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existing site & brief analysis

The first stage is to understand you the client, and your site or building. To do this we visit the site to assess the physical properties of the site along with visibility, outward views, and any constraints or opportunities.

If there are any existing trees on the site, we obtain a tree survey to assess the condition and identify where the root protection areas are – and if your site may have bats we obtain a bat survey.

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We ask you to complete a questionnaire about your accommodation, style and lifestyle requirements, which we go through with you in detail, and for you to create a pinterest board, so we can understand your style preferences.

At the end of this stage we will have an understanding of all the factual information regarding the site, your requirements and what we need to overcome to achieve them.

outline design proposal

Now that we have an understanding of the facts, we decide on the strategies required to achieve your desired outcome. This includes strategies in relation to the site, scale, massing, architectural style, materials, space-planning and overall design.

The strategies are based on the physical site, planning policy, and your accommodation requirements. We assess if your site or building benefits from permitted development rights, discuss how your accommodation relates to your budget, and propose the planning, and strategy for the best chance of success.

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At the end of this stage, you will see an overall strategy of how your requirements can be achieved including how the building will sit on the site, how it would look, how the internal spaces would be arranged, an indication of how much it will cost, and how the planning process will proceed.

concept development

This stage is where we translate the strategies into a drawings package and a 3D walkthrough of the project. Ever watched Your Home Made Perfect? This is the moment when you can experience the proposal in real-time virtual reality.

We guide you through your property from arriving on your driveway and walking through your new home seeing the concept come to life before your eyes. The drawings will be fully furnished showing you exactly how you would live in each space according to your specific brief.

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Requested a dog shower, or a covered outdoor kitchen, or a yoga studio with a view? – it will be there… We pride ourselves on listening to your exact requirements and presenting a scheme which works for your family.

At the end of this stage, you will have a full building design, you will understand what it looks like, what it feels like, and the scale of each space. You will see how light enters the space at different times of the day, what views you experience from within the property and the dimensions of each space.

developed design and visualisations

This stage is when we take on board any feedback from the concept development stage to complete the developed drawings package and updated visualisations.

The strategies are based on the physical site, planning policy, and your accommodation requirements. We assess if your site or building benefits from permitted development rights, discuss how your accommodation relates to your budget, and propose the planning, and strategy for the best chance of success.

pre-application submission

Pre-Application submissions provide an opportunity to engage with the planning department prior to the formal planning submission. It allows you to understand how the scheme would be received by the planning officer including any concerns to overcome.

We generally submit a full design proposal in some instances we may advise this is not required. This process can vary between 6 weeks and 6 months depending on the council’s workload. It involves a meeting on-site with the planning officer and us when we discuss the officer’s thoughts including any revisions which could be incorporated to address any potential concerns. We receive a formal response relating to planning policy, design and if the scheme would be supported in its current form.

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We submit a full design proposal with a comprehensive statement explaining the design and policy justification. At the end of this stage, you will have an understanding of what is required to achieve approval.

planning submission

This stage involves preparing the planning submission package for the formal planning application. Any comments within the pre-application response are addressed, and the planning drawings package is completed. The package includes all existing and proposed drawings, a design and access statement, visualisations including distance viewpoints, and heritage schemes require a heritage statement.

ZMA act as your agent managing the planning process from start to finish, including managing other consultants, making the submission, and liaising with the planning officer throughout.

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At the end of this stage, you will have a planning submission package with supporting statements and surveys, your planning application will be submitted and managed by ZMA, and you will generally receive a decision within 9-13 weeks of the submission (dependant on the planning department’s workload).

planning conditions

You have now received planning permission for your project which includes an approval notice with conditions. Some projects will have a number of conditions which need discharging prior to work commencing on-site, or prior to using the building. This will involve information being submitted within a planning application to discharge each condition. Additional information can include the specific materials, drainage, landscaping, ground conditions etc.

At the end of this stage, the required conditions will be discharge prior to commencing on site or using the building. This process will be 9-13 weeks which can be submitted while the technical design stage is progressing.

building regulations

Building Regulations approval is required for the majority of construction projects and is achieved in two stages. The first stage is progressing the planning drawings into a detailed construction drawing package to satisfy the relevant ‘Approved Documents’ that apply to your project. Before we commence on the drawings, we discuss the pros and cons of different construction methods with you and agree on the best solution for your budget, the site and eco specification you wish to achieve.

We produce a preliminary package of drawings of the chosen construction method, which includes site plans, floor plans, elevations, and sections. Within our drawings we indicate structural elements and then liaise with consultants to ensure that all elements of the construction are designed and have been thoroughly thought through. Our drawings are then updated with the consultant’s information to create a cohesive set of Building Regulations drawings. This is submitted to Building Control as a ‘Full Plans Application’ with a ‘Plan Fee’, which can vary depending on the size of the project. This fee is for the first stage of the Building Regulations application.

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At the end of this stage, you will have a Building Regulations submission package with supporting consultant drawings, your application will be submitted and managed by ZMA, and you will generally receive a ‘Conditional Approval’ within 5-8 weeks of the submission, the application isn’t full approved until work is completed on site.

The second stage of the Building Regulations application is site visits during the construction period carried out by the Building Inspector. The ‘Inspection Fee’ is paid just before work commences on site and covers visiting the site, inspecting the work, and issuing a completion certificate confirming that Building Regulations approval has been achieved.

technical stage

Before the second stage of the Building Regulations application can commence, additional information is required to provide the Contractor with a thorough understanding of how you would like to project built and finished. The Building Regulations drawings don’t include internal design choices/materials, fixtures, fittings and mechanical/electrical layouts.

We work very closely with yourselves at what we find is one of the most exciting parts of the projects for our clients. This is the stage where you can commence speaking to kitchen designers, lighting companies, go shopping for tiling and bathrooms, etc. Any choices you make at this stage we capture within the drawings.

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At the end of this stage, you will have a similar set of drawings produced at the Building Regulations stage but with additional layers of information, details and internal design choices. This set of drawings leads directly into the next stage.

tender stage

This stage is the final layer of information required to inform the Contractor of everything included in your project and to provide you with an overall construction cost. The technical stage drawings are used to produce a Schedule of Works, which itemises every single element of the build and allows the contractor to put a cost against them.

The Schedule of Works also includes provisional sums, which create a budget for you to spend during the construction period. The choices made at the technical stage for internal fixings and finishes are calculated against the quantity or area required and are added as lump sums which are included within the overall construction figure.

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During this stage we also act at your Principal Designer and compile your CDM information, which highlights any health and safety issues relating to the Construction Design and Management Regulations (2015). We produce a Risk Register and note possible issues on the existing and proposed site plans. This set of information also includes site compound locations, any access issues, site deliveries processes etc.

We liaise with consultants from Landscape Architects, Lighting Designers, Interior Designers, etc to ensure that all elements of the design are considered but also accounted for within the tender documents to ensure they are costed to provide you with a clear understanding of the final build cost.

We advise you on a suitable Building Contract which could either be from the JCT or RIBA suite of contracts, this is dependent on the scale and type of construction project.

At the end of this stage, you will have a detailed tender package, which we will submit to a minimum of 3 local Contractors who are on our approved tender list. We co-ordinate the competitive tender and meet with them on site to discuss any questions or queries. We allow the contractors between 3-4 weeks, depending on the scale of the project, to return their Form of Tender.

We undertake a tender review, analyse any cost savings by comparing the itemised prices. We assist you with selecting a Contractor and draw up the chosen building contract acting as your Contract Administrator.


Throughout the duration of the construction phase, we administer the Building Contract between yourself and Contractor, acting as your go-between to make sure the build is progressing as per the Construction Phase Programme, provided by the Contractor. We are responsible for carrying out weekly site visits, leading monthly full team meetings, monitoring the build and ensuring that the work is completed to a high standard.

At the end of the construction phase, which could vary between 6 – 18 months, we lead a Handover Meeting and issue a Practical Completion Certificate which certifies that the build is complete and has been built as per the drawings.

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We review monthly valuations issued by the Contractor and provide Interim Payment Certificates which certify that the work claimed for has been done to release payment. We also issue Architect Instruction’s against all variations, when and how the provisional sums are spent and if the contingency sum needs to be claimed against. This keeps a running total of the costs to ensure you are always aware of the final construction figure.

in use

This stage is the Defects Liability Period, which is either 6 or 12 months, depending on the type of project. As part of the Practical Completion, 2.5% of the final construction cost is kept back by yourselves so if any issues arise during this time, the contractor is liable to fix or replace them, ensuring you have peace of mind when enjoying your new home.

At the end of this stage and the Defects Liability Period, we agree the Final Account and issue the Final Payment Certificate for the remaining 2.5%.