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RIBA plan of work – 8 stages for success

RIBA plan of work

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) define the RIBA Plan of Work as “the definitive model for the design and construction process of buildings.”

On the basis they created it, I think they might be a little bias. However, I have to agree that it is an impressive toolkit for managing projects and increasing the chance of successful developments.

A testament to its success, I believe, is how it has become common lingo in project teams. Ever hear a project team member say, “What stage is the design at?” or “We will include that detail when we produce the stage 4 drawings”.

If any of this is sounding foreign to you, don’t worry, these are technical terms included within the RIBA Plan of Work. The good news is that it really is user friendly and breaks down the development process very well (See the links at the bottom to download from the RIBA website.)

What is it?

In simple terms, it breaks down the development process into 8 stages from briefing and designing, through to construction and operation.

As expected, it is quite focused on the architect and the design process, but as long as you understand it’s limitations, it can be a very effective tool for project management.

The stages and their key outcomes

0 – Strategic definition – gather client requirements.

1 – Preparation and briefing – establishing the project brief.

2 – Concept design – architectural concept aligned with project brief.

3 – Spatial coordination – architectural and engineering information is coordinated spatially. Design at this stage is typically adequate for a planning submission.

4 – Technical design – all design information required to manufacture and construct the project completed. Some overlap with stage 5.

5 – Manufacturing and construction – construction and commissioning carried out. Site queries should be the only design work required.

6 – Handover – building handed over, any aftercare is put in place and the building contract can be concluded.

7 – Use – building put into use or operation and efficient maintenance plan carried out.

These are high level outcomes, additionally there are multiple core tasks and coordination of the various members of the design team to effectively work through each stage.

There is no such thing as a “silver bullet” for managing development projects, they are wide ranging and each carry their own set of complexities, however, the RIBA Plan of Work is a good framework. It is an effective tool for aligning the design coordination element of the project, therefore can help to minimise exposure to programme and cost implications.

Who should know about it?

Everyone in the project team. As development lenders, we refer to it and so do some of our funders, brokers and introducers. If everyone has at least a basic understanding of the stages, it will ultimately help communication and the prospect of development success.

Three key takeaways for developers:

  1. Nail the brief – take time to fully consider and establish the brief, this will make agreeing scope and deliverables with the project team easier and will help you monitor the project progress.
  2. Know your stages – this gives your project team including lenders confidence that you really understand the project.
  3. Detail matters – a well-designed, fully coordinated project will reduce the risk of programme and cost overruns.

We would love to be part of your team for your next project and help get your development completed. Click here  to fill in our form and one of the team will get in touch.

Don’t have time to read the 146 page full document? Here is a link to download the 1 page overview RIBA Plan of Work template. Link to RIBA Plan of Work web page for more details.

Matthew Keys - RIBA plan of work insight

Matthew has over 7 years’ experience in the UK real estate market with extensive project management experience in corporate real estate, investment and property development sectors. As Director of Projects for Sancus, he is currently involved in managing multiple project work streams and is managing construction and land development projects for the wider business.

He was responsible for the delivery of Somerston Group’s hotel projects; delivering complex refurbishment projects in excess of 250 bedrooms in Grade I and II* listed properties. He has also been part of the land development business, a strategic land and development focussed business with capacity for in excess of 2,350 units within its strategic portfolio.

Matthew holds an MBA from the University College of Estate Management and a BSc in Architectural Technology and Management. Matthew joined Sancus in January 2021.

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