A Guide for Homeowner Clients


For many of us, our homes are the most important buildings in our lives. We spend a large proportion of our time in them and they can have a huge effect on how we live.

We often take for granted that we rely on our homes to provide us with shelter, safety and security. Beyond this basic function they set the stage for much of our daily activity, special occasions, future memories, and reflect much about who we are.

If you have the opportunity to be able to build a unique new home, or wish to substantially change or extend your current home, knowing where to start to make the most of the opportunity can be difficult. We can offer you a professional service to help envisage and realise your ideal home.

Your home is a significant financial and emotional investment, so it is understandable to want to shape it to your personal needs, tastes and aspirations. Taking this beyond choices of furnishing and decoration, to fundamentally change the built form of your home, can be a daunting prospect without professional guidance.

We recognise that your project is a significant investment, of both time and money, in a building that is very personal to you. Here we have tried to provide, in one place, some information on DJD Architects, an explanation of the process to take the project forward, a range of fee options depending on what service you require, and some example fees.

We hope the information here helps you understand more about the process. When you have read through, if you have any queries or questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Why Choose DJD Architects?

We are an experienced RIBA Chartered Practice who have been delivering carefully considered architectural solutions, with a focus on design quality, for over 30 years.

We specialise in residential design at all scales and can offer a full architectural service from initial design concepts to delivery of a completed building.

Our Relationships

We truly value our working relationships, and a substantial volume of our work comes from repeat clients and through their recommendations. The following comments were received in our most recent round of independent client surveys:

“They have been absolutely brilliant, no frustrations, you can pick up the ‘phone and there is always someone there who can give advice.”

“It has been very interesting – we have had two practices involved in a project and they are like chalk and cheese. There are things DJD do that others don’t…this leads to a better product.”

“Flexibility. By this I mean they interact and work with us, are happy to take on our ideas. Having worked with many architects in the past, many are staid and rigid. Especially the further you get into a project, they don’t listen to you, but you are the client.”

We have established excellent relationships with a number of independent specialist consultants including: engineers; quantity surveyors; planning consultants; project managers; surveyors; and ecologists.
This means we can provide you with the relevant contacts you will need on your project.

Our People

We know our team is essential to the success of your project. We employ the right people and invest in their continuous development; offering a mentoring, development and training programme for each team member.

Our Design Approach

DJD Architects believe good design makes things better. We have tried to distill this into an approach that informs all of our projects. Read more about our design approach and take a look at some of our ongoing and past projects.

The Design Process

We recognise that different clients have different levels of experience, needs and expectations when it comes to building or extending a home. Whether you’re an experienced self-builder with a clear vision of what you want and just need help to deal with the regulatory hurdles before rolling up your sleeves and getting stuck in, or want someone who can help you define what will work best for you, develop a design that fulfils these requirements and steer the project right the way through to you moving in, then we can provide a bespoke service which covers only those services and stages you require.

Design is an iterative process and it is normal for things to evolve in a number of steps as ideas are tested and reviewed. By the end of this stage the general form and arrangement of the proposed building will be taking shape so this is the time to make sure the proposed arrangement suits your needs.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work provides a broad framework for the design and delivery stages of architectural projects, in sequence from initial briefing through design, construction to end use.

Project Work Stages

Stage 1 Preparation and Brief

This process starts with our initial meeting which may be on site with you or digitally over Microsoft Teams or FaceTime. If appointed we take this brief, explore options to determine what may be feasible and report to you.

These early ‘sketches’ would look to establish key principles, such as where would be best to build; how to take advantage of connections to the garden or great views; protect from road noise; connect to existing spaces or better arrange existing space. The purpose is to try and establish in a sketch the opportunities and constraints relevant to your project so that we can discuss these together, refine your brief and decide what to take forward.

This feasibility sketch may also be used to seek initial pre-application advice from the Local Planning Authority and might also be used to obtain an initial estimate of the construction cost from a quantity surveyor.

Our feasibility report will provide advice on likely planning restrictions, identify additional surveys or information needed, whether any other consultants may be needed on the project and provide clear options for taking the project forward.

Stage 2 Concept Design

We will begin to develop the concepts and ideas that will influence the resulting building; looking at how particular needs can be addressed, constraints dealt with and opportunities maximised, and as a result how individual spaces could be arranged and therefore what form this might take.

It may also be appropriate at this stage to seek (further) pre-application advice from the Local Planning Authority.

Design is an iterative process and it is normal for things to evolve in a number of steps as ideas are tested and reviewed. By the end of this stage the general form and arrangement of the proposed building will be taking shape so this is the time to make sure the proposed arrangement suits your needs.

Stage 3 Spatial Coordination

During this stage of design, the concept design from Stage 2 is refined and further developed to a level of detail that defines what it will look like and how it will sit in its context. This includes co-ordinating the work of other consultants (where appointed) into the design, for example the input of structural engineer or landscape architect.

By the end of this stage the design can be submitted to the local planning authority for planning approval and any other planning consents, such as listed building consent, that may be required.

Stage 4 Technical Design

At this point the design and appearance of the building has been defined and planning permission, where required, has been received. The technical design stage is concerned with developing the detailed documentation necessary to be able to demonstrate Building Regulations compliance and ultimately construct the building.

By the end of this stage you will have the information to make a Building Regulations application, either yourself or through us.

You might also want more detailed plans and specifications than are required simply for Building Control purposes to help to ensure the builder is clear about what you want and can provide an accurate price. These could include electrical layouts (indicating where sockets, lights, etc are to be located), construction details (of key junctions and specialist works or fittings), written specifications (setting out workmanship standards and more detail on the products and materials to be used), schedules of work (itemising the work to be carried out so that you can more easily compare prices from different builders) and schedules (itemising bathroom fittings, ironmongery, etc).

You may also want us to run a formal tender process for you, seeking prices from a number of builders and then setting up and administering a contract between you and the builder.

Stage 5 Construction

Some clients relish the prospect of being hands-on in the build, either physically on site or directly arranging the various trades.

Others prefer to have the process managed by a main contractor with the reassurance of a formal building contract administered by a professional team. In this case, we can carry out regular inspections of the work on site, deal with queries which might arise, formally instruct any additional work required, monitor progress, keep track of cost, value the works that have been completed and certify payments due to the builder.

We can discuss these services with you to enable you to make the best choice for your project, and tailor our service to suit you. By the end of this stage your building will be fully realised.

Stage 6 Handover and Close Out

If you have opted for us to administer a building contract and inspect the works for you, when the project is ready to handover we will make a final inspection of the works to certify that it has reached ‘Practical Completion’.

Under a building contract there is then normally a Rectification Period (normally 6 or 12 months) during which time we will be available to help deal with any defects that come to light, arranging for the builder to put these right. At the end of the Defects Period, we will certify that the defects have been resolved and certify the final payment to the builder.

What Service is Right For You?

Rather than telling you what service we think you need, we offer a range of service levels for you to choose from, allowing you to choose what range of services best suit your individual needs and budget.

These services and fees are laid out in the typical example fees at the end of this page, with four service levels for you to consider:


This is a very limited service where we provide straightforward design and technical input, up to Building Regulations application stage, but where you deal with any other consultants required, make your own applications dealing directly with the Local Planning Authority and Building Control.

Drawn information is limited to a basic set of plans, elevations and sections and does not include the 3D views or sketches which can help visualise and understand the project more clearly, or help in ‘selling’ the scheme to neighbours or the planners. Meetings are not included in this option with communication by email and telephone.

This option is designed for those who already have a good idea what their building will contain and how it should look, and probably have some previous building or development experience, in particular builders and tradespeople with existing industry contacts taking on their own developments.


With this option we provide design and technical input, as well as co-ordinating any other consultants required on the project, making planning and building regulation applications on your behalf and dealing with the Local Planning Authority and Building Control for you.

Drawn information includes plans, elevations and sections at concept and detailed design stage, and at technical design stage will include details of key building junctions, such as where new construction abuts an existing building. We will also provide you with schedule templates for electrical fittings, doors and windows, ironmongery and bathroom fittings so that you can fill these in with the specific fittings you choose to help you seek more reliable and comparable prices from builders. A meeting is included at each stage with this option.


This is a full service option expanding on the features of the Standard service and introducing the possibility of our involvement beyond the design stages to also include the construction phase. The service includes more contact time with additional meetings and includes 3D modelling & perspective views of the developing design to aid communication between us and help the evolving design come to life.

At the Technical Design stage a greater depth of information will be developed to facilitate formal tendering of the construction works, which we can undertake for you. We may also administer a formal contract between you the client and your contractor during the construction phase if you choose.


Going beyond the Enhanced service, our Premium level offers full digital modelling of the ‘virtual’ building as it develops to ensure you have the clearest possible understanding of what will be built. This service is particular suited to those with high design aspirations and challenging sites where there will be particular scrutiny during planning.

We will work with you to define not just the form and fabric of the building itself, but also those elements that will lift the interior to the next level, including kitchen, bathrooms and bespoke joinery elements and fixtures. Again, we can be involved throughout the build process ensuring that your high standards are achieved, right up to your moving in.

Additional Services

Of course, not all projects are created equal, and sometimes there may be particular requirements such as specialist surveys, imagery, or physical models to help the planners fully understand the design or demonstrate particular key views etc. In these cases we will provide quotations for such other services as the need arises.

The Intial Brief

Following an intial meeeting and appraisal of your property we will prepare some briefing notes in order to establish our understanding of your brief to us.

It is normal that as design proposals develop that this brief will also evolve, and that the end product may not be exactly as first outlined. It is this understanding that will form the basis on which our fees will be calculated, then should the nature of your brief depart drastically and affect the level of work involved then we may need to review the associated fees with you. Should we feel that the scope of the project is changing in this way then we will bring this to your attention at the earliest opportunity.

From our understanding of your project requirements we make an assessment of the scope of the project, in terms of the size, nature of the work and complexity involved, all of which will affect the extent of our work. Factors considered include:

Size; in general, the larger a building is, then the more work will be involved in its design and detailing (see also complexity, below).

New-build work is self-contained and therefore a relatively ‘known quantity’ with control possible over most aspects of the project.

Extensions are similar to new build, but with the additional complications that arise from having to interface with an existing building; sometimes this is straightforward ‘knock-through’, but often can be more complex in terms of the construction itself and considerations of mitigating the impact on your use of the rest of the house during the work.

Refurbishment and Renovation means there is usually less physical construction but the work itself is often the most disruptive and potentially complicated as it is happening within the home.

Complexity; not all buildings are the same, whether it be the difficulty of resolving the particular spatial and construction issues or level of detail required to achieve the desired result, the difference between a simple garage and a highly bespoke interior is vast. To quantify this we use a scale as follows:

Utilitarian buildings with basic design requirements and limited building services e.g garages & outbuildings.

Standard buildings with straightforward designs and simple requirements for building services and finishes.

Buildings either with more complex design challenges or incorporating a higher standard of detailing and finish.

High-end buildings with complex design requirements and/ or where a particularly high standard of finish is expected.

Our fees are set out by work stage and, we will progress from stage to stage on your instruction; there is no obligation to progress the project beyond a given stage e.g. you may wish to have our Enhanced service during design but choose to manage the construction works yourself.

VAT, where applicable, is chargeable on the net value of our fees and expenses. Reasonable expenses such as printing and travelling are included within our fee. Drawing and document issue will generally be as pdfs. Our fees do not include Local Authority fees eg for Planning Permission or Building Regulations Approval, which are payable direct to the Local Authority.

Our Services

Below are tables outlining what each service level includes at each stage of a project.

Example Fees

Below are example fees for some common types of project. It is important to note that these example fees and will vary as each project is unique.

20m2 Single Storey Extension eg kitchen, dining or family room

StageBasic Standard EnhancedPremium
1 Briefing£195£195£450£450
2 Concept Design£446£820£1040£1337
3 Spatial Coordination£386£708£901£1158
4 Technical Design£1099£1612£2564£3297
5 Construction£1940£2495
6 Handover£347£446

Refurbishment of Existing 120m2 House with Simple 40m2 Two Storey Extension

StageBasic Standard EnhancedPremium
1 Briefing£195£195£450£450
2 Concept Design£1030£1888£2402£3089
3 Spatial Coordination£892£1636£2082£2677
4 Technical Design£2540£3725£5926£7619
5 Construction£4484£5766
6 Handover£801£1030

150m2 Contemporary New Build House

StageBasic Standard EnhancedPremium
1 Briefing£195£195£450£450
2 Concept Design£1485£2723£3465£4455
3 Spatial Coordination£1287£2360£3033£3861
4 Technical Design£3663£5373£8547£10989
5 Construction£6468£8316
6 Handover£1155£1485

Other Things to Consider

It is usual for a number of other consultants to contribute to a project with their specialist knowledge and design abilities. Some of the more common ones are listed below and it is sensible to budget for the involvement of other consultants, surveys and reports when beginning to consider your project.

There will also be fees to for planning and Building Regulation applications, possibly also to statutory service providers or other public authorities.

It is important to remember that construction prices and consultants fees are often quoted without VAT so it is crucial to include for this.

Measured survey – A measured survey of the existing building will be needed to prepare existing drawings and proposals. Depending on the scale and complexity of the project we may be able to undertake this for you, or else a measured building or land surveyor will be needed to undertake a survey. These are often more detailed than our own surveys using 3D laser scanning which can produce very detailed information which is beneficial to the design process for more complicated or historic buildings.

QS – DJD Architects do not provide cost advice and would recommend the use of a Quantity Surveyor to provide an independent budget estimate as a scheme emerges in order to assess its viability, generally before committing to a planning application. The services of a Quantity Surveyor are recommended in all instances where budgetary constraints may affect the viability of a project.

Engineer – In most cases when altering the structure of an existing building or constructing a new one, the services of a structural and possibly civil engineer may be needed to provide calculations and design information for construction and for Building regulations consent.

Landscape architect – depending on the site and planning requirements, specialist design input may be needed from a landscape architect.

Interior designer – you may want to consider appointing an interior designer if this is something you consider you need particular assistance with.

Ecologist – Subject to the nature of the site or any existing buildings, it may be necessary to arrange protected species surveys by an ecologist. We would usually look to obtain confirmation of this from the Local Planing Authority through a pre-application planning enquiry before making a planning application.

This is not an exhaustive list and if other consultants or surveys are needed to support your project we will try our best to advise you of these at the outset, although it will not always be possible to anticipate every requirement of a project in advance. Should it become necessary to involve any other consultants in the project we will advise on this as the need arises.

Health and Safety Duties for Clients

The potential dangers of Construction work are well recognised, and in todays world the health and safety of those involved cannot be left to chance.  A framework for this has been established in law through the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 which define certain key roles and duties in the preparation for, and execution of, construction work.

The law places a number of duties on clients when arranging design and construction work. Fortunately, you are not expected to be an expert yourself, but you do have a duty to select a project team who have the necessary expertise, and provide them with the time and information that they need to take proper account of health and safety during the design, and construction phases of the project. The key appointments you will need to make are, initially, Principal Designer and later Principal Contractor.

If appointed as your architect, we will have a key role in coordinating the developing design, and therefore we will take on the formal role of Principal Designer for the stages where we are appointed as architect.

The Health and Safety Executive, HSE, provide extensive guidance through their website www.hse.gov.uk and other published materials.  As an introduction we would recommend that you read their short guide for clients on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

Getting Ready

If you are ready to start discussing your project with us, here are some items that will be useful to begin to gather or consider.

– Existing information, do you have any photographs or drawings of the existing site or building? Any historic information, details of services, legal title drawings, information about previous extensions, and other records are all potentially of use.
– Budget, do you have a fixed budget for the project or a range in which to work?
– Timescale, are there any key dates or deadlines which need to be taken into account?

If you are considering a project we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with the team for a chat about how to get started.

01905 612864