The Process

I’ve been thinking about this one for a while and it was reading through ‘the process’ of Bernbaum-Magadini Architects that I thought it would be a help to potential clients to see each stage and what is required and to see The Process of Mark Stephens Architectds. It also helps to clarify the process in my own mind. I feel that understanding the process is so important that I’ve added essentially this post as a separate page tab called The Process.

The completion of a construction project where you’re looking to extend, renovate or refurbish your home or even to build completely anew starts with a single, exploratory thought. And you could be now making that first thought and would like further information on each stage of the process that takes you on a journey to your completed project.

I compare the creation of an architectural project to the finding, cutting and polishing of a diamond. You start with the initial thought of digging for a diamond; that is the thought that you’d like to extend, renovate or build something that will improve your lives.

The first stage is to form a brief; the architect carefully listens to the clients requirements and interprets their practical and ‘look and feel’ requirements. I tend to formalise this brief so that both the client and architect can see what we are trying to achieve in a written format. sample_brief. All of the following images, photos and drawings come from the same project as an example of The Process – a two storey contemporary extension to a traditional farmhouse in County Roscommon. The important thing to bear in mind is that this solution was perfect for this client and your solution will be completely different.

The first idea from the architect is rough and unpolished, the working model may be chopped around a bit and the sketch drawings may have a few wobbly ‘sketch’ lines:


Sktech model that is frequently chopped, changed, glued and reglued


Initial sketch plan with ‘wobbly lines’


This first stage is effectively RIAI Work Stage 1 – Initial Design (Sketch proposals) – this LINK details the SERVICES and RIAI Work stages provided by Mark Stephens Architects

The next stage following analysis of the sketch design in relation to the brief, progresses the sketches to a more Developed Design. This frequently culminates in the submission of a Planning Application. Below is the same plan as submitted for planning permission with it’s accompanying front elevation. The planning application will also include site location/layout drawings, sections, details of effluent management etc…. This is effectively RIAI Work Stage 2 – Developed Design.


The design progressed and amended for a planning application


The accompanying front elevation. The planning application will include all elevations (even if unchanged) and sections through the building.

The next polishing of the drawings (remember the diamond analogy) is to progress the drawings further to include ALL the information for a contractor to accurately price and then construct the project. This is effectively RIAI Work Stage 3 – Detail Design. The ‘tender package’ will also include schedules, specifications, details etc…


One of the construction drawings for the project

You’re now at the stage where you can compare tender prices from contractors and choose the builder for your project. The final stage in The Process for the architect is to inspect and certify the construction to completion. This usually involves certificates for interim payments from client to contractor, bank certificates to ‘draw-don’ monies for a financial institution and finally to certify that that building is constructed in accordance with the planning permission, Building Regulations and with the construction drawings, details and specifications. Then, when all is finished the diamond is given one last final polish and you move in and enjoy the property:

Two storey modernist extension to contemporary farmhouse

Two storey modernist extension to contemporary farmhouse

This is RIAI Work Stage 4 – Construction (Inspection, Valuation, Certification & Contract Administration).

Mark Stephens Architects are very flexible in their approach; we can provide either ALL of the process or just a few of the stages. You will get the best benefit from your architect if he/she is appointed for the entire process but sometimes we provide a partial service. Please CONTACT us if you think we can help…

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