Let’s work together to get it right.

Beginning work on a building project can be nerve-wracking, particularly if you’ve never done this sort of thing before and you’re not sure what to expect. That’s why having friendly, professional architects on board can make all the difference. We’ll keep things clear and straightforward, making sure nothing is forgotten and helping to take the ideas in your head and turn them into a reality that’s even better than you could have possibly imagined.

Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect over the coming months if you choose Apex for your project:

Understanding the brief

Following a short conversation to find out a bit about the project, we’ll usually ask to meet you onsite. This helps us to get to know a bit about you and the project you’re asking us to look at. Don’t be surprised if we quiz you a little about what you’re trying to achieve.

We believe honesty is the best policy

It’s important to us that you’re making the right decisions for you. If there are likely to be difficulties with planning, issues with the site or if your completed project may not be worth the investment you’d have to make, we’ll tell you. It’s not that we like to find problems, but we feel it’s our duty to be honest with you.


Once we feel we’ve understood what’s required and done some checks on site we’ll prepare a Fee Proposal for you. This will set out options with associated fees and likely timescales, helping you gain clarity about the direction you want your project to head in.

If you want to go ahead, we’ll ask you to sign an Appointment Document.


We’ll get back onsite, survey the building and run searches to uncover any ownership issues as well as identify services coming in.  We find the more time we spend onsite initially, the better the outcome – it’s part of the process of learning about the building and it informs every aspect of our thinking about the project.

Developing the concept

We’ll begin to develop sketch drawings so you can start to see our thinking and we can begin the process of refining the brief. Once we reach a scheme that broadly aligns with your vision, we’ll be ready to begin discussions with the Planning Authority.

We’ll handle all your Planning headaches…

Once we’ve developed the sketch proposals into a more resolved building including plans, elevations, 3D images, we’ll take you through the designs until you’re completely happy. Then we’ll be ready to agree the Planning Strategy if planning permission is required. We’ll complete all plans and written statements necessary to make the Planning Application and, if necessary, a Listed Building Application. These will then be submitted to the Local Authority.

…and take care of the admin

Because we have experience of working within stringent local planning guidelines, we’re quite used to recognising the constraints imposed but working around them to come up with something unique and beautiful that will satisfy planning officers’ demands. When ready, if you want us to, we’ll make the planning application on your behalf, including pre-planning if we think it might be useful.

Depending on the complexity of the project, planning can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks. We would not normally continue with the detailed design while we wait for a response, but if you prefer that we do, that’s fine too.

Detailing the design

It may be that you only want us to help you get through the planning process, and that’s fine, but if you want our help for the next part, we’ll get on with the important job of fleshing out the detail.

Dotting the ‘I’s and crossing the ‘T’s

At this point we’ll create another layer of drawings, this time to show compliance with building regs. These can then be taken forward to form construction drawings. We’ll take you through these for sign off as we know such technical drawings can be a little overwhelming.

Offering help to tender for contractors...

If you need help to manage the contractor tender process we’ll be on hand, creating high quality tender and specification documents as we find this leads to far more accurate and better priced tenders. We’ll advise on well-renowned local contractors where necessary and we can analyse tender documents and make recommendations too, helping you to make the right decision for your individual situation by identifying differences in contractors’ skillsets that maybe beneficial to your project.

…and getting things off on the right foot

We’ll oversee your chosen contractor’s mobilisation process, ensuring they get organised, identify and source required materials and products and associated lead times. They will provide to us a detailed programme of activity as well as a procurement programme which we’ll be able to talk you through if necessary.

We could walk away at this point, but there are benefits in letting a firm of experienced architects like Apex administer the contract for you.

Getting it built

Sometimes clients decide they’d like to manage their building project themselves and that’s fine, we’ll happily hand over the documents and wish you well – although we do like to see some pictures once it’s finished.

Managing the contract

But there are some definite benefits to having us continue working for you in terms of better cost control, negotiating changes and identifying and managing potential claims.  We’ll also receive the programme and cash flow forecast and help you make any further design decisions and understand when you’ll become liable for payments.

Taking an independent view on quality

Our role of contract administrator is an impartial one. We’ll carry out regular site visits to check on progress and quality of work, evaluating the value of the work that has been done so that we can approve stage payments. After all, you don’t want to be in a situation where you’ve made a payment of more than the value of the building at that time.

What’s more, having an independent third party on board can help reduce stressful situations and allow you to maintain a friendly working relationship with your contractor, without having to have ‘difficult’ conversations. And if the worst happens and things go seriously wrong, you’ll be glad you have us on your side.

Tying up loose ends

At the end of the project we go through a rigorous handover process. We’ll check everything has been done in accordance with the spec and whether there are any defects that need remedying. Once these are rectified, we’ll issue a certificate of practical completion and get sign off from Building Regs as well as arranging gas and electrical safety testing and handing over the building maintenance manual. Finally, we will manage any contractual defects period and arrange inspections to check and rectify any issues with the original contractor.

Construction dispute resolution whenever you need it

Here at Apex we like to reassure our clients that we do everything in our power to prevent things going wrong. But during a complex building project the fact is that disputes with contractors and suppliers can occasionally occur.

And when they do? It can be hard to know how best to put them right. Particularly when high emotion is involved, relationships break down and costs appear to be spiralling out of control.

That’s why we work in association with Smart Arch, offering advice and guidance on a range of different options when it comes to construction dispute resolution.

Whichever side of the argument you’re on, experienced chartered arbitrator Chris Smart, and the team, will help to work out the facts of the situation, make sense of the law and help you to reach a fair resolution. So, you won’t be left out of pocket.