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How to Work with Consultants as an Architect | Part 1 | EP 11

In this podcast we walk you through how & when to choose the right consultants throughout a project's lifetime as an Architect.

We also explain how to get the most from your design team, suppliers, contractors and more. There’s that much to cover, we’ve split it into 2 parts – this episode stops at the point of planning & coordinated spatial design, aka RIBA Stage 3.

Podcast write-up

Table of Contents

Introduction: Mastering the Consultant’s Role in Project Development

Welcome to a new episode of the Academia Podcast, where we delve deeply into the consultant’s crucial role across different stages of the RIBA Plan of Work. Today, we explore the necessary consultants at each stage, how to effectively collaborate with them, and the key deliverables they provide.

Stage Zero to One: Laying the Groundwork

In the early stages of a project, especially between stage zero and one, the focus is on feasibility studies and initial site appraisals. Consultants utilise tools like OS maps to provide preliminary assessments without significant financial outlay. We discuss the limitations of these assessments and the critical need for more detailed surveys, such as topographical surveys, to understand site constraints better. This stage often involves navigating client expectations regarding costs and the level of detail required.

Stage One: The Role of Consultants in Early Planning

During stage one, the need for various consultants becomes evident. Project managers and surveyors begin their roles, focusing on outlining the project scope and identifying potential issues. Consultants are crucial in advising on procurement routes, contract forms, and preliminary designs. The episode highlights how a good project manager can safeguard project interests early on, helping navigate complex regulations and client expectations.

Stage Two: Enhancing Design with Expert Consultation

As the project moves into stage two, the design phase becomes more complex, necessitating a broader range of consultant inputs. This stage might involve heritage consultants if the project is in a sensitive area, or planning consultants to engage in pre-application discussions with local authorities. We explore how these consultants contribute to refining the project design, ensuring it aligns with local guidelines and historical preservation standards.

Stage Three: Detailed Planning and Submission

Stage three is where the planning becomes more detailed, and submissions to local authorities are prepared. Here, the role of consultants expands significantly to include specialised inputs such as structural, MEP, and fire safety considerations. The consultants’ feedback is crucial in finalising the design and preparing robust planning applications. We discuss the importance of a well-coordinated consultant team in streamlining the planning process and avoiding potential pitfalls.

Stage Four and Five: From Paper to Reality

The final stages, four and five, focus on the actual implementation and construction oversight. Project managers and contract administrators play pivotal roles in ensuring that construction adheres to the plans and schedules. This part of the podcast discusses how consultants transition from advisory roles to hands-on supervision to ensure that project execution aligns with client expectations and regulatory compliance.

Conclusion: The Integral Role of Consultants

The podcast wraps up by emphasising the integral role of consultants throughout the project lifecycle. From initial appraisals to construction oversight, consultants not only ensure compliance and feasibility but also add significant value through strategic guidance. The discussion reiterates the importance of early and consistent engagement with consultants to ensure successful project outcomes.

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