All our projects are different. From house refurbishments, to new school classrooms, to affordable housing projects. So, when you first approach us, we would like to arrange a meeting to spend a while talking about the project with you. There is no fee for this initial meeting. We want to understand your ambition for the project and the inspiration behind it, as well as getting an idea of your budget and timescale. The conversation may also highlight issues that you may not have yet considered - such as planning constraints and party wall matters. Following this initial meeting, we can put together a fee proposal tailored to suit your particular requirements.




Unless you have accurate drawings of the site / house already, it will be necessary to carry out a measured survey of the property. For small-scale projects, we may be able to do this in-house. Otherwise, we can assist you in obtaining competitive quotations and appointing a specialist survey company to carry out this work.


Once we have a survey and our scope of work has been agreed we can start on the design work. A number of different layout options can be explored at this stage. To help you visualise the design concepts we will produce hand-drawn sketches showing the external appearance of the proposals. We will also provide sketch plans with indicative furniture layouts to help you envisage how the rooms could be used and the flow between spaces.

Once you are happy with the chosen design, we will finalise a set of drawings (plans, sections and elevations) for your approval before moving onto the next stage. 


During this stage we will submit a planning application, which usually comprises: application forms, planning application drawings and a Design and Access Statement. The Design and Access Statement is a written and illustrated document that we put together to explain the approach, materials, concept and details of the project, along with emphasising any sustainable features. No architect can guarantee that planning permission will be granted, as this decision rests with the local planning authority. But, to ensure that your project has the best chance of success, we always take into consideration relevent local authority guidelines and, where possible we try to hold a pre-application meeting with the designated planning officer. 




including Building Regulations Application

At this stage, we work up the design and specification notes to a stage where we can demonstrate compliance with the Building Regulations. As part of this process we will co-ordinate the design input from other consultants including the structural engineer, energy consultant and (if appointed) services engineer. We will prepare an Outline Specification document giving details of chosen materials and products, and for refurbishment projects, we will write an Outline Scope of Works describing the works to the existing property. The design documentation produced by the end of this stage will describe in outline all aspects of work which will be included in the final building contract. So, at this stage, we recommend appointing a Quantity Surveyor to provide a cost report to ensure that the 'Developed Design' is in line with your budget prior to embarking on the next stage.



At this stage, with the consents and permissions granted and the budget tested, the design team will now proceed with producing the bulk of the construction information. This is largely a ‘back office’ task where little client contact is required as the design team focus on delivering the documentation.  However it can also be a time where secondary design considerations can be brought to the fore and time can be spent with the client reviewing furniture or upholstery options, for instance.


Typically Fairfax & Sparrow will draw up a tender list of four or five suitably qualified main contractors and invite expressions of interest in the works. We are fortunate to have good relationships with a number of high quality contractors who are available to work in and around Oxford and London, so finding high quality reliable contractors to tender for the work is rarely a problem.  On return of tenders, we can work with the QS (if one is appointed) to check, negotiate if necessary, and finalize the contract cost.



We recommend that all building works are carried out under a contract. We can discuss the options and advise on which contract type is most appropriate for your particular project. We can also offer a Contract Administration service, which involves regular site inspections and valuations to ensure that correct payments are made to the contractor. Alternatively, especially on smaller projects, some people will chose to project manage the project themselves. In either case, we can still be available to help with on-site queries and related construction issues.



All works take time to settle in, and sustainable buildings can require a period of trial and adjustment to any passive or active climate systems. A year after the contract has ended, we can return to the site to ensure that all is in order, and to prepare a defects list for the contractor to attend to. A sum of money will have been retained to ensure that this takes place.