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Client Charter

Who are we?

We are a multidisciplinary award-winning RIBA chartered Architects design practice, with an agenda that puts sustainability at the forefront of our designs.


Why employ Alston Architects?

We are your eyes, ears and hands and will guide you through the building process from briefing to post completion, so you need to talk to us, communication is key to the client architect relationship. We will provide much more than just drawings and information, we will be the holistic guide for the project. Below we outline the stages of a building project from initial conception to completion and beyond and how the industry structures this with RIBA 'stages'.



RIBA Stage 0

‘Strategic definition’


This stage is about the BIG IDEAS and building a dialogue between you and us. We will seek to understand the aims of your project and the ethos of your organisation.

You will need to consider:

  • What is your underlying need to build?

  • Are you trying to improve your business / home / lifestyle?

  • Where will this take place? Do you have a range of site options?

  • Would you consider refurbishing instead of building from scratch?

  • What do you want the space to feel like?

  • What is the big idea behind the project?

  • What are your long term goals?

  • How are you funding this project?

  • What are your time constraints?

The principals will be very involved at this stage, to use their experience to guide you down the first steps of the project path. If you are an experienced client you may have your own in house team you are working with. We will suggest ideas about assembling a bigger team from other consultants we regularly work with and trust.


Time spent developing the brief is well spent. Expect a strategic brief, sketch designs, site appraisals and other studies testing the viability of your business case. Alston Architects aim to establish what the broad goals, which will inform the feasibility studies in the next stage.



‘Preparation & Brief’


Working with you to develop the strategic brief unto a more specific ‘initial project brief’. This provides enough quantifiable information for feasibility studies and the design process to get started. The project team is established, based on our suggestions of other specialists and consultants in the previous stage.

We need you to:

  • Put team appointments into place

  • Advise us clearly of funding and budget limits

  • Alert us to other stakeholders and interested bodies, and how you as a client body works. Who is your main point of contact?

  • Confirm the project objectives including quality and other outcomes

  • Accept the time targets and overall project constraints to move forward.



  • Feasibility studies

  • Detailed accommodation schedule

  • Time / cost / quality constraints

  • Site constraints

  • Planning constraints eg. Conservation issues

  • Stakeholder constraints.

  • Initial Cost plan

  • Establish client meeting agenda for next stage of design development


PROJECT TAG LINE – Alston Architects suggest coming up with a project tagline at this stage that captures the driving force and spirit of the project. This will help focus the project team’s energy and ensure we don’t get too lost in the detail.




‘Concept design’


Your preferred feasibility is developed into a concept design that begins to answer the questions you have asked. Alston Architects together with the team will define key project strategies. For example, environmental strategy, a structural strategy and a material palette and identity for the scheme.

Alston Architects will carry out weekly project reviews and will attend monthly client meetings.


Client meeting – To discuss key aspects and monitor design development.

Design development – We begin moving from massing, to confirm how best the spaces should be arranged to meet your needs, and in some cases into the scale of the room, to respond to your brief on a more tactile scale. But we always jump between the small and the large scale to understand the scheme in its context.

Technical design- Alston Architects will begin to test the scheme more technically by looking at issues like fire and building control, maintenance and sustainability as these have an integral impact on the general arrangement of the scheme.


Town Planning Alston Architects begin a dialogue with town planners, in preparation for planning submission and understand the requirements for submission.

Procurement strategy – We will discuss the best delivery option for you that meets your time cost and quality goals and agree on a way of moving forward. 


  • Fully developed Final brief

  • Concept design for you to sign off and agree to move forward.

  • Cost information that ties in with the concept design.



‘Developed design’


Translating the concept design into a real building design. The design team work together to coordinate the design spatially, so that structure, architecture and mechanical services are in harmony. Cost information becomes more realistic as real materials are quantified and specified, and the programme becomes more detailed. Town planning usually occurs at the end of this stage.


  • DTMs and sharing of 3D models to progress coordination of design elements.

  • Design workshops with specialist suppliers and manufacturers.

  • Review project risks.

  • Develop Health and safety strategy & ensure matters have been considered.


At the end of this stage we like to conclude with a report that captures the complete concept design and a presentation that includes visualisations to get your approval, before we submit to planning.


‘Technical design’


Alston Architects pride themselves on understanding the ‘nuts and bolts’ of architecture Including how an element looks, standards of workman ship, it functions and how it meets the required technical standards. Alston Architects will devote maximum resources to getting the project to a resolution, with directors carrying out periodic reviews to ensure project goals are kept.


At the end of this stage you can expect the design to be complete, in the form of technical information such as drawings, schedules, specifications. This design information will be sufficient for tendering (if relevant) or to allow specialist subcontractors to develop.




In this stage, the building is on site and built to programme. The design has been transferred to the contractor to build, but we still play a crucial role in the proper delivery of the project. If it is within our appointment, Alston Architects offer contract administration service. We can also act as your eyes on site, carrying out site inspections checking that the building is built to contract.  A project architect will go to site at least once a week, with associates or directors attending if necessary.




‘Handover and close out’


Ensuring the smooth completion of the building project, by inspecting works and certifying practical completion. We will inspect to see if any defects need to be rectified by the contractor. The health and safety file and any operations & maintenance manuals will transfer to you as will the responsibility of insuring the building.



‘In Use’

Alston Architects like to continue relationship with users’ years after completion because we think client architect relationship continues long after practical completion. We like to conclude a project with an evaluation of all aspects of the scheme, and project, how well you felt we responded to your brief, how much value you got from us as well as your satisfaction with the building, how it looks works and feels.

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