the contractor will be responsible for providing a design and obtaining all approvals as well as undertaking the construction. However in most instances the employer engages a design team to undertake initial design work and obtain planning permission and a contractor is then appointed to undertake the detail design, obtain building regulation approval and undertake construction.

Management contracting – With this procurement route the works are constructed by a number of different works contractors who are contracted to a Management Contractor. The Employer engages its own professional team to design the project in the usual way, but also engages a Management Contractor to manage the construction works. The Management Contractor does not carry out any of the construction itself, but engages a series of subcontractors or works contractors, whom it manages and co-ordinates. The Management Contractor is generally appointed by the Client early in the design process so that they liaise with the design team regarding the construction. It also enables some works contracts to be tendered earlier than others, and sometimes, even before the design is completed, thus enabling an early start on site. There can be programme and cost benefits to this method, however there is no fixed construction cost before work commences.

Sometimes Clients will appoint the Architect to secure planning and building regulation approval only, they will then take this information and manage the whole construction process themselves. We can understand why Clients want to do this but without an experienced professional overseeing the process there is potential for disputes regarding quality of work, payment and programme. We will always make Clients aware of any risks in their chosen procurement method.

Many disputes arise due to ‘a builder friend’ being appointed without an adequate contract. Whatever the value or type of construction work or type of procurement used, Clients should avoid paying in advance and should always enter into a written contract with the Contractor. The contract in its simplest form could be a letter confirming the extent of construction work, how long it will take and how much it will cost. However, we will always recommend a standard construction contract should be used, such as those produced by the RIBA or JCT, as these have been developed specifically for construction projects.

As architects we have an ethical responsibility to design for the health of people and our planet. That is why our approach to sustainable design considers the environmental, social and economic factors to be part of a single, interconnected solution.

Evolution adheres to UK Green Building Council vision that the built environment should enable people and the planet to thrive by:

  • Mitigating and adapting to climate change
  • Eliminating waste and maximising resource efficiency
  • Embracing and restoring nature and promoting biodiversity
  • Optimising the health and wellbeing of people
  • Creating long-term value for society and improving quality of life

At Evolution we aim to work with our Clients and with other consultants and experts to develop design solutions that help deliver this vision. Creating architecture that improves people’s lives in meaningful ways and helps the natural world recuperate and flourish, creating a healthy, long-lasting future for all.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM 2015) are the regulations for managing the health, safety and welfare of construction projects. The regulations apply to both domestic and commercial clients.

These place a duty on the client to make suitable arrangements for managing a project, principally making sure duty holders are appointed (ie a Principal Designer and a Principal Contractor). The regulations also impose duties on designers, so Architects, Engineers and other consultants who undertake design work, to ensure that they give appropriate consideration to the construction during the design phase.

The HSE provides guidance for commercial clients and domestic clients in respect of these regulations.

If the project requires the appointment of a Principal Designer, then this individual, or company, is the designer (as defined in the Regulations) with control over the pre-construction phase who has the relevant skills, knowledge and experience to carry out all the functions of the role. The HSE consider that it is appropriate for the designer responsible for undertaking the majority of design work on the project to act as the Principal Designer, assuming they have the appropriate experience. This is because they have the greatest understanding and control of the design. In many instances this will be the Architect, however if the project mainly involves structural work it may be the Structural Engineer. Evolution can act as Principal Designer.

Most buildings in the UK today were built using a traditional approach of construction involving assembling small building components, such as bricks and blocks, on site. Alternative methods that depart from this approach are becoming increasingly common.

Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) is a collective term to describe these alternative construction practices. It involves designing, planning, manufacturing and assembling elements of a construction project in a controlled factory environment, prior to installation on site.

Modern methods of construction employ innovative practices such as:

  • Creating panelled units in factories, which can be quickly assembled onsite to create 3D structures.
  • Volumetric construction, which sees 3D, or pre-fabricated, units created under factory conditions.
  • Pre-cast concrete foundations and pre-assembled cabling systems.
  • Pre-fabricated floor and roof cassettes (panels).
  • Tunnel form wall and slab casting.

By using these techniques, it is argued that construction is quicker compared to traditional build methods, and greater certainty is brought to the process overall, in a variety of ways:

  • prefabricated components allow projects to be made watertight more quickly;
  • risk of delay due to bad weather is reduced;
  • cost and time savings can help to make projects viable;
  • build quality is enhanced thanks to stricter testing and auditing in factory environments;
  • safety is increased with fewer man hours required on site.

Evolution has experience of utilising off-site construction methods. At Bexhill Academy we utilised a Strief system, which incorporated off-site wall, floor and roof panels. At SeaLanes structural insulated panels (SIPs) have been utilised and Shoreham Academy 6th Form centre was procured utilising volumetric construction.

Haven’t found the answer here?

Please do contact us if you need any further advice.