FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is unique about DLSS Architects design process?


DLSS Architects have over a decade experience of delivering domestic and residential builds within West Midlands and throughout the UK.

Each project is unique taking into consideration the site context, the views, the orientation and our client’s aspirations. We commence each project to initially understand and analyse the objective and vision of our client’s requirements and aspirations. We immerse ourselves in their lifestyle and transform this into an architectural understanding designed to suit their requirements. This is done through architectural workshops and design meetings which provide our clients with the level of interaction to ensure they are happy with the proposals.

We have the experience, strategy and ability to ensure a smooth and supported project from beginning to end.




What is DLSS Architects approach to sustainable design?


Our holistic approach to sustainable design starts with all aspects of the design; from careful consideration of the building position on the site through to the technical specifications of the type of heating used. Our objective is to deliver buildings which are warm, well ventilated, creating spaces with ample of natural light and essentially creating an energy-efficient building.




Which additional consultants are required for my project?


In order to ensure the project is coordinated and a successful delivery, appointing a suitable and competent professional team is fundamental. We advise our clients at the appropriate time about such appointments and their related fees.

The majority of projects will require a Structural Engineer, a Quantity Surveyor for cost control and an Approved Inspector to ensure statutory compliance with Building Regulations. There may also be a requirement for the services of additional consultants depending on the scale and complexity of the project. These may include Planning, Heritage, Ecologist, Landscape Designer, and Mechanical & Electrical Engineer. At the appropriate stage, we will discuss these options with our clients to obtain quotes for these additional consultants for consideration.




What is DLSS Architects approach to planning?


For each unique project, we research on policies, planning history and local context to identify the opportunities and constraints for each site. We liaise with the planners at an early stage and depending on the scale and complexity of the project, advise most of our clients to seek pre-planning advice prior to submission of a full planning submission. Through careful consultation and a collaborative approach with the planning officers, DLSS Architects’ methodology ensure an increased chance for securing planning permissions and achieving the desired outcome.




How long will it take for a planning application decision?


Most applications for residential projects are decided within eight weeks unless they are unusually large or complex, in which case the time limit is extended to 13 weeks. If the authority cannot decide the application within the time period, the council should obtain your written consent to extend the period. In some cases, the council may ask us as the client’s agent for an extension of time.




What is pre-planning and is a pre-application required for my project?


Once we have an agreed concept design for the project, we would advise if we recommend obtaining pre-planning application advice or proceeding directly for a full planning application submission.

Whilst pre-planning advice cannot guarantee that a planning application will be approved, our experience shows that planning officers normally acknowledge projects better when consulted and collaborated with. In addition, this process can verify the list of local requirements each planning authority can require and reduce the likelihood of submitting invalid applications.




What is Building Control and is it required for my project?


In summary building control is the means by which Local Authorities enforce compliance with current Building Regulations to ensure minimum standards for design, construction and alterations. There are two main ways to seeking the required advice and certification for the project; via the Local Council’s Building Control Department or via an Approved Inspector to ensure that the project meets current Building Regulations. Building Control is required for almost all projects and only minor renovation works may be exempt.




What is the cost of building an extension?


Depending on the level of specification, we would currently advise allowing between £1,500 and £2,500 per square metre for rear extensions, front or side extensions.

Depending on scale and complexity, when it comes to roof conversions or extensions, our experience shows that it is better to allow a lump sum typically ranging from £30,000-£60,000 for loft conversions with dormer windows and between £80,000 and £120,000 for mansard roof extensions.

These are based on averages from experience on similar projects. These are rough indicative costs during the early stages of the design but we would always advise the input of a Quantity Surveyor during the early stages of a project to evaluate the potential costs of the designed proposals and to ensure these are achievable for the budget available. A number of factors will determine the actual cost for your project, including the scale and complexity of the design, level of structural elements required, and selection of fixtures, fittings and material finishes.

DLSS Architects work closely with the clients in an interactive process to optimise budget and brief to ensure what works best. The estimated costs per square metre mentioned above are for the build costs only and exclude VAT and professional fees.




What is the cost of an internal refurbishment?


We would currently advise allowing between £1,500 and £2,500 per square metre for areas which will undergo an extensive renovation. This includes if the planned works have substantial changes to layouts, significant structural works, re-plumbing, re-wiring and full redecoration.

For areas of lighter internal renovation which do not require significant changes to layout or significant structural works but do require full re-plumbing, re-wiring and redecoration- we recommend allowing between £1,500 and £2,000 as an estimated cost per square metre, we designate these areas as requiring medium renovation.

If there areas in your project which only call for a light renovation such as re-plastering, and painting, installing new floor finishes and light modifications of electrics and plumbing fittings, we will designate these as areas of light renovation and recommend that you allow £1,000-£1,500 per square metre or even as low as between £1,000 per square metre if you only have light touches in mind.

The real cost for your project will depend on a number of variables including the complexity of the design, extent of structural works and specification of fixtures, fittings and material finishes. These estimated costs per square metre are for the build cost excluding VAT and professional fees.




What is the cost of building a new house?


For new build house, we recommend allowing between £1,750 and £3,000 per square metre. We note this is a wide range but as soon as we have established a few fundamental requirements and aspirations from the client, we can provide a more accurate cost estimate to match their requirements. Some key elements include: floor area, construction method, level of finish for fixtures, fittings and material finishes.




What is the fee structure used by DLSS Architects?


The fee structure will depend on the scale and complexity of the project as well as the scope required for DLSS Architects. The majority of the projects we undertake are projects which provide full architectural services from inception through to completion covering the standard scope of RIBA services and work stages. For these full projects our competitive fees will be calculated on the basis of the final cost of the building works exclusive of VAT and professional fees. We calculate our fees based on the latest construction cost estimates available until the final cost of the building works has been ascertained. Our fees will be adjusted to reflect any increase in budget and scope of the project, and forward only (due to work already completed) to reflect any decrease in budget/scope. During early stages, our fees will be calculated based on the Architects Fees tool and once available, on estimates by the appointed Quantity Surveyor, followed by actual prices of returned tenders and finally, the contract sum reflecting any changes during construction.

We may also agree with the client to take on projects only up to a particular stage, for example up to planning or sometimes from another stage if we are taking over from another Architect. For these projects, we will normally put forward a simple fixed lump sum proposal.




How do you control budgets?


Issues arise when designs proceed without real assessment of the budget. DLSS Architects help our clients create realistic design proposals relative to the budget and work closely with them throughout the design process insuring they make informed decisions on their brief and design.




How do you select the right contractor or builder for the job


We have a list of contractors and builders of various sizes and specialities who we have worked with and trust to execute our designs. To select the appropriate contractor or builder for the project, a tender process with three or four contractors all pricing from a comprehensive set of tender documents is arranged.





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DLSS Architects  I  55 Little Sutton Road, Sutton Coldfield, B75 6QJ