FAQ's

Please take a look at our faqs / frequently asked questions which you may find useful.
If your query hasn’t been answered please fill out our CONTACT FORM.


+ Why should I use 3bd Archtiects?

Competent architects have the knowledge, experience and skill which will be invaluable to your project. You are not only paying for a printed ink plan and fancy 3D visualisations but the knowledge on how to physically build them using the most cost effective materials and techniques. 3bd Architects also know how to navigate the feasibility, planning, listed building, building regulations and construction contract administration processes.

+ Is 3bd good value for money?

Good design adds value. It is not easy putting an economic value on good architectural design because measuring design quality is difficult. Whether you are looking to build a new house, an extension or a major renovation, you have probably asked yourself whether an architect is worth the extra cost. Taking on construction is a huge investment and you want to be sure the money is spent where it matters. This is what 3bd specialises in. We have the skills, expertise and experience that translate into benefits such as:

  • Lower construction costs
  • Lower life-cycle costs
  • Improved quality of life/well-being
  • Improved efficiency, functionality & productivity
  • Higher market values, resale value & better investment

+ Your competitors are more expensive, why are you cheaper?

Traditional architects often use a percentage of the construction cost as their fee. This often results in a much larger fee as it’s not based on the amount of work they need to do. It’s the easiest method of fee calculation and, due to it’s often inflated size, allows them to be less efficient. 3bd itemises all the drawings, schedules and tasks we intend to undertake and applies the appropriate hourly rates to calculate the final fee.

+ Your competitors are cheaper, why are you more expensive?

Many of our competitors aren’t actually architects, they often use terms such as ‘architectural designer’ or ‘building designer’. Many don’t have the full breadth of professional training and experience or insurances we have. Some are one-man-bands who have very little overheads but also no backup in the event of illness. 3bd is a RIBA Chartered Practice with professional indemnity insurance and a team of individuals who can cover each other's projects in cases of illness, leave or other absence. Other architects don’t always include all the services we do, you should always get an itemised list from them to ensure you’re getting a comparable level of service, i.e. we usually offer electrical layouts, heating/plumbing/ventilation layouts and finishes/fittings schedule as part of our standard service. Many traditional architects only offer the general arrangement drawings for the builder and assume an M&E engineer, interior designer and project manager will be appointed to deal the other parts of the building or project.

+ Do you get involved with domestic extensions and alterations?

We do! We are best at designing bespoke and unusual solutions. Our level of service depends on how intricate the project is and how hands on you're likely to be. A specific breakdown tailored to your needs will be provided after our initial consultation but our services are typically broken down as per the questions below.

+ How do you calculate your fees for domestic extensions and alterations?

Our fees are based on the resource required to undertake the task, usually a fixed lump sum, and not cost percentages (unless stated otherwise).

FEASIBILITY APPRAISAL usually costs £500-2,000+VAT subject to size of development. For anything under 200sqm (2,000sqft), or involving a single dwelling, this stage is often not needed.

PLANNING DESIGN usually costs £2,000-6,000+VAT subject to design complexity and level of client involvement.

CONSTRUCTION DESIGN usually costs £4,000-10,000+VAT subject to complexity, level of client involvement and who is undertaking the construction works.

CONSTRUCTION ADMINISTRATION is usually time charged at £40/hour+VAT for architectural assistants and £60/hour+VAT for architects but can be a fixed lump sum if the scope of our service and the builder is known. A full service for this stage is usually £1,000-1,500+VAT per month of construction but is rarely needed. All Fees exclude VAT/TAXES and other specialist consultant fees. Please note that we shall not be held liable for any errors or omissions in the fee proposal. Any alterations to our appointment may incur additional costs.

+ What is included in your fees?

The fee proposal will list all services included in our fee. Reasonable and expected expenses are included in our fees, however, additional and unexpected services or requests beyond these, i.e. video fly through of the proposals, additional site visits, etc may incur additional fees. These additional fees will be agreed in writing prior to proceeding.

+ What is excluded in your fees?

It should be noted that our fees exclude the following:

  • Anything not listed in the fee proposal will be time-charged at our usual rates.
  • Specialist consultants fees such as structural engineer, arboriculturalist, land surveyor, etc.
  • Topographical surveys
  • Significant redesigns at the client’s request at a late stage of the design process. If this situation occurs we will inform you of the additional costs in writing prior to proceeding.
  • The purchase of third party documents e.g. historic maps, etc.
  • Local and other statutory authority application fees.
  • Construction valuations, costing advice or the collection of quotes from suppliers unless agreed otherwise.
  • The production of additional information requested by the local planning authority above and beyond the items listed at each stage. If this situation occurs we will inform you of the additional costs in writing prior to proceeding.

If instructed, we can act as ‘Principal Designer’ under Construction Design and Management (CDM) 2015.

+ How do we pay you?

All payments are to be paid direct to the 3bd LLP bank account via electronic transfer or via our online payment system. Invoices for fees and expenses are submitted monthly for payment by return. Interest at the rate of 5% above current Bank of England base rate will be charged on late payment.

+ How long does your fee proposal last for?

28 days, if after this period the proposal has not been accepted we reserve the right to review fees and services.

+ Is there anything you won’t do?

We reserve the right to terminate our services if instructions received from the client cannot be achieved without breaching our professional code of conduct or if instructions are to reduce the quality of design to an extent that would be below the standards permitted by the 3bd Partners. In the event of termination all costs incurred to date will be payable.

+ What will our initial consultation involve?

Usually a meeting at the property/site to discuss the general aspirations and spot any obvious concerns/show-stoppers. We will then provide a specific fee proposal itemising our suggested services based on the complexity of the project and the level of client involvement.

+ What do you do once the level of service and fees are agreed?

Usually our first task is a visual and measured survey of the building and/or site. Once drawings of the existing buildings/site are completed we prepare a design proposal based on your aspirations and our knowledge and experience. The first design proposal is often something the client hasn’t thought of or thought was not possible.

+ What is involved in the feasibility appraisal process?

To achieve a fully considered appraisal we usually complete an A4 report confirming:

  • Brief/client aspiration statement
  • Schedule of accommodation (approximate areas)
  • Adjacencies diagram showing how spaces need to be connected
  • Confirmation of site boundary
  • Budget based on a rule of thumb cost/sqm and areas
  • Procurement routes
  • Design and sustainability aspirations and examples of acceptable design styles
  • Confirmation of regulatory or statutory requirements
  • Programme and/or critical dates
  • Suggested next steps

Once initial designs are complete they are usually presented at a meeting where queries can be answered and additional explanations behind our thinking can be offered.

+ What is involved in the planning design process?

To achieve a fully considered planning stage design we would propose to complete the following (but not be limited to):

  • Preparation and submission of the project brief to yourself for approval. The brief will confirm the following:
    • Schedule of accommodation and adjacencies diagram (approximate areas)
    • Confirmation of site boundary
    • Budget project cost plan
    • Procurement route
    • Design and sustainability aspirations and examples of acceptable design styles
    • Confirmation of additional regulatory or statutory requirements
    • Programme and/or critical dates
  • Survey and report of existing (site or buildings)
  • Production of existing and proposed drawings:
    • Site location plan
    • Site plans
    • Internal floor and roof plans
    • Section(s)
    • Elevations
  • Production of 3D digital and/or physical information including:
    • 3D Digital Model(s) and/or 3D Physical Model(s)
    • Visualisations External
    • Visualisations Internal
    • 360º Panorama
    • Virtual Tours
    • 3D Animation & Fly-through
  • Design & Access Statement
  • Heritage Statement
  • Sustainability statement
  • Planning and/or Listed Building application forms
  • Managing the application process and responding to Planning Authority queries
  • Guidance and recommendations in the appointment of other consultants where necessary, e.g. surveyors, engineers, etc.
  • Coordination of other consultants including:
    • Attending meetings
    • Preparation of meeting agendas and minutes
    • Chairing of meetings.

+ What is involved in the construction design process?

To achieve a fully considered detailed design we usually propose to complete the following:

  • Guidance and recommendations in the appointment of other consultants where necessary, e.g. surveyors, engineers, etc.
  • Coordination of other consultants including:
    • Preparation of meeting agendas and minutes.
    • Chairing of meetings.
  • A package of coordinated information to include:
    • Site plan indicating any landscaping and external works e.g. driveways, paths, planting, building location, indicative drainage layouts, indicative services layouts, etc.
    • Floor and roof general arrangement plans.
    • Elevations.
    • 1:20 Sections at critical locations.
    • Building setting out plans, including wall and opening locations, drainage pop-up locations, movement joints, etc.
    • Window schedule, including elevations, sizes, ironmongery, openings, etc.
    • Door schedule, including elevations, sizes, ironmongery, architrave and skirting profiles, etc.
    • Room data sheets, each room plan and wall elevations drawn at 1:20 indicating all finishes, electric/gas/water locations, fixed fittings, etc.
    • Construction details (1:5 details), including wall/floor/roof junctions, stairs, window and door heads, jambs and sills, fixtures, etc.
    • Finishes schedule.
    • Fittings, luminaires and sanitaryware schedules.
    • Schedule of Works for itemised pricing.
    • Small power plan/indicative electrics layout, including electrical outlets, data points, phone points, light fittings, light switches, distribution boards, fire detection, etc.*
    • Heating/water plans, including underfloor heating manifolds, pipe runs, hot/cold water supplies, outlets, ventilation, etc.*
    • Drainage plans including septic tank, below ground, above ground, rainwater, etc.*
    • It should be noted that 3bd are unable to provided specifications for the incoming services, plumbing, electrical or drainage systems beyond the approximate locations of outlets and supplies.
  • Recommendation of construction contract.
  • Preparation of contractor shortlist for tendering.
    • Due diligence checks on the tendering contractors remains the clients responsibility.
  • Collation and distribution of documents, including other consultants drawings, to tendering contractors.
  • Preparation of a post tender report and recommendation.

+ What is involved in the Contract Administration and Construction Inspections process?

3bd can act as construction contract administrator until the final certificate is released at the end of the defects period. During this period we would provide the following services:

  • Purchase and completion of the necessary printed contracts; limited to a single copy per party.
  • Attend (fortnightly/monthly) site meetings to inspect and review construction progress including:
    • Preparation of meeting agendas and minutes.
    • Chairing of meetings.
    • Inspection reports
  • Attend site at critical points in the construction to inspect works prior to closing in.
  • Review and comment on fabrication drawings.
  • Provide responses or clarification to construction queries.
  • Issue contract variation instructions. Valuations of works for staged payments. Issue construction contract certificates i.e. interim, completion and final

+ How long does it take to prepare feasibility, planning or construction drawings?

FEASIBILITY DESIGN can usually be completed within 2-4 weeks subject to client and consultant feedback and project type.

PLANNING DESIGN can usually be completed within 4-8 weeks subject to client and consultant feedback and project type.

CONSTRUCTION DESIGN can usually be completed within 6-8 weeks subject to client and consultant feedback and project type. We can provide feedback and updates on progress upon request at any stage.

+ Are you insured?

We maintain Professional Indemnity insurance sufficient to cover all projects we are appointed to; a copy of insurance certificate is available on request.

+ How far would you travel for work?

We are willing to travel to any part of the world. We have been involved with projects across the UK, in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Zambia. For projects outside the U.K. please see our conditions for working abroad below.

+ Do your prices change for projects overseas?

Our international projects follow the same guidelines as UK projects however there are additional charges that will be included into our fee proposal. Our fees for working on projects outside the UK will increase to include:

  • 1 hour consultation 'call out' fee $150 (refunded if appointed)
  • Travel expenses & insurances
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Transport (ground/air - to and from site)
  • Visa/work permit
  • Office space (80sqm) including internet connection (20Mb min.), toilets and kitchenette - if required
  • Computers and printers (quantity and specification requirements TBC) - if required

Due to the legal difficulties in fee recovery and our experience with overseas clients we would require payment in advance to be held on account unless you are our formal, UK based, client.

+ What do I have to do as client?

As client you are responsible for:

  • Advise on the priorities of your requirements/aspirations and to provide necessary and accurate information when requested.
  • Appointing all consultants and specialists required under separate agreements (unless stated otherwise), we will help but the legal connection will be direct from yourself to them.
  • Comply with the CDM Regulations where applicable.
  • Take decisions and respond promptly to requests for approval.
  • Pay fees, expenses and disbursements due and taxes (VAT).
  • Appoint a construction Contractor or construction Manager

+ What do I need to consider if I want to self build?

We can assist you, as architects, in helping you achieve the perfect home suited to your specific needs. Our advice can cover the whole process from funding to furniture and are usually determined by how hands-on you want to be.

+ We’ve not done this type of thing before, how do you help?

It is our role as architects, to interpret your needs/aspirations and transform them into a finished product. During this task, we help our clients:

  • Understand what they’re trying to achieve and the options available.
  • Understand the legal obligations and statutory consents i.e. Planning, Building Regulations, H&S, Party Wall etc.
  • Understand the terms of the agreements between them and other team members such as engineers, surveyors, Contractors etc.

+ Do I need planning permission and how long does it take?

If your proposals are not classified as Permitted Development you will need to apply for Planning Consent. A planning application will need to include location maps, drawings of your property in context, existing and proposed plans and elevations and a design and access statement. In special cases other reports are needed such as Heritage Statements, Energy Assessments, Noise Assessments, etc. This can take 4-8 weeks to prepare then the submission needs to be validated and processed. If all goes well consent is usually issued 7-10 weeks after submission.

If your proposal is in a conservation area and/or the building that requires renovation is listed then you will need to apply for Conservation Area consent and/or Listed Building consent. The application will need to include all the same information as a Full application plus Heritage Statements and assessments. If all goes well consent is usually issued 7-10 weeks after submission.

+ What is the Party Wall Act?

If your building works are in close proximity to neighbouring property boundaries, you may be required to act under the Party Wall etc Act 1996. The first step required to satisfy the Act is to serve a notice award to your neighbour. We can do this for you and no further action may be required. In some instances full Party Wall awards will be required, we can advise you on the appointment of a suitable surveyor in this event.

+ How much do I have to pay for planning permission?

The Local Planning Authority charge a submission fee, usually £385 per new dwelling or £175 for alterations to an existing dwelling, Listed Building submissions are free. In addition to this you will need to pay for the preparation of drawings, statements and any other report, this is where we help.

+ Will we need to pay any other professional consultant fees?

You would usually need to pay for at least two other consultants, a structural engineer and a building inspector. We usually make recommendations for consultants we have successfully worked with previously and can provide an outline of the services required from them if necessary.