What are the stages of a building project?


Let's talk about the construction process.

What is the usual project trajectory?

A construction project can feel overwhelming and confusing, regardless of its size and purpose. The RIBA Plan of Work sets out a project plan in 7 stages, as described in detail here. For the sake of simplicity, some of the stages can be combined, and many projects run through fewer stages than seven. The main milestones outlined below are also the structure usually followed by most architects.

1. Design 

Any new build project requires design work.  Extending your property will inevitably affect the space configuration of the existing adjoining rooms or even the whole building.

It’s necessary to allow some time for the architect to think through on how to achieve the best use of space, as well as develop the design for the proposed exterior of the property. The proposed façade of the building will be essential to achieving planning permission. 

Architects usually present the design option as outline drawings and 3D visuals. At times it might be useful to create a physical scale model of the project to showcase the spatial qualities of the whole project. The timescale for the design work can vary from a week up to 3 weeks, depending on the size of the project.

2. Planning

 Once the design is approved by you, your architect will apply for planning. This could be a full planning application or a certificate of lawfulness, depending on the location of your property and local authority requirements. Your architect will know which application to make. 

To develop the plans and documents for planning submission architects usually need around a week or up to 10 days. 

The decision period for the council is 42 days for a certificate of lawfulness, and up to eight weeks for a full planning application. The planning officers can extend this period if they need any extra information. To avoid any delays, the architect should follow up with the case officers shortly after submission. In this case, any extra documents can be delivered within the initial timeframe.

3. Tender 

For the tender, the architect will develop a set of construction drawings and a written specification for the project. This work usually takes 1-2 weeks depending on the size of the building.

The architect will send the tender documents to a few construction companies to price the work. It’s best to tender with a maximum of three companies, as this will give you a good overview of the current market prices and a good number of options to choose from. The architect will also send the tender to the building control inspector for an initial check.

The priced tender documents usually come back after 14 days or three weeks for larger projects. The architect will then set up a cost comparison and will make a recommendation for a contractor to be appointed.

The architect will then assist you in signing the contract with the chosen construction company. For residential projects, this is usually a small or medium JCT contract

4. Construction

During construction work, the architect acts a contract administrator. This is also the preferred way to run design projects.

As a contract administrator, the architect will overview the progress of the work on site and coordinate with the other consultants and l produce regular evaluations and control the ongoing cost. If any extra technical details or drawings are necessary, the architect will deliver them to site. 

They will also make sure that your approved design is to be built and follows all necessary building regulations. A building control inspector will visit the site on a regular basis, and the architect will be in a close communication with them.

For residential projects, depending on the size, the work on site could take between 14 and 30 weeks. For some larger projects involving basement extensions, the timeframe could extend to up to 12 months.

5. Hand over

After completing the construction work, you will receive a building control certificate. The contract administrator will issue the certificate of practical completion and final evaluation.
After this, you can move into your property and enjoy the newly designed space. 

12th Street Loft, NYC, Courtesy of  Neil Logan Architect

12th Street Loft, NYC, Courtesy of Neil Logan Architect


If you have any questions or suggestions to this process, please let me know in the comments below.
I'd love to hear your ideas!