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Adam Laskey17-Oct-2023 21:56:086 min read


How Long Will it Take to Design My Building Project? | Märraum

Your construction start date is often what you're waiting for most eagerly; after all, this is the point when it feels like your dream is starting to become a reality. But getting there can take a long time, with lots of hard work and decision-making alongside your architect. 

The timeframes for design (and build) will largely depend on the size of your building project. A smaller extension should be speedier than a whole house renovation or new build.

As a rough guide on the timeframes involved, we've considered a full-house renovation on a 3-4 bedroom home with an extension, based on the process we follow at Marraum. This should give you an idea of how long it takes your architect to draw plans and see them through to approval.


Getting started: how to find the right architect for you.

Finding the right design and architect team, making sure they can work with your vision and brief as well as meet cost and time constraints, can and perhaps should take a while. Spending a little time at this point will pay dividends later because choosing the right people to work with will make your life easier and your project a more enjoyable, smooth experience.

To do this stage properly could take about a month: organising meetings with your shortlisted design teams and getting acquainted with their offered services, carrying out research, receiving fee proposals and making the big decision of who is right for you.

Initial meetings with your architect should take upwards of an hour, for inspiration on topics and a rough guide of questions to ask, find out more about getting the most from your architect in our blog.


Drafting your architectural plans

Once you decide who you want to work with, it can then take up to 2 weeks before an on-site visit can be scheduled. This is where a survey is carried out on the building and site.

It usually takes a day to gather sufficient information and then a further 2 weeks to put all of this information onto the drawing systems. All this gives a strong foundation to begin the design process.

Sketch schemes, massing models, and Virtual Reality (VR) experiences can then take 2-3 weeks to put together before your design is in a position to discuss with you in detail. Then there's likely to be a further 2 weeks of tweaking and improvements.

looking up at hanging light pendent and surfboard on the wall 

From the moment you make the decision to start a project, getting to the building stage without any unplanned delays can take 5-6 months.

It's not compulsory but at this stage, you may benefit by lining up discussions with builders or a quantity surveyor (QS). Your architectural design team will endeavour to design in line with your budget – however, having a second or third pair of eyes cast over the designs can save you from an awkward conversation months down the line if things don't add up.

Consulting the builders who are going to price for the work or the QS that delves deep into the construction figures, at this stage, can either give you the confidence to take your design into planning or the intel to revise the design before incurring unnecessary additional costs.

Working with a third party can take about a month of waiting and additional costs, so if time is not on your side this may not be something you want to consider.


Acquiring planning permission

When you're fully happy moving forward, there will be some further design development/refinement on your proposal, to get ready to start the planning application. 

Before taking this step, read our blog on things you need to know before applying for planning permission, as this is an area that can add time to your project, and being well-prepared beforehand will give you the best chance of reducing this time. 
Consider as well that there are a number of alterations you can make to a property that do not require planning permission, but if in doubt, your architect will be able to advise you on this.

Putting together all of the drawing packages, necessary documentation, application form and getting final confirmation from you can take 3-4 weeks. Once submitted, the Local Planning Authority can take between 6-8 weeks to consider your planning application and make a decision.

From the moment you decide to start a project, getting to the building stage without any unplanned delays can take 5-6 months for a straightforward project. You are likely to see this time frame increase if other consultants are needed throughout the designing process and if pre-application enquiries with the local communities and council are undertaken.


Building regulations approval

With planning approval granted, the next stage is to gain building regulations approval. The majority of projects will need a structural engineer at this point. From giving them the go-ahead to receiving a final structural calculation package can take 2 months.

So, it's important to use this time wisely. Pre-construction information packages, asbestos surveys, etc. can all be run in tandem with the preparation of your building regulation package.

Once your application is submitted to Building Control it can take a further month before a decision is given.

 pale blue kitchen with white worktop and horizontal wood on walls


Once building regulations approval is granted, the next stage is gathering information on fixtures and fittings, materials, products, technologies etc. This information, as well as your project-specific detailed drawing, are used to put together a tender package to take out to building contractors. This package can take 4-6 weeks to put together, depending on client input.


Secure a contractor as early as possible

Once the required information is out to the carefully selected building contractors, it can take them a month to put together a list of their fees. With a successful contract put in place, it can take your chosen contractor a further month to get everything in place before starting your build - and that's assuming they have a slot ready to start a new project.

Oftentimes, contractors can be booked up for the next 6-9 months. To avoid any disappointments at this late stage, we always recommend speaking to some contractors early in the design process to try and get them interested and available.

While the sooner you can secure a contractor, the sooner work can begin, this is another stage where taking the time to find the right contractor for your project can pay off in the long run. 

This is another area where your architect will be able to advise based on past experience, especially if you are working with a local architect who will be aware of who can be sourced locally with experience in your type of project. 


Summary: what to expect from your architect during the planning stage

Things can happen more speedily than the above example, but in our experience, it can take up to a year to design and plan a full house renovation/extension project, with a further estimated 6-8 months build time after that.

To conclude, you are likely to be in contact with your design team for around 18 months while they design your building project. There is a lot of work to be carried out at all the stages – it’s therefore essential that you choose the right architect team that gives you confidence in successfully delivering your project.

Expertise aside, don’t forget to seek out a team that you gel with, as you will be spending a good deal of time with them to create your dream build.


Enlist an expert architectural team to make your project a reality

If you’re looking for a Cornwall-based architect that can make your building project a reality, do get in touch with us. We’d love to have a chat, no matter the size and scope of your project.

See some of the projects we’ve worked on in the past, and meet our team to get a broader idea of what we offer.

If you're looking at starting your building project in Cornwall, we have a wealth of knowledge for the county and the towns within it, such as Falmouth and Helston.


Adam Laskey

Adam Laskey - Blogs