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Life-led design is about creating practical, beautiful spaces that enhance the way you work, rest and play. But there’s a fair bit to do to advance from brief to building work. 

The process below shows how an AGORA project might run if we were involved from start to finish, which is our preferred way of working. It’s based on the RIBA Plan of Work, and guides the different stages of discussion, development and negotiation.  

Life-led design is about creating practical, beautiful spaces that enhance the way you work, rest and play. But there’s a fair bit to do to advance from brief to building work. 

The process below shows how an AGORA project might run if we were involved from start to finish, which is our preferred way of working. It’s based on the RIBA Plan of Work, and guides the different stages of discussion, development and negotiation.

Our initial meeting with you is our first chance to find out about you and your project. It’s also a time for you to find out about us: how we work, timescales and costs.  We can then decide a way forward and how we can assist. At this stage we will prepare a fee proposal, clearly explaining the costs for each of the following stages. If you’re happy with everything, we’ll prepare an appointment and we can move to the next stage.

We’ll have another, more in-depth conversation at this stage.  What are the problems you’re looking to resolve? What are your aspirations? What is your budget? If you’ve been collecting images on Pinterest or in a folder this is the time to share them with us.  We’ll explore the site and any existing buildings, and identify any key challenges or opportunities.  We’ll also assist you to commission a measured survey (or a topographical survey for a new-build). Then comes the fun part, where we translate our initial discussions into design ideas.  Hopefully we’ll come up with some ideas you hadn’t considered before, but everything is up for discussion at this stage.  It isn’t all about nice ideas though: we will also consider costs, the practicalities of carrying out the work, and sustainability.

Once we have an agreed design, we will start adding additional layers of information to be sure that we’ve considered all aspects: materials, privacy, views, natural light… 

This is also a natural time for us to work with any other professionals, makers and creatives you wish to deploy on your brief. We are big believers in collaboration, and are happy to partner with other experts where you feel their expertise will enrich the end result. 

We will then prepare a package of information to submit to the planning department.  At this stage we want to explain to the planners how we arrived at our design solution, so we might provide design statements and 3D visuals, as well as, of course, a set of beautifully presented drawings.

This is where the more technical aspects of the project are explored in more detail.  If they haven’t already been involved, we will work with a structural engineer to ensure the proposals are strong and efficiently designed.  We will prepare a detailed set of drawings and specifications covering everything from insulation types and roofing materials through to electrical layouts and drainage.  We will deal with the council on your behalf, from submitting the application, through to answering queries and obtaining the building warrant.

While we love being involved until the end of a project, you may decide to project manage the construction phase yourself.  If you do want further assistance with the tendering and construction stages, we can provide these optional services:

Once all of the permissions are in place, it’s time to find a builder and make the designs become reality.  We will prepare a tender package, which includes detailed drawings as well as in-depth information about internal finishes, bespoke joinery, kitchens, bathrooms etc.  We always include a Schedule of Works, which is a detailed list of tasks for the contractor.

If you don’t have a builder already, we can provide details of companies we feel would be a good match.  We will co-ordinate the issue of information to the tendering contractors, and answer any questions they have.  Once we have received the tenders we will prepare a report for you.  Choosing a contractor isn’t all about cost, with trust, experience and chemistry all playing a part.  We will support you to make your decision, before preparing contracts.

This is where all of that design and preparation becomes a reality.  It can be an exciting and scary time, and we are there to take the pressure off you and make the process as stress-free as possible.  We will visit site regularly and check that all work is being carried out in accordance with the contract drawings and building regulations, and to a high standard.  We will answer any questions the contractor might have, and help to resolve any problems encountered.  We’ll provide regular reports with updates on progress, any decisions that need to be made, and photos.  We will also act as contract administrator, meaning we will manage any necessary changes, and certify payments.  Once the work is complete we will issue a Certificate of Practical Completion to the contractor, and ensure you receive your Completion Certificate from the council.

Once you’ve moved into your new home it’s likely there will be some fine tuning to make sure everything is working just as it should be.  We will work with you and the contractor to ensure that everything is working correctly and that any little issues that arise are resolved.  Only once you’re completely happy will we issue the Final Certificate, meaning the contractor receives their final payment, and the house is completely yours to enjoy.

We can also act as Principal Designer under the CDM regulations 2015.  When you have a project involving more than one contractor, it’s a legal requirement to appoint a Principal Designer.  Their role is to check that all of the designers and contractors have considered and tried to eliminate risks.  It’s a natural role for us to take on, and, unless you want someone else to do it, one that we do on all of our projects.