When we take potential clients through the time programme of the architectural process, we are often asked why it takes so long. As we noted in our recent article, The iron triangle, every project we undertake has “unique conditions that demand prototypical responses, the production of which cannot be achieved quickly. Making architecture is like investing all the research and development that goes into designing a new car, but then building it only once.”
This is the broad answer. More specifically, and to assist you in fleshing out your expectations of the architectural process, what follows is a description of the 7th and final of the seven key stages we undertake for each of our projects. An archive of all seven stages can be accessed here.
In this the final stage of a project, your house gets built. All the hours and weeks and months of design and documentation are rewarded by the wonderful experience of witnessing your dream home take shape. The responsibility for driving the project forward transfers from us to the builder. After all our hard work, this is a considerable relief.
The design and documentation process is not completely finished however. In addition to certifying payments, assessing variations, and responding to queries, we continue refining and improving your project. Unexpected problems arise on site, exciting opportunities present themselves, and mistakes are made. The builder might demolish a wall and discover a rotten section of ceiling that needs to be removed, covered or replaced; a specified tile, oven or tap may no longer be available; when the wall framing goes up we might discover an unanticipated but particularly beautiful view we want to capture. For all of these situations, we resolve detailed construction questions with the you and the builder on site and back in our studio.
The duration of this project stage is first and foremost dependent on the size of the project, and second on its complexity. While there is an economy of scale, more building typically means more time. Complexity requires higher levels of supervision and presents fewer opportunities for fast tracking. There is also a minimum time to construction. We have found that even the smallest construction projects, with barely 3 months of work to do, will take at least 6 months to complete.
In total, you can expect an architectural project to take a minimum of a year and a half from conception to completion. The maximum we’ve discussed here is 3 and a half years, though this is dependent on a number of potentially unquantifiable factors, including a drawn out town planning process and lengthy construction stage.
Stage duration = 6 – 18 months
Architect’s time = 200 – 600 hours
Specialist consultants = Structural engineer, building surveyor
Documents = Site details, progress payment certificates and variations
Scale of drawings = 1:10 – 1:5
Quantity = 40 – 120x A4 details depending on duration and complexity of project
- Disclaimer: time allowances are estimates only and will vary depending on project size and complexity.
- Construction. Author’s own image.
- Farmer House construction. Author’s own image, see here for further details.