Working with an architect: what happens at a design meeting?

We often find our clients are unsure about what to expect from a design meeting with us.

That’s why we thought we’d step you through the process, with reference to a home extension project we undertook in the Forest of Dean. So you can see exactly how your initial design meeting might go.

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Scheduling the initial design meeting

Following a first discussion and an extensive site survey and it’s time to arrange an initial design meeting At this stage, we have developed a good background understanding of the project site and its surroundings and feel we’re in a position to have meaningful discussions regarding the extension design.

What will we talk about?

The aim of the meeting is to discuss in detail what you’re looking to achieve with your development and guide you through some of the initial design decisions that will need to be made. We will also discuss our initial findings on site and any factors that might create a challenge to the build you’re looking to do. We often encourage meetings of this type, either at our offices, client’s home, or on site to get a feel for the project and development at an early stage.

In our Forest of Dean example, the project was faced with a number of difficulties in terms of future development of the property. This was for a variety of reasons.

The property was a two-storey house that they were seeking to develop with side and rear extensions. However, the house is located close to neighbouring properties and so did not benefit from lots of natural light. It was built on varying ground levels and to add further complications was also in a conservation area.

What to expect from us

During a standard design meeting of this type, our clients generally have a few questions and require guidance on topics such as:

  • Construction types and their advantages / disadvantages

  • Building design features, whilst considering Local & National planning policies

  • and local design guides

  • Site restrictions and potential design solutions

  • Potential project budget and estimate figures

  • Planning application procedure, including local authority fees and application timescales. Also, exactly what information is needed to obtain local authority approvals

  • Designated areas or buildings, such as listed buildings, conservation areas or areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs)

  • Party Wall Agreements with adjoining property owners

As well as a multitude of other project queries. A design meeting such as this is a great place to raise any concerns and get everything out in the open.

At the design meetings we will offer clear architectural advice as well as some initial design sketches to help our clients achieve their requirements, while always offering the best value against their budget that we can. We’ll also look for innovative ways of overcoming obstacles, such as those of insufficient natural light and differing ground levels face by our Forest of Dean house.

And the end result?

After deliberation, discussion, checking requirements, addressing potential concerns and applying our design experience, we will eventually be able to agree on a design in principle that everybody is happy with. When you’re working with an architect, the design meeting is the real starting point for us to develop the design and produce documents in sufficient detail to submit a planning application.

And that’s exactly what we were able to do our example case.

Find out more about the design process we go through to make sure your building project starts off on exactly the right note.