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Jonathan Holland Architects undertake the design work in stages which follow the RIBA Plan of Work 2020; providing a flexible service for each project. We produce considered designs based on client briefs and our vast experience within each sector. We manage all encounters with the Planning Department and the Local Authority on your behalf and have an excellent record for achieving planning permission. 


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See below information from the RIBA Plan of Work 2020 Overview 


The primary goal of Stage 0 is strategic – to ratify that a construction project, or otherwise, is the best means of achieving the Client Requirements. Stage 0 is not about design or the practical details. It focuses on making the right strategic decisions and capturing them in a Business Case. The stage involves considering the pros and cons, Project Risks and Project Budget for a range of options and, where necessary, carrying out Site Surveys and corresponding planning appraisals, before undertaking a comparative analysis and recommending and ratifying the best option for delivering the Client Requirements


If Stage 0 has determined that a building project is the best means of achieving the Client Requirements, the client team begin the briefing process during Stage 1. The Client Requirements for the project are considered in more detail, in connection with a specific site or sites, and the outcomes recorded in the Project Brief. The Project Brief will contain guidance on the Project Outcomes, Sustainability Outcomes and Quality Aspirations.

This stage is about developing the information that the design team will need to commence the design process at Stage 2. Feasibility Studies might be required in order to tease out the full range of briefing considerations and to demonstrate that the Spatial Requirements can be accommodated on the site. In some instances, several options might be prepared, but these options should not be vetted and appraised at this stage. Feasibility Studies are not part of the design process. As there is a direct correlation between cost and a building’s area, the Spatial Requirements do need to be tested against the Project Budget.

The design team, with appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to deliver the Project Outcomes, needs to be selected, ready for Stage 2 to commence. On smaller projects, this team may already have been appointed to develop the Project Brief.

A comprehensive set of Site Information needs to be sourced, including Site Surveys, ready for Stage 2 to commence. 


Stage 2 sets the Architectural Concept for a project. Proposals that align with the Site Information and the Project Brief, including the Spatial Requirements, are prepared. Regular Design Reviews are used to seek comments from the client and other Project Stakeholders and the design is iterated in response. Any Project Brief Derogation's are agreed, or the Project Brief is adjusted to align with the Architectural Concept.

The Architectural Concept proposals must also be iterated to accommodate inputs from the design team and from specialist consultants, including the Strategic Engineering requirements (building services, civil and structural engineering). The proposals must also be coordinated with the Project Strategies, and everything captured in a Stage Report. The Cost Plan should demonstrate that the proposals and Outline Specification are aligned to the Project Budget.

The proposals should demonstrate that the Spatial Requirements are being achieved, along with any adjacency requirements. Any non-briefed areas, such as cores, must be developed sufficiently to coordinate with the Architectural Concept. Externally, the building must meet the vision of the client, as well as the demands of the local context and environment. The client may seek pre-application Planning Advice on the suitability of the initial proposal from a planning adviser or the relevant planning department. The Architectural Concept must also be reviewed against the Quality Aspirations, and the route to Building Regulations compliance needs to be clarified and agreed.

A Stage 2 Design Programme must be prepared, in line with the Project Programme and Responsibility Matrix, to guide the design process and to ensure that the Information Requirements are included in the Stage Report signed off by the client. 


Stage 3 is fundamentally about testing and validating the Architectural Concept, to make sure that the architectural and engineering information prepared at Stage 2 is Spatially Coordinated before the detailed information required to manufacture and construct the building is produced at Stage 4.

Detailed Design Studies and Engineering Analysis are undertaken to ratify the assumptions made during Stage 2 and to layer more detail onto the design. Stage 3 is not about adjusting the Architectural Concept, which should remain substantially unaltered, although detailed design or engineering tasks may require adjustments to make sure that the building is Spatially Coordinated. Changes to the Architectural Concept, for whatever reason, should be agreed via the Change Control Procedure.

Design Studies should be aligned to Cost Exercises and the development of the Outline Specification – iterations of the design may be required to ensure the Cost Plan aligns with the Project Budget. Product suppliers and specialist subcontractors might be consulted to test or conclude specific aspects of the design. A Spatially Coordinated design allows each designer, including specialist subcontractors, to finalise their information at Stage 4 (except for minor tweaks at interfaces) without further major iterations of the design.

The Project Strategies need to be updated and additional detail added, and a Building Regulations review undertaken. A Stage 3 Design Programme is created to make sure that the right tasks are undertaken at the right time. At the end of Stage 3, once the client has signed off a Stage Report that captures all the design development work undertaken during the stage, a Planning Application can be submitted. 


Stage 4 involves the preparation of all information required to manufacture and construct a building. The core documents at the start of Stage 4 are the Responsibility Matrix, the Information Requirements and the Stage 4 Design Programme, which is heavily influenced by the Procurement Strategy.

The Responsibility Matrix, produced in Stage 1, defines whether the design team will deliver Prescriptive Information or Descriptive Information (including Final Specifications) for each Building System. Prescriptive Information can be used for construction purposes, with Descriptive Information issued where a specialist subcontractor will design a Building System for manufacturing and/or construction. While the Procurement Strategy influences who takes ultimate responsibility for Manufacturing Information and Construction Information, it is a common misconception that it also determines who is to produce it. However, a client on a design and build project may wish the design team’s information to be as prescriptive as possible, keeping the need for specialist subcontractor design of Building Systems to a minimum. Conversely, a client using traditional procurement may require several specialist subcontractors to design Building Systems.

The Procurement Strategy does, however, influence when the Building Systems will be designed, dictating how the Stage 4 Design Programme will be structured. The Procurement Strategy might require Stage 4 to be undertaken in two parts. 

The Procurement Strategy may also influence the structure of the project team. With this is mind, it is important that the Procurement Strategy is clear about project roles, including who will direct the work of the design team and who will review the design work of specialist subcontractors.

A Building Regulations Application should be made during Stage 4, before work commences on site. It will also be necessary to discharge any pre-commencement Planning Conditions.

Cost control measures applied during this stage will vary from project to project. These might include the preparation of an updated Cost Plan, bills of quantities or pricing schedules, as defined by the Procurement Strategy. The Building Contract needs to be agreed and signed at some point during the stage, to allow Stage 5 to commence. The majority of Project Strategies developed by the design team will be embedded in the Manufacturing Information and/or Construction Information, but some will continue into this stage and beyond. It is not usually necessary to produce a Stage Report for Stage 4.


Stage 5 comprises the manufacturing and construction of the Building Systems in accordance with the Construction Programme agreed in the Building Contract. Increasingly, digital technologies are being used to rehearse different construction activities, allowing Stage 5 to be faster and safer. As the construction industry moves towards greater uptake of offsite manufacturing, greater emphasis is also placed on the logistics of getting materials and large-scale components to site on time, and on the management of supply chain partners.

It should be clear from the outset who is responsible for responding to Site Queries, for regularly reporting on Construction Quality, for inspecting the works and monitoring progress, and for producing the Defects List prior to Practical Completion being certified. This may be the design team, who have produced the Stage 2, 3 and 4 information, or it may be a separate standalone role or client team. A separate team may have delivered the Stage 4 information, and the design team members might be allocated different roles at Stage 5. There is no right or wrong way to assemble the project team at this stage. However, which options have been chosen and who is responsible for what require clarification in the Responsibility Matrix.

Stage 5 concludes with the issue of a Practical Completion certificate, which allows a building to be handed over. The Plan for Use Strategy requires several tasks and activities to be undertaken before and after Practical Completion. Approaching Practical Completion, the construction team are focused on completing the manufacturing and construction of the project, so it is important that a project team member is allocated the role of planning for handover at Stage 6. On larger projects, a team might be formed to focus on the tasks that will deliver effective performance and operation of the building in use, rather than on completing the construction works.

Preparations for handover will include compilation of the Building Manual and the completion of Verified Construction Information, and maybe the delivery of Asset Information. Even the simplest of projects requires a Building Manual. For example, on a residential project, information on how to use appliances or set thermostats to operate effectively needs to be provided. What information will be required to use and operate the building needs to be considered at the outset, so that it can be collated at each project stage. The requirements can, however, be reviewed closer to completion, to make sure the client team receive the best possible information for the effective performance and management of their asset.


Stage 6 starts with the building being handed over to the client, with Aftercare initiated and the Building Contract concluded.

After the building has been handed over, the construction team rectify any residual defects as promptly as possible. Usually twelve months after Practical Completion, the Final Certificate will be issued, which concludes the contractual involvement of the design and construction teams. Although Stage 6 commences after the building has been handed over, several tasks may need to commence during Stage 5 to ensure that the handover of the building is as efficient and effective as possible, such as training the users on how to use the Building Systems.

In addition to the core contractual obligations to rectify defects, certify Practical Completion and close out the Building Contract, other tasks need to be undertaken. A Project Performance session needs be facilitated, so that the project team can share their experiences for the benefit of future projects.

Initial Aftercare tasks need to be initiated and completed. The project team will be interested in the Feedback from a light touch Post Occupancy Evaluation, conducted once any seasonal Commissioning has been completed, so they can understand how the building is performing and whether the building and its systems are being used as planned. Client, design and construction teams undertaking repeat building types can gain enormously from this process, by identifying trends across several projects.


On the majority of projects, the design team and construction team will have no Stage 7 duties to undertake. However, both teams will be interested in receiving ongoing Feedback, to help them understand how they might improve the performance of future buildings.

Post Occupancy Evaluation services are commissioned to determine how the building is performing in use to help fine tune the building and inform future projects.

Some client teams will continue to be closely involved during the life of a building, implementing Facilities Management or Asset Management strategies over the course of the building’s lifetime. Asset Information, the Building Manual and these strategies may be updated on a regular basis. In the future, a Digital Twin might be used to optimise the operation and maintenance of the building and to compare predicted performance with actual performance.

In some Building Contracts, maintenance obligations might extend beyond Stage 6. Where this is not the case, a new standalone maintenance contract might be set up. This would require continuity of knowledge about how the building operates, therefore the Asset Information would need to be kept live and relevant throughout the life of the building.

At the end of a building’s life, Stage 0 commences again. In line with circular economy principles, a refurbishment might prolong the life of the building or facilitate a new use. Where neither is possible, the deconstruction of the building will be undertaken after a new use for the site, and perhaps a new building, has been commissioned. Regardless of the outcome, the circular process of the RIBA Plan of Work moves the site towards its next meaningful use.

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