“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." Matthew 7:24

During this step, you will be working through the developed design with your consultants as well as working through the technical design.  This is also an opportunity to firm up on your design team and clarify all costs going forward now that you have a selected design.  This is the second gateway decision point before commencing work on the final design.  

When liaising with architects and consultants, it may be useful to be aware that these steps sit within the RIBA work stages, these are Stage 3 and Stage 4. 

  • Stage 3 – Developed Design:
    The design is developed further and formal applications are submitted to statutory authorities for planning permission, and Section 98 approval if a listed building (See Listed Building and Conservation Pathway for more information).
  • Stage 4 – Technical Design:
    At this stage all members of the design team co-ordinate design information to a detailed level in order to get approvals such as building regulations approval. The documents are prepared in order to obtain tenders and contractors competitively price the works.

The architects will further develop the design and produce a set of detailed drawings, specification of materials and a schedule of works for pricing. This is sometimes referred to as the Design Stage documentation. Ensure there is a one-page summary of the project included, it will be useful as part of your application for consent and later on for funding applications.

If the project involves major building works, it is helpful to ask your architects to prepare suitable 3-D communications to help people understand the overall design.  Various media are now available and can include, physical scaled models, 3-D computer models, flythrough or individual rendered images.  Your architects will be able to advise you.

It is useful to remain in communication with your architect and design team during this stage of the project’s development.  Ongoing dialogue ensures that the architect can ask more questions and discuss ideas with you. Even after you have received the final details, there may well need to be further discussions with the architect before you agree on a final version. It is crucial that all members of your group fully understand the proposals and are happy with the design.

Here are 3 things that you should expect from your architect and what your architect expects from you.

  • Maintain Client Ownership
    Ultimately, this project is to turn the church’s vision into reality and it will be the church’s responsibility for the future of the building. The Design Team needs to ensure full engagement with you throughout every part of the process, the decisions on strategy, detail and choice of materials and in the appraisal of the options available.
  • Carefully Manage Design Change
    Change will always happen during the design stages and can even occur when work is on site. You need to ensure there is a system in place for the signing off of each stage of the design work by you, so it is clear that when you ask for changes or they are needed for other reasons, what the reason is for that change and what the implications are, both for the design and in terms of cost. When changes occur, it is important not to lose sight of the initial goals and targets of the project, particularly if changes accumulate. You will need to have a clear system of decision making and sign off in place.
  • Agree and Maintain a Programme
    Stick to it, use it to guide everyone and to focus your fundraising and ensure your Architect establishes a regular pattern of meetings and there is clear communication between you and the Design Team.

There are 3 supplementary pathways that may be relevant for the project and each pathway incorporate specific links, guidance and considerations for these types of projects.  The pathways are designed to be worked through methodically and and have been divided into bitesize steps.  Thus, it is recommended that with this step, you begin with Step 6 of the core pathway followed by Step 6 of a supplementary pathway, as dictated by the parameters of the project.  

Click below to view the supplementary guidance for Step 6 of each pathway.  

Step 6 Conservation & Listed Pathway

Step 6 Net Zero Carbon Pathway

Step 6 Partnerships Pathway  

Click here to move back to Step 5 

Click here to move forward to Step 7 

1. Building the Wider Design Team

Once you’ve appointed your Architect (please refer to Step 3) you need to appoint the rest of the Design Team as applicable in relation to the size of the project. Knowing who is who and when you need to make these appointments is important and your Architect will take the lead on this. Please contact TMCP about professional appointments in order to check parties and limited liability.  As well, you may wish to instruct a solicitor to ensure appointments are in the best interest of the church. Click here to view the panel of solicitors. 

The Principal Designer (CDM Co-ordinator prior to April 2015) deals with Health and Safety compliance during design development, and ensuring that it meets these obligation one it is complete and in operation. The main contractor is responsible for health and safety during the construction phase. As the client, you have clearly set out responsibilities under the Construction Design and Management legislation, and the Principal Designer helps you fulfil these responsibilities. The appointment should be made as soon as practical after the feasibility stage for any project. However, in most cases this role is carried out by the architect.

A Quantity Surveyor (QS) can be an important part of the team informing you and supporting you with the financial management of the project. As a minimum, have an initial budget prepared on the basis of outline designs, and then refine this as more information becomes available. It is much better to invest in this information at an early stage than to have a nasty shock with costs further down the line. A QS can also provide a full service with regular cost updates and prepare a ‘Bill of Quantities’ at tender stage, which describes the works in full financial detail for each tenderer to price against.

The Services (or Mechanical & Electrical) Engineer designs the services for the building.  These can include items such as heating, ventilation, above ground drainage and electrical systems.  Some practices can also provide important input into designing systems for renewable energy installations and other aspects of reducing the carbon footprint of the building.  Depending upon the complexity of the project, it can be helpful to get their input right from the start to feed into the feasibility design as services can have a big impact on how design is developed and overall costs.

The Structural Engineer designs the structural elements, the beams and columns, foundations, and often the underground drainage. If the design of the building is significantly affected by the structure (e.g. a particular design for the support of the roof) then the Structural Engineer should be involved in the early stages of design development; if not, then this appointment could follow planning permission.

The Building Inspector role was previously only carried out by the Local Authority Building Control Department; now you can choose to appoint an Approved Inspector, which is simply a private alternative. Generally speaking the costs are similar. Whoever you use, it is important that there is a good level of understanding with the design team.

Those are the key Design Team members but there are other specialists who may need to be involved:

  • Party Wall Surveyor. If you are building close to a boundary, or the foundations are within 3m of a neighbour’s foundations you’re likely to need a Party Wall Surveyor after planning permission has been granted.
  • Acoustic Engineer may be needed where, for example, a new worship space is to be created, or if there is concern about noise pollution. This specialist input is beyond some Services Engineers remit. This input can be really helpful in the early stages of design development, when the form of the building is more fluid.
  • Audio Visual Engineer is only likely to be needed if multi-media is an important part of how your church works; basic AV work can be specified by the Services Engineer, or indeed from expertise within the church community.
  • Lighting Designer may be needed if there are very specific issues about the lighting, or if there is a need to create a particular effect. Otherwise your Services Engineer should be able to fulfil this role.
  • Kitchen Designer may be able to provide valuable input if you are including anything more than domestic level catering – for example a large cafe or a commercial kitchen and there is a need to comply with Environmental Health requirements and substantial ventilation equipment. This input would be needed prior to any planning application if the equipment will have an impact on the exterior of the building.
  • Access Consultants
  • Environmental consultant

Value engineering may be of use if you have gone out to tender and the project budget is too high.  The church, contractor and design team would need to work together to bring cost down and value engineer can help to reduce the costs.

2. Project Management Role

In the majority of cases, the architect will be the project manager in respect of managing and co-ordinating the building works programme and all the people who need to be involved. Project management is a role that architects have traditionally undertaken.

A good project manager will ensure the successful delivery of the overall building project and will help you monitor risk, establish and monitor the programme and respond to the challenges that arise. If your project is in the region of several million pounds of construction, it may be a good idea to consider a Project Manager as a separate professional appointment to take on the role of client representative and be the key person between the design team and the church. If you do decide to appoint your own separate project manager, make sure the chain of command and who has responsibility for different parts of the project is made clear and understood by all parties. Think carefully about who in your Group has responsibility for making decisions while building work is being carried out, and how the Group will liaise with the project manager.

3. Choosing the Right Contractor

Getting the right contractor will have a huge impact on both the quality of your completed project and on your experience of getting there. Good procurement is part of good stewardship. Making good use of the resources at our disposal is an essential part of being good stewards.

The first key step is about defining what you need. Shortlisting for the appointment of a contractor, this will be a formal process managed by your architect as project lead, against an ITT (invitation to tender) and detailed works specification. A minimum of 3 quotes from different contractors is recommended.  Contractors price work based on the degree of risk they are taking on. It follows that you are more likely to get competitive and keen tender prices if at the tender stage, the information you provide is as clear and detailed as it can possibly can be propionate to the size of the project.  Typically, tender information could include detailed drawings, specifications and Bills of Quantities.  

The builder is usually chosen in competitive tender from a list agreed between the architect and the client. The builder isn’t normally thought of as part of the design team, but if they are chosen earlier on in the process they can make a significant contribution to the team by bringing their construction knowledge and buildability expertise to the process. There are pros and cons for this early appointment, but it is worth considering.

During building works, there is sometimes a need for the church to consider their buildings and public liability insurance during the works.  Please consult with your insurer about this well in advance of works commencing.

Check with TMCP and District Policy Committee about having public liability cover in as well as any other insurance requirements so that these can be included in the tender enquiry documents issued to potential contractors for pricing.  Contractors will also have an obligation to have insurance to cover the work in progress and any risks to the public, this can vary in the amount of cover and the level should be requested during the tender stage advised by your architect or QS depending upon the size of the project.

4. Tendering

When tendering for contractors, your architect will take the lead in this process to suit the scale of the project.  But bear in mind that managing trustees do need to understand the process as the final building contract is between the managing trustee body and the contractors (not the design team, TMCP or any other party). To ensure you end up with the right contractor, the architect will:

  • Draw up the tender list carefully and only put on the list those he/she might want to work with.

  • Look Carefully at the relevant skills on offer. It is not essential that the builder has done projects before in the church sector, and sometimes a good tender price can be achieved from a contractor who has all the right skills and is eager to get into church work. What is important, however, is that the contractor can demonstrate a command of the relevant issues and skills. For example, alterations to a listed church should not be entrusted to a contractor who only has experience of new build, and a builder who builds the occasional house will not be right for a substantial new building.

  • Ask about the Balance between directly employed staff (‘on the books’) and subcontractors. Knowing which trades a builder has in-house can be revealing – do they for example have their own plasterers, or stone masons. There is no one right answer to this; many builders produce great buildings using a lot of subcontracted labour, but that will depend on the quality of the relationships between the parties, and will have a big impact on the finished product.

  • Take Personal Recommendations and local reputations into account. The architect will want to know whether the builder has previous clients who are willing to speak honestly about their experience of working with them. In particular they will want to know how proactively any unforeseen problems were addressed and dealt with. For example, if a project gets behind programme, how good were the contractors about making up the time?

  • Look at their Previous Projects. Aside from some builders being more suited to, say, new build as against conservation work, most builders will do most of their work within a range of contract sizes. Below that size and they are unlikely to be as cost-effective as a smaller firm carrying less overhead; above that size and they may struggle with managing the logistics of a larger project. The architect may ask about the contract value of their three largest projects to date, and how often they do projects of this size. And besides that, one needs to look at the complexity of a project – a smaller project on a tighter site may well be more demanding than a larger project on an open site. It’s a question of horses for courses.

  • Make Sure that those who will actually be doing the work come to the interview ie: not the ‘sales manager’ whom you will never see again. Even if it is the same building firm that comes with positive references from another project, ask whether the same team that did that project would be involved in yours.

  • Run Financial Checks. The cost to the client of their contractor going bust during a building project can be very significant, so before appointing a contractor it is well worth running some financial checks. If the firm is a limited company, then its accounts should be available from Companies House, though this will be old information. You can also glean useful information on the directors and the company structure – for example a director with a history of starting and closing down companies may be a warning sign. It is also wise to ask for a Banker’s Reference, which should show the extent of the firm’s liquidity and whether they have adequate room for financial manoeuvre. Your architect will be able to advise you if a bond is necessary for the size of your contract.

  • Visit One of their Previous Projects. There is no substitute for seeing the quality of a completed project by a shortlisted builder, so you may have the opportunity to visit one or more. Even if it is the same building firm, your architect will want to ask whether the same team of people that did that project would be involved in yours. Was the project delivered to time and to budget, or if not what were the good reasons?

  • Find Out if they are Good Organisers? From a client’s point of view this can have a big impact on the building process. In particular, your architect will want to be able to see evidence of attention to detail, and the ability to produce an intelligent project programme (in the form of a GANTT chart, with a critical path) is an important indicator.

  • Agree a clear set of criteria against which they are going to select the contractor.

  • Ensure that key members of your Group attend the interview – you will all be working with these people.
5. Building Contracts

There are a number of different types of building contract.  Within any contract, it is important to ensure that parties are correctly described, that the price is fixed and limit liability as much as possible. Please get in touch with TMCP to review contracts.  

Traditional Contracts

‘Traditional’ contracts assume that the client (i.e. managing trustees), through the design team, will decide all the details of the project and describe this to a number of builders, who will each give a price. In this case the pricing of the building work takes place at the end of Stage 4 Technical Design.

But there are other means of buying building work in which the choice of builder is made earlier in the process before the design is fully described – anywhere between Concept and Technical Design.

Design and Build

One alternative form is ‘Design and Build’, in which the builder is appointed after Developed design and they take responsibility for working up the detail of the project, often with the same design team that was already involved. This has the advantage of earlier cost certainty; the disadvantage is that it can result in the ‘dumbing down’ of the design. However, this is unlikely to be the form of contract for a project involving re-ordering in a heritage building.

Two Stage Tender

Another option is a ‘Two Stage Tender’ in which a builder is chosen earlier on, on the basis of preliminary information and a series of agreed rates and the price for the works is progressively negotiated. This is particularly good where project timescales are tight as construction can begin before the design is fully described. There are variations on each of these. Which one is right for you will depend on the nature of your project, but it is good to discuss this with the design team from the outset.

6. Final Costings
  1. Once all the tenders have come in, you can then update your final costings on the project plan and the Consents website.  Track any extra expenditures & keep the project budget up to date.

  2. Please refer to the guidance in Step 5 about what documents funders will expect.  Be sure to communicate final costs to the grant funders with whom you have any provisional agreements.  

7. Consents

The final project plan, signed-off drawings and any professional documents should be uploaded to the Consents website.   For assistance, you might want to look at the Consent Guide and FAQ’s.  Final Consent is given by District when planning & sufficient funding are in place and no work on the property can take place until final consent is given.  The District Property Secretary will add approval to the site. Please note that no work should begin on the property until final consent has been given.  

8. Building Regulations

Building Regulations

Your architect and the design team will also ensure that Building Regulations are complied with. Any building project to create something new or to alter or extend an existing building will usually need to comply with Building Regulations that are national building standards for England and Wales. They ensure that the building has adequate access and facilities are provided for people with disabilities and include requirements for conservation of fuel and power, ventilation and fire safety. There are also procedures that need to be followed and notifications given to the local authority before, during and on completion of the project to comply with regulations.

Although managing trustees will not need to manage this aspect of the build, it is useful to aware of it and to be on the look out for paperwork to keep in a project file.