Each and every project we undertake is approached with fresh enthusiasm. We love designing and aim to exceed our clients’ expectations. Helyer Davies Architects undertakes commissions ranging from contemporary installations to historic restorations and works closely with clients from inception to completion in order to ensure the best possible results.
We believe that good architecture is only created through a close dialogue between client and architect. We are committed to creating bespoke solutions that respond creatively to an individual project’s specific requirements.
We work hard to ensure our projects are consistently delivered on time and on budget. We also pride ourselves on our excellent client relationships, illustrated by our high percentage of repeat clients.
Our design process is methodical but instinctive, based on the RIBA Plan of Work:
[RIBA Stage 0 -1] Initial Meeting, Preparation of Brief and Survey
The purpose of an initial meeting is to meet you, view the site and to develop a brief to establish the basis of a project, outlining a wish list of needs and hopes, budget and timeframe. This meeting on site allows us to gain an understanding of the aspirations for the project, as well as a sense of the place and the opportunities it presents. This is also an opportunity for clients to put forward their ideas and inspiration for change. Alongside this, we should establish the need for other consultants, surveys required and how best to select your builder and obtain costs.
Following this initial meeting, we build a brief from your requirements and set out our fees based on the level of involvement we feel the job requires.
Once appointed, a measured survey needs to be undertaken to establish accurate plans of the property and site. Depending on complexity, this can either be undertaken by ourselves or by a specialist company.
[RIBA Stage 2] Concept Design
With the survey completed and taking into consideration planning constraints, we can then begin site analysis looking at views, light, access, environmental influences and setting. These factors are brought together with the project brief from which we produce an initial concept design illustrated with diagrams and sketch layouts to describe design influences, size and shape, materials, textures and colours.
These initial ideas are presented to yourselves and the design dialogue begins. Once the design meets your brief, then these proposals can be reviewed with local authority planners and cost guidance obtained in order to check the project’s feasibility.
[RIBA Stage 3] Developed Design / Planning
Having agreed the outline design, we then produce the required planning documents and drawings developed in sufficient detail to understand the spaces created and how they operate. In principle, we will agree choices of materials and external finishes, obtaining samples, perhaps illustrating spaces and views with models, sketch drawings and computer graphics. The design is then fixed, establishing the scheme to be built in the construction stage and documents produced for a planning application.
Taking a scheme to planning often requires supporting information such as a design statement, historic research and visual impact assessment. Further specialist reports may also be required from third parties, such as ecology or historic building advisors.
[RIBA Stage 4] Technical Design / Building Regulations
Other professionals, such as structural and services engineers, join the project at this stage. With their technical input, the scheme design can be developed for construction. This process begins with establishing targets for performance, methods of building and agreeing the best way to achieve results within your budget. From here, we generate detailed technical drawings showing how the built elements come together and what each part is made of, supported by written specifications and schedules of finishes and fixtures. Decisions will be made during this stage over where our client’s budget is invested, considering the quality of finishes against the priorities of space and hidden infrastructure such as drainage and electrical wiring.
Documents produced during this stage can be pulled together as a package which can be put out to Building Control for building regulation approval and contractors for pricing. We usually obtain three prices for comparison and provide our recommendation as to who will provide the service to best suit the project.
[RIBA Stage 5 - 6] Construction and Handover
During this exciting stage, what have been ideas on paper take shape in reality. Our main role at this stage is to administer the contract between yourselves and the contractor. This means we have an equal responsibility to our client and the contractor to ensure fairness on both sides and a smooth build process.
We will work together to answer any questions and solve design issues which might arise on site and chair regular progress meetings between the client and contractor, thereby keeping up to date with any changes which might result in differences to the project value or the timescale.
We like to use the 3D capabilities of the computer as a design tool rather than a presentation tool. Once the model is built we can set cameras up and view any perspective that we choose. This is particularly good to demonstrate a scheme to a client.
These are used to demonstrate schemes for planning where we are trying to demonstrate how well a scheme fits in with the surroundings. The soft hand crafted drawings seem to reassure concerned neighbours and planning committees.
2D Cad drawings are used to explain how our designs technically work. This can be to clients during the initial design stages or to contractors on site who need detailed information on how to physically construct the project.