Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Commonly asked questions and answers below.


How do we get things started?


Give us a call, or make an enquiry via our Contact us page, and we'll come back to you as soon as possible to arrange an initial meeting to kick-start your project. We will then provide you with a written proposal detailing how we feel we can assist and our anticipated fee breakdown and timescales. It's up to you to then give us the green light, and we'll start things moving as soon as we can, involving you in the interesting parts and removing the stressful and time consuming other parts which you need not worry about.


Is my project too big or too small?


At Campbell McCrae Ltd we have a diverse team of staff with a combined experience of over 75 years in the architectural field. There is rarely a project type that comes up which we have not had some experience with in the past. Whether it be simple advice on  alterations to maximise the potential of your property, full restoration of a Grade II* listed building, or a million pound regeneration of a community centre, we have the expertise and experience to get involved and add value.

Please take a look at our Portfolio and Blog pages to see examples of work we have completed recently. If we feel that we are not best placed to help you, we will certainly tell you, so what's the harm in asking?


How long do the processes take?


A difficult question to answer, as it is often very specific to each project. Typically a residential home extension would take six months from our initial meeting to breaking ground on site. During this time we are of course providing ideas and advice, drawings, details, reports, supporting statements and preparing applications to the Local Authorities and for competitive tendering purposes.

However, there are many factors which could delay the process. For example, if the building is listed and/or in a Conservation Area, it is often much harder to achieve Local Authority approval for the works. In addition, if the site is particulary sensitive to flooding or ecology issues, specialist surveys, reports and proposals need to be put forwards, some of which are only able to be prepared during certain months of the year.

Generally time is directly linked to the complexity of the project, with large new build developments taking far longer than residential extensions and conversions. However, each project gets our full attention and no one type of project gains priority over the next. We will always carry out our remit at the earliest opportunity, and ensure that momentum is maintained all the way through to completion of the build (or otherwise where our services are no longer required).

How do i find out more about the processes ahead?

Our products and services page gives a good indication of the processes involved in most projects. However, we have provided some handy links to external websites below, which will provide you with more detail on the 'do's and don'ts' and the various regulations and restrictions when planning your project and build.

As a matter of course, the processes are generally discussed and explained during our initial consultation with the client, so that everyone is entering into the journey with their eyes wide open.

Planning portal link:

Permitted Development Rights link:

LABC (Local Authority Building Control) link

Is your property listed? Historic England link


How much are your fees?


Campbell McCrae offer a 'Pay as you Go' service to our clients where you only ever pay for hours completed on your project. This avoids our clients overpaying fees on occasions where we have not used up all of the hours we had anticipated, and which would be chargeable had we provided a fixed fee quotation.

This flexible arrangement allows our clients the ability to add and remove our services to suit their budget and requirements, without being tied in to a single fixed fee. Often clients find that they want to become far more involved with the specification of fixtures and fittings than they first anticipated. By doing so, this reduces our remit and as a result this is reflected in less hours and less fee being charged. We invoice at regular stage intervals (planning, building regulations, tender etc), which enables our clients to keep an accurate tab on our fee level and adjust our remit as required to suit their budget and expectations.

Alternatively, we are able to provide fixed fee quotations or fixed percentage quotations (based on the cost of the final build).

You should also consider other potential costs involved with your project, such as;

Accurate measured building/land survey
Structural condition report
Structural Engineers input
Local Authority application fees (planning and building regulations applications)
Arboricultural impact assessments and tree surveys
Energy performance calculations and certification (SAP & EPC)
Contamination studies
Ecology studies
Flood risk assessments

As a rule of thumb, professional bodies such as the RIBA generally suggest that consultants fees attributed to a project (including our own) would total in the region of 15% of the build cost. We can help you determine the level of sub-consultant involvement early on in the project, to avoid any late surprises, and with our 'Pay-as-you-Go' fee structure, will do our utmost to be efficient with our time.


How much will it cost to build?


Ah, the million dollar question that every client wants to know. It is very difficult to value a project without going through the detailed design process and production of specifications. Only then can you determine the complexity of the build and the quality of fixtures and fittings desired. Ultimatley, the construction cost will be whatever a builder is prepared to build it for at the time they are approached. However, if the client has a budget range in mind, we can help design within those perametres from the start.

There are ways to help determine the likely cost of a project during the early stages of design. Cost per square meter rates can be applied to new build elements with a fair degree of accuracy. Alteration works to existing structures are much harder to determine however and often suprise clients due to their complexity and the 'messing around factor'. New build cost is typically between £1500 and £2500 (+vat) per square meter, depending on the complexity of the design and the level of finish.

Alternativeley Campbell McCrae Ltd work closely with local chartered Quantity Surveyors whom, for a reasonable fee, can take a preliminary design and (making some assumptions) provide a more accurate suggested budget figure.

Don't forget VAT (at 20%), which is applicable on all construction work, with the exception of new build houses and some listed buildings.