Our 6 stage process
Spaces that meet the needs of a large demographic of people with varying levels of interest can be very hard to manage. Thinking Buildings are well experienced in working with large user groups, balancing their needs within the parameters of the project while keeping an eye on quality design and budget. The following sets out how Thinking Buildings can support you and your team through this process.
#1. Brief & feasibility
The starting point for every project is to understand your goals and aspirations, and Thinking Buildings will work with you to develop a brief that gets to the core of your requirements. It may feel like we question everything, our methodology to understand the decisions and processes that have come before, but we will listen and remain approachable because this is about you and your project. Where multiple stakeholders are involved, Thinking Buildings will support you in engagement meetings while thinking about the balance needed to keep your project on course.
The budget is also a key part of the briefing process because we want to find cost effective solutions that are proportionate to the budget while delivering beautiful spaces and managing expectations. Thinking Buildings can also support you in securing outside funding, having specific experience in working with local authorities to access S106 funding.
Where a project may be part of a larger development, Thinking Buildings can help develop a Premises Development Plan which will help you understand your existing accommodation and develop a strategy for expansion. Master Planning can also form part of this process, and Thinking Buildings can help you look at your long term goals, developing a multi-year plan of development.
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 can start thinking about the concept design. The first stage of this process is to balance out all of the factors identified during the briefing process and present some sketch proposals, the first ideas that start to test and challenge the brief. The design process is an iterative one and Thinking Buildings will collaboratively work with you and your stakeholders to establish what does not work just as much as what does. Involving stakeholders at this early stage can be quite challenging, but Thinking Buildings can help facilitate engagement meetings, understanding that early involvement has long term gains while avoiding a design by committee.
Depending on the complexity or sensitivity of the scheme, we may recommend you engage with the local planning authority, and Thinking Buildings can help with preparing, submitting and managing the pre-application planning process. Early engagement with a design team also brings long term benefits, and Thinking Buildings can support you in the appointment of a competent design team.
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
Once the viability of the project has been confirmed, Thinking Buildings will consider all of the information collated at concept design, to work with you and your stakeholders 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 reflection. As the design progresses, Thinking Buildings will work in BIM to deliver a 3D representation of your scheme, from which the relevant plans, elevations and potentially renders will be produced to support a 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. Further engagement with user groups and local residents pre-planning can 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 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
Having secured planning consent, along with any other statutory permissions, Thinking Buildings will 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 door. 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 hands-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. 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 a problem.
There are a number of procurement options available, 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 and to offer you an opportunity to do a final check to ensure 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. 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