Frequently asked Questions
Frequently asked questions
Is a ‘designer’ the same as an 'architect', or is this something different? Does my ‘designer’ have to be a member of a particular body or association? I don’t really know anyone, so is CIAT or RIBA the best/only real place to go?
Architects are required by law to register with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) where you can find more details on how ARB regulate architects and protect consumers. Chartered Architectural Technologists are registered and regulated through CIAT where again you can find more details.
Selecting via an appropriate professional body is a good place to start and this can be supplemented by talking to people you know who have employed a designer on similar work and are prepared to recommend them.
What questions should I be asking the designer in the first place? How should I compare to find the best one for me – based on which criteria?
Firstly prepare yourself by being able to clearly state what your business need is to be satisfied.
Make a point of looking at these guides to understand the roles of Client, Principal Designer and Principal Contractor:
You have a duty to ensure you employ a designer with the skills, experience and knowledge to carry out your design work, so ask them about similar work they have done before.
Reading the above guides will equip you to ask relevant questions which you can apply to your project. You also need to be comfortable in your mind about working relationships both with you and your chosen contractor when the time comes.
The guide documents above will also make you aware of information you need to share with your designer about your existing premises if appropriate.
How will I know if I am getting a good/fair price from my designer?
In terms of costs, this survey of fees from the Architects Journal provides some useful information about their charges. They are expressed in percentage terms and remember, no two projects are identical and the service undertaken varies considerably, but it will give you a basis for discussion to enable the designer to explain the fee levels.
You also have the option of seeking an alternative quote/s, but do make sure you are comparing like with like.
In general, you will need to give them as much information as possible about your project so that they can explain how they can help you. It’s pertinent to ask them about their experience on other projects, examples of their work, and their approach to health and safety is a key one, particularly if the work is to be carried out in occupied premises.
Once I have picked my designer, whose job is it to develop the brief – do they do this based on what I tell them I want?
The RIBA Plan of Work organises the process of briefing, designing, constructing and operating building projects into eight stages and details the tasks and outputs required at each stage.
This should explain the process, and how it all works. On simpler smaller projects apply the intent of the RIBA Plan of Works. Essentially the designer will develop the brief with you and you will be asked to sign it off.
Follow this link to an architectural practice that explains in more detail how they work with clients through the eight RIBA Plan of Work stages.
Once the brief is developed, do I need to look at planning? Who does this, me or the designer?
Your designer will discuss the planning application with you at the outset and will guide you through what is required and who will do what.
If I think there will just be one designer and one builder, do I still have to appoint a principal designer?
If you will have more than one contractor i.e. your builder employs sub-contractors (and it’s likely they will) you will need a principal designer and you need to appoint your designer as such.
At what point do I need to submit an F10 to the HSE? What happens if we don’t think we need this from the start (based on the number of workers etc) – but then it turns out further down the line that we do
The F10 form should be submitted prior to work commencing on site. Your designer can submit it on your behalf, but you must agree to this in writing that he is acting on your behalf.
If the F10 is not submitted, but the Client later becomes aware at that the threshold is likely to be exceeded once on site, the F10 should be submitted at that pointonline.
If I submit an F10, do I have to let the HSE know once the work has been completed?
There is no requirement or expectation that HSE should be informed on completion of work. Changes of information required will be changes in PD or PC and significant changes in start date or duration, or details of any contractors submitted.Your designer will be able to help you with this.
When I am comparing builder quotes to select the best one for me, is there a checklist I can refer to which shows the things I should look for, in particular their approach to health and safety?
Your designer can assist you with this and is covered under stage 5 of the RIBA Plan of work if you opt for this service.
You can check if the contractors you are considering are registered with Safety Schemes in Procurement member schemes SSIP.
How do I find out about the hazardous materials which may be present (eg asbestos) as mentioned in the HSE information? Or is it down to the contractor to look for that and make sure this is done properly?
Your designer will assist with this, including the need for a survey, which will need to be issued to those bidding for the construction work. The use of asbestos was only banned in 1999, so there are quite a number of buildings potentially containing or contaminated with it.
If, once the building work commences, I have concerns about the health and safety (dust, for example), but the contractor assures me it’s under control, what more can I do?
If you see dust or other hazards then you should persist and speak to the contractor – it’s best to address these concerns as they occur – or ask your designer to speak with them.
If you have serious concerns which you don’t feel they are addressing, you can instruct them to stop work until you are comfortable that it’s safe to do so.
You can also contact the HSE to report any issues, if you think they are not complying with their legal requirements.
What do have to do at the end of the project – I understand there should be a health and safety file – what do I need to do with this? How long do I need to keep it?
Stages 6 & 7 of the RIBA Plan of Work cover ‘handover and close out’ and ‘in use’
Your principal designer is responsible for the H&S file and will hand over the completed document to you upon completion. The H&S file must be kept by you as it will help you to manage and maintain your premises safely and you should make it available should you consider further work to develop or maintain your premises.
What about fire safety to get the building operational – what do I need to have in place?
Read and discuss both of these guides and discuss with your principal designer and principal contractor.
If I have a particular concerns about the designer or contractor, is there anywhere I can feed that back?
Endeavour to have open and frank discussions as your projects evolves to resolve any areas of concern. If that fails, go back to the relevant professional body as they will have their own codes of conduct and dispute resolution regimes.
What are my responsibilities regarding the welfare for workers – in terms of providing places for them to eat, toilet facilities and so on?
The HSE simply state:
“The law says that clients and contractors have responsibilities regarding welfare facilities on construction projects.
Contractors provide welfare facilities and clients must ensure this happens.
The pre-construction information prepared by the client should include the arrangements for welfare provision. On notifiable projects (longer than 30 days or 500 person days), the client must ensure the construction phase does not start unless they are satisfied that there are arrangements for welfare facilities to be provided."
How do I need to consider neighbours/parking around my building, whilst my building work is going on?
There are risks and other considerations to take into account and manage before work starts on site. The client is required to ensure that a Construction Phase Plan (CPP) is in place prior to work commencing and this will give the ability to take account and manage any areas the construction process may impact upon. Read this HSE guide on CPPs for further information.
Your designer should also take account of the proximity of your premises and any risks associated when making design decisions.