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architects north west BCAE architects preston

Our process

No two projects are the same, just as no two clients are the same.


Our aim as your architect is to deliver your dream, creating bespoke designs that are simple, engaging, beautiful and surpass your expectations.  

At BCAE Architects, we love being your partners from start to finish. From brainstorming innovative ideas to navigating the intricacies of the planning process, we're with you every step of the way. Our involvement extends to crafting detailed drawings, aiding in builder selection, acting as contract administrators, and providing supportive guidance throughout construction. 


Flexibility is key to our approach. Whether you prefer hands-on involvement or wish to take the lead post-design and planning approval, we adapt to your preferences. We offer a range of architect services tailored to your project's unique needs—whether it's a new build, a modest improvement, or a large-scale transformation. 


Navigating an architectural project for the first time? We've got you covered. We outline the architect's role and what to expect at each stage, providing clarity and support. Give us a call, and let's set your project in motion, with flexibility and creativity at the core of our architectural services. 

  • Consultation is the key first step to any new build, extension or renovation project – and it all starts with an initial chat.  


    Whether you have a clear idea or need some guidance to help shape your plans, our consultation will delve into the feasibility, explore possibilities, acknowledge limitations, and discuss costs. Taking your high-level brief into account, we offer our insights on strategy and present a comprehensive fee proposal. It's the first step towards turning your ideas into a tangible and well-informed architectural endeavour. Let's start the conversation that sets the foundation for your project's success. 



    For most projects we would normally suggest an initial meeting on site to discuss your initial thoughts, and the process in more detail. This a free consultation and we find it an important step for us to fully understand your requirements and what you want to achieve. 

  • Taking the Brief 

    At this point, our questions take on a more personal touch. If we haven't had the pleasure of meeting you yet, now is the perfect time – and we'd love to meet not just you, but your partner, family, dog, colleagues, or customers (depending on the nature of the project, of course). 


    We'll take your detailed brief, asking you to complete a questionnaire about your accommodation, style and lifestyle requirements, share your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and the things you'd rather avoid. We soak it all up and still want to know more. We'll also ask you to create a Pinterest board, so we can understand your style preferences. 


    Site Analysis 

    Moving forward, we explore your site, whether it's your existing home or a potential project site. We analyse the constraints and opportunities, producing comprehensive existing drawings. Simultaneously, we research local planning policies and the site's history to inform our proposals. 


    If needed, we assist you in commissioning a 'measured survey,' ensuring we have millimetre-perfect plans essential for our creative process. We recommend a surveyor, clarify the process (including the cost), and on the day, you just need to open the door for them. Let the journey into creativity and precision commence! 


    Outline Design/Feasibility/Workshop 

    This optional stage is ideal for those who are contemplating changes but are not yet certain of the exact direction. Whether you're testing the waters to see if a transformative idea is feasible or seeking quick options to improve an existing property before considering a move, our workshop stage is designed to bring your aspirations to the forefront.  


    Through open discussions, creative brainstorming, and a comprehensive exploration of possibilities, we pave the way for informed decisions and set the foundation for the architectural journey ahead. 



    At the end of this stage we will have an understanding of all the factual information regarding the site, your requirements and what we need to overcome to achieve them. 


    If you've undertaken the outline design phase you'll also have some sketch layouts and mood boards which give an idea of how we will progress the design into the next stages. 

  • Drawing on our wealth of project experience, we approach your project with a fresh perspective, thinking outside any box and focusing entirely on your unique needs. We explore different concepts through 2D drawings, 3D drawings, and models, using whatever materials necessary to bring our vision to life. We consider the feel of the spaces, create mood boards, and even brainstorm ideas for furniture. 


    At this point, everything is in a raw, discussable state (and there will be a lot of discussion). Your positive and enthusiastic reactions guide us, indicating that we're hitting the right notes and heading in the right direction. 


    According to your specific brief, the spaces we have created will be fully furnished to allow you to fully envisage how you will live in your new home or space. However, it's not all about mood boards and models. We also consider practical aspects such as time and cost, sustainability, and health and safety.  


    If needed, we even test the waters with the local Planning department. It's a dynamic phase where creativity meets practicality, shaping the foundation for the next steps in your architectural journey. 



    Taking everything we learned and shared during our consultations we create initial designs concepts for you to review & a meeting to discuss your thoughts and answer any design queries.  


    We'll present you with a complete building design. You'll not only see what it looks like but also feel its essence and grasp the scale of each space (through our VR headsets). You'll be able to see how light interacts with different spaces, and understand the dimensions of each space. It's the moment where your vision transforms into a tangible and visually compelling architectural plan.

    Pre Application Submission 

    A pre-application provides an opportunity to engage with planning authorities before submitting a formal planning application. This early insight helps identify potential issues or concerns, allowing you to address them proactively. 


    By engaging with planning authorities early on, we can mitigate risks associated with the proposed development. Understanding potential challenges upfront enables us to make adjustments to increase the likelihood of a successful planning application. 



    For the Pre Application we would submit a full design proposal along with a design statement to tell the story of the proposals to the planning office. This includes all the research from the initial stage, coupled with design and policy justifications. Additionally, we engage in discussions with the planning officer to present and discuss the proposals.  


    Following the response from the local authority, you will gain a clear understanding of the necessary steps to secure approval. 

  • As we dive into the next stage, we focus on refining the concept design based on our discussions during the concept design meeting, we'll also pick up any comments from the Pre Application. This is a crucial step as we transition from rough sketches to detailed plans, ensuring that every element is not just aesthetically pleasing but also functional.  


    Preparing for the planning phase is an exciting period for both you and us. We  gather any additional requirements the planners might need, such as Listed Building consent or a bat survey, and compile the essential Design and Access Statement.  


    But it’s not just the planners who are on our minds. We need to think about your neighbours too. We’ll give you everything you need to talk them through our plans, and we’ll happily answer any questions or worries they might have. Anything to get us off to a good start. 



    Like the concept design stage we'll arrange a meeting for us to present the developed design and discuss any further refinements prior to the preparation of the planning submission. 


    Planning Submission 

    In this phase, we assemble the comprehensive planning submission package essential for the formal planning application. We'll address any comments received during the pre-application stage and finalise the planning drawings package.  


    Reaching the planning stage feels like hitting a milestone – that satisfying moment when we click 'Submit' after fine-tuning your application to perfection. 


    Our role doesn't end with submission, we're keeping all lines of communication open – collaborating with any planning consultants we've brought on board, picking up any questions or concerns the planners might throw our way. 



    Upon completion of this stage, you'll possess a full planning submission package featuring supporting statements and surveys. BCAE will take charge of submitting and overseeing your planning application.  


    Typically, you can anticipate a decision within 9-13 weeks from submission, although this timeframe may vary based on the workload of the planning department. 

  • Building Regulations - The Ingredients 

    Building Regulations approval is required for the majority of construction projects. Our process involves transforming the planning approved drawings into a detailed drawing package to satisfy the relevant ‘Approved Documents’ ensuring your project meets safety and regulatory standards. 


    Before diving into the details, we engage in open discussions with you to understand your vision, budget, and any specific preferences you may have. We guide you through different construction methods, helping you make informed decisions that suit your project's needs.  


    Whether it's about aligning with your budget or incorporating eco-friendly features, we tailor our approach to your unique requirements. We will also suggest other consultants that we regularly work with who will be required to provide input for the building regulations application (Structural, Drainage and energy consultants). If the Planning department has specified certain conditions, we bring these into the equation too. 


    Finally, we handle the submission and approval process with local authorities, making the entire process seamless for you. At BCAE Architects, we are not just architects; we are your partners in turning your vision into a reality while ensuring compliance with all necessary regulations. 



    At the completion of this stage, you'll have a building regulations submission package, aligning with the government's 'Approved Documents' for Building Regulations compliance.  


    Choosing between an approved inspector and local authority, we guide you through the decision-making process, considering factors like efficiency, cost, and expertise. Whether you opt for an approved inspector or the local authority, our role is to facilitate a smooth submission and approval process. This typically takes 5-8 weeks with the local authority. 



    Technical Design/Tender - The Instructions 

    During this stage we consolidate all technical information and collaborate with consultants to create a comprehensive 'tender package.' This detailed manual serves as a guide for builders, encompassing specifications, technical drawings, and a schedule of works.  


    This is the stage where we control the quality of the final build, by nailing all of these things now, we avoid unexpected costs, unforeseen delays and other not-so-pleasant surprises during the build. 


    The Building Regulations drawings, do not encompass internal design choices, fixtures, fittings, or mechanical/electrical layouts, therefore during this stage we engage with you on the finer points of design—exploring materials, textures, colours, and interior elements, its much easier and cheaper to make these decisions now, in our warm studio with a coffee, than when you are stood on a wet and windy site with builders stood round waiting for answers. 


    Once we've got everything covered, we then share the tender package with a carefully selected shortlist of potential builders, ensuring they have a clear understanding of the project's requirements for accurate pricing. 


    After receiving the returns, we review them together, carefully weighing each proposal against the others. Our decision-making process extends beyond mere cost considerations—We like to work with people we trust, people who care about doing a beautiful job. Our weighing-up process takes all that into account too. 


    Subsequently, we prepare a detailed building contract for you and the selected builder to sign, establishing the formal terms and conditions of the construction agreement. 



    At the end of this stage, you will have a detailed tender package. We conduct a thorough tender review, examining potential cost savings through a detailed analysis of itemised prices. Our support extends to helping you choose a contractor, and we take on the role of Contract Administrator, overseeing the drafting and finalisation of the selected building contract. 

  • This is the most exciting stage of your architectural journey – where your new build, extension or renovation project comes to life. Once a contractor is selected, the construction stage begins.  


    Our main job is to manage the whole construction process. We work closely with the builders and other specialists to keep things on track, making sure everything happens when it's supposed to and within the budget we've planned together. 


    We visit the construction site regularly to check that everything being built matches the approved plans and meets your expectations. If there are any issues or things don't go as planned, we step in to find solutions and keep things moving smoothly. 


    Communication is key, so we make sure everyone involved—builders, specialists, and especially you—is in the loop. We're here to answer questions, address concerns, and keep the information flowing. Our goal is to make sure you feel supported and informed throughout the construction journey. 


    We’re your ‘contract administrators’ as well as your architect, and you can think of us as the go-between, answering questions from all sides and keeping everyone moving in the same direction.  


    Our job is to make the construction phase as stress-free as possible for you, so you can see your vision come to life without worrying about the details. 



    When the builder gets to the end of the schedule of works, with everything ticked off to our satisfaction, we give you a ‘practical completion’ certificate. The builder, meanwhile, gets sign-off from Building Control. 


    Then the builder moves out and you move in. 

  • You’re in, but for a year or so it’s not unusual for the odd thing to need sorting or fine-tuning — this is what we call snagging. Don't worry, we're still here to support you. We collaborate with the builder to address any loose ends and make sure everything is just right. 


    Throughout the construction process, we keep a close eye on the architectural details to catch any issues early on. It's like doing snagging inspections during every visit to the site. This helps us identify and communicate any concerns to the construction team promptly. 


    For that impeccable final touch, we conduct a comprehensive snagging inspection once the build is complete. Working together with you and/or the builder, we create a snagging list highlighting any items that need attention. Of course, the goal is to choose a top-notch builder from the start—one who gets things right initially, so the snagging list is minimal. 



    Once those loose ends are dealt with we issue a final certificate, which is another step on from the earlier ‘practical completion’ certificate. Now you can pay the builder’s last invoice and sit back, safe in the knowledge that everything’s just as it should be. 

architects north west - friendly team at BCAE architects

​Every client and site is unique, our aim as your architect is to deliver your dream, creating bespoke designs that are simple, engaging, beautiful and surpass your expectations. 

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