How does it work?
If this is your first building construction project, don’t worry. The team at Directline Structures will guide you through every stage of the project. We will explain everything in plain English and won’t hide any costs from you. Here’s a rough guide of how we work:
We’d love to talk to you about your ideas
Duncan Murray is our Managing Director and he’s the first person to talk to. If you give us a call or fill in the contact us form, we’ll put you straight through to Duncan if he’s free. If he’s on the phone or busy, leave a message with our receptionist and he’ll probably get back to you within the hour.
What should you talk to us about?
Every building project is unique, so every conversation we have with a new client is different. You can tell us about why you need a new building and what sort of building you want. Buildings are about people, so we want to know all about the people who will use it and how they will use it. If you know how big you want the building or where it will be, great! If not, it’s not a problem at all, we can discuss this and work it out with you.
We take pride in being honest with our clients, if you know your budget, please let us know. If you’re not sure how much your budget is, based on your description Duncan can quickly give you a rough idea of what it might cost. This is very approximate and may change depending on lots of different things, but once we give you the final price and you accept it, it will not change.
Can I come and see you?
Please do! We designed and built our offices, Orbital House, so would love to show around so you can see what we do. You can arrange with Duncan to come in and have a chat over coffee or lunch to get to know us better and talk about your project in more detail. If you’d prefer, we can come and see you. If you would like to show us a site or an existing building, we’re always happy to come out and see you.
I think I’d like you to design my building, what now?
Once you have told us what you’d like, we will prepare our “initial ideas”. These will be in the form of artistic impressions, plans and elevations, and still free of charge. We do not want you to waste your money on ideas that you don’t like and don’t want. If you are happy to go ahead and use Directline Structures to design your building, we will work out a design fee and continue with the detailed design of your building until it is ready to submit it for planning approval.
We design buildings for real people, so we will work very closely with you to make sure you get everything you want from the building. You can decide what colour your building will be, what your door handles will look like and what kind of lights you want. If you don’t want to decide or need some help choosing, our team love helping with design decisions.
What is the design fee?
Unfortunately, we cannot give you our designs free of charge. As a Design and Build company, we include a lot of the later stages of the design process in our designs much earlier on than Architects, this means that we know the building will work, but it makes our designs very valuable. As we are a design and build company, we want to build your project as well as design it, so our design fee is much less than an Architects’ fee. If the project does not go ahead, the design fee will typically be two to three times the original quote, in line with design fees throughout the industry.
Do I have to do anything for the planning application?
No, we will prepare all the drawings and documents needed for the planning application and submit it on your behalf. We have a huge amount of experience dealing with the planning authorities and have developed a good relationship with them. We cannot guarantee that your planning application will be approved, but we will do everything we can to make sure it is. You will, however, need to pay the planning fee which depends on the size and function of your building.
Planning can take anything above 8 weeks. We do everything we can to make sure the planning process runs smoothly, but this is one of the few areas that is not completely in our control.
The official bits
So that everyone knows exactly what is going to happen, we ask you to sign a contract. For the design stage, this can be simple agreements through letters between us. For construction, we use an industry standard document called the JCT Design and Build Contract. It is used and trusted throughout the UK and we would be more than happy to talk through any part of it which you don’t understand or are unsure about. At this point we will have had lots of meetings to work out exactly what we will do for you, and this will be finalised in the form of a document called a specification. Everything that is in the specification is in the final cost. Anything that is not in the specification will be an extra cost. So if you have everything you want included in the specification and don’t make any changes after that, there are absolutely no other costs or hidden charges.
When can we start building?
While the planning application is with the planners, there are a few things we can do to get things moving. We can send our site team to prepare the site, which involves removing trees or rubbish, using diggers to level out the ground and putting out markers where the building will be positioned.
Who is going to build it?
Depending on the type of building, we have a number of trusted companies, or “sub-contractors”, which we use to carry out the building work. If it is a steel framed building, Lindab will manufacture the frame in Luxembourg and our expert team of steel erectors will put it up safely and efficiently. We then co-ordinate all the other teams of people we use to come in and carry out their specialist work. The whole job is overseen by one of our site managers, who is on site every day checking who is on site, what they are doing and that everything is of the highest standard. Our phones ring throughout the day with messages and updates from our site managers, and Duncan and the design team make regular visits to site to make sure everything is running smoothly, on time and on budget.
The final touches.
Once all the workers have finished, the carpets are down and the lights are on, we officially hand the building over to you, congratulations! We normally leave it to the client to purchase furniture, but if you’d like us to include the interior fit out we’d be happy to. However this isn’t the end of our involvement. If you find there are any niggles with your building, we will happily come out fix any problems.
We hope this has answered a lot of your questions and laid to rest any worries you may have had. We’re a very friendly and approachable team. There aren’t any silly questions, please feel free to give us a call and have a chat.