180822 – The “Justa” Project

One of the recurring themes with projects is the “Justa” project. Client phones up with “I’d like some plans drawn for a project, It is just a small extension”. It happens on bigger projects too. They want an extension, and it follows this chain of events:

  1. phone a builder (not FMB or CIOB or NHBC registered.
  2. who phones up an ‘architect’ they know (nearly always nothing of the sort but cheap) to draw something up they can build.
  3. they give you the client a price.
  4. they submit for planning and it gets refused.
  5. they redraw and resubmit, eventually it gets approved once they’ve worn the planning officer down.
  6. the cost to you goes up.
  7. they draw up the construction information, submit for a Building Notice and start work.
  8. the building officer is unhappy with some of the work.
  9. they rebuilt to the BCO’s advice.
  10. the cost to you goes up again.
  11. you visit site and are not building what you wanted.
  12. they rebuild to what you wanted.
  13. the cost to you goes up again.
  14. the building is completed and you discover although it is what you said you wanted it turns out not to be what you need.
  15. errors in the building appear but you had no fair building contract and there is no building warranty.
  16. the cost of repairs has to be paid for by you as the insurers are unhappy with the fact they were not consulted.


It might not all happen but that might sound familiar and I have simplified the process in the diagram below:

However, if you appoint an architect (the ONLY full list of them is at http://www.arb.org.uk) such as KR.eativ: Architects Ltd. (the earlier the better, and way before even thinking about a builder) we will assess your ‘needs’ from your ‘wants’ and design a building that meets your budget (on a cost per sq.m basis). We then submit only sufficient information that the planners and building regulations inspector need to make a decision. Once we have the approvals we will draw up all the information that the contractor needs to price and construct the building with the schedules and specifications they need. We then draw up a FAIR Building Contract (RIBA or JCT) between you and the builder where we are the contract administrator and certify progress, payment, and completion etc checking that the building is progressing in accordance with the drawings. ALL communication between you and the builder regarding the project is through us as CA and architect to ensure nothing changes that has a serious ‘knock on’ effect or pushes the scheme over the agreed budget without your approval.

By adding information sequentially, using BIM the prototype we are building in ‘cyberspace’, it can be used to test lighting, energy performance, etc as the design develops minimising wasting time. It does not make sense to decide to early that the kitchen has to be an x,y,z as a generic layout is a much as you need for the local authority approvals. and you can change you mind whether it is going to be x,y,z or a,b,c until we go out to tender saving potential wasted time and effort. But you do need to tell the contractor at tender stage where all the power sockets are, their height, material and colour etc. The earlier you can decide any energy saving devices you require (generically) the better the thermal performance will be. Likewise it is useful to know that you will need a charging point for an electric vehicle early on, but the fact that it will be a Tesla Model 12345 can be decided later.

I have been designing buildings and working on existing and listed ones for 40 years now, and as KR.eativ: Architects Ltd I’ve been using the latest ‘BIM’ software for a decade as it is the most efficient and accurate way of working.