Our 6 stage process
Thinking Buildings understand the need to think about balancing beautiful design with cost effective solutions to support sound investment opportunities. Thinking Buildings can manage everything from the start to finish to simplify the process for you, and agree a procurement strategy that suits your needs. The following sets out the steps we would take to support you.
#1. Brief & feasibility
The briefing process for any commercial scheme is crucial, and Thinking Buildings will engage with you, and potential tenants and operators, to understand the requirements and ambitions of the development, along with the budget. With this information, Thinking Buildings can start to test the viability of the development site to see how we can maximise your investment while delivering a quality environment. Thinking Buildings can also work with you and your team to develop a masterplan should the development include a phased or long term expansion.
At this early stage, Thinking Buildings will set out whether the project needs the support of other consultants, or requires investigations of on site environmental factors. This information gives some early indication of costs and project risk, but helps to inform any opportunities that the site offers.
#2. Concept design
Once the brief has been agreed, Thinking Buildings will start exploring the concept design, balancing all of the factors identified during the briefing process. We will present sketch proposals to you to further test and challenge the brief. The design process is an iterative one and Thinking Buildings will collaboratively work with you and your potential tenants and operators to establish what does not work just as much as what does.
Depending on the complexity or sensitivity of the scheme, we are likely to recommend you engage with the local planning authority. Thinking Buildings can help with preparing, submitting and managing the pre-application planning process, or work with your own planning team, to give you the strongest planning position. Early engagement with a design team also brings long term benefits in understanding project costs and risks. Thinking Buildings can support you in the appointment of a competent design team and managing the instruction of necessary site investigations.
This stage of the project isn’t about finding the perfect solution, but collating enough information to establish if the scheme is viable, and Thinking Buildings would typically close out this stage with a Stage 2 Report for your approval.
#3. Planning, design & submission
The viability of the project has been confirmed and Thinking Buildings will now consider all of the information collated at concept design, to work with you and your potential tenants and operators to design and deliver the scheme that is right for you and your site. Typically this will be an evolution of the design developed so far, but it could well be a different iteration if requirements or external factors change. As the design progresses, Thinking Buildings will work in BIM to deliver a 3D representation of your scheme, promoting collaboration with the design team at an early stage. From this one model the relevant plans, elevations and potentially renders will be produced to support your planning application.
Thinking Buildings will continue to support you in appointing and managing the design team, and obtaining site investigation and survey information, thinking about what is proportionate to the scheme and planning application. Engagement with local residents pre-planning can also help gain support for an application, and Thinking Buildings have an approachable team that can help facilitate these meetings.
As the design takes shape, Thinking Buildings can start to support you directly, or work alongside a Planning Consultant, to prepare the relevant planning documentation and application forms to give the project the best opportunity for approval. Prior to making the application, Thinking Buildings can prepare a Stage 3 Report summarising design, cost and risk information to give you reassurance that the scheme has remained true to your original requirements, before submitting and liaison with the appointed planning officer through the determination process.
#4. Technical design
Planning consent has been secured, along with any other statutory permissions, and Thinking Buildings will now take the vision developed at the early stages and make it buildable. This is the longest and most involved process, thinking about how everything works, specifying how the building will be built, and from what, down to the finer detail of the hinges on a doorset. Thinking Buildings take care of all technical aspects of a project, including the building regulations, the thermal and energy performance requirements and the finishes, allowing you to be as hand-on as you wish to be.
As Lead Designer, Thinking Buildings will help with the appointment and management of the design team along with the design process, allowing you to be as hands on as you wish. Working in BIM to create a 3D prototype of the building before it gets to site is a great way to share information and promote collaboration between the design team members. Being a prototype, we can test ideas and improve coordination, spotting challenges before they become problems, and gaining benefits in time and cost.
There are a number of procurement options available, including hybrid approaches too for clients who want more control but less risk, and Thinking Buildings will guide you through this decision making process. The tendering process will be different depending on this choice, but Thinking Buildings can take care of collating the tendering and contractual documents, developing a short list of competent contractors appropriate to the project, submitting and monitoring the tendering process, and preparing a recommendation, again allowing you to be as involved in the process as you wish.
Prior to issuing a tendering package, Thinking Buildings can collate a Stage 4 Report as a summary of progress, cost and risk to offer you an opportunity to do a final check ensuring the project maintains a path that will meet your needs.
#5. Construction phase
A Contractor has been selected, but before the project can get to site, Thinking Buildings will take care of preparing and issuing the Contract documentation, along with facilitating the necessary meetings between you and the contractor. Once on site, Thinking Buildings offer a full service, carrying out regular site inspections, administering the contract, issuing monthly valuations, providing stage certification, along with additional design support where necessary. It is typical for final decisions on colours and finishes to take place at this point and Thinking Buildings can provide as much or as little support as you wish.
Thinking Buildings will continue to monitor progress throughout the construction phase to ensure the project is delivered in accordance with the contractual documentation, while ensuring you meet all of your legal and health & safety obligations. Thinking Buildings can facilitate client meetings and issue progress reports giving you the choice on how involved you want to be, and as the project nears completion, carry out snagging inspections to ensure the building is prepared for you to take possession once the project becomes practical complete.
#6. Completion & handover
Once you take possession of the building, there is a rectification period of typically a year in which the building is expected to ‘settle’. At the start of this period, Thinking Buildings will ensure you get the support you need to familiarise yourself with your new surroundings and ensure critical defects are addressed in a timely manner. Towards the end of the defect period, Thinking Buildings will be back to carry out final snagging inspections before certifying the building as complete and closing out the contractual obligations.
This is not the end however, Thinking Buildings will always be approachable should any latent defects appear after this period, and ensure these are resolved in a timely manner.
Take a look at some of our recent work