The Communion Process

The journey to transform an idea into a building breaks down into five independent but interlinked Stages.

A building project isn’t something to be taken on lightly. It’s a journey that involves difficult decisions and has enormous responsibilities. But it is also a journey that offers incredible rewards. It is an opportunity to take an idea, develop it and see it take its place in the landscape for generations to come.

Part of an architect’s role in your journey is to help you to enjoy it as much as possible. We will be your expert partner when difficult decisions need to be made. We will also do everything to remove as many of the unknowns as we can to ensure your journey is as inspirational and smooth as it possibly can be. At the same time we will never forget that your project is exactly that – yours. Our job is to utilise our knowledge, experience and connections to help you realise your dream.

Whether you choose to work with us on all the Stages or not, this section gives you a useful overview of the path your project will follow. You might also like to read what our clients have to say about the process.

Stage Zero: Idealise

Testing the Principle

Starting the conversation

Your journey with Communion starts from the very first moment you email us about your architecture project.

The first step is to understand a little more about your project – our new project form gives us the information we need.

When we have this information, we take an initial look at the project.

We work closely and intensively with our clients so that we can deliver the best possible result. The other side to this, of course, is that we can only take on a few projects at any one time. We really value all the enquiries we are privileged to receive and in all cases we look to help as much as we can. We also look to make sure that there is the best possible fit between our clients’ needs and what we can actually provide.

On some projects, we are simply not the architects you need.

A project might be outside our area, for example. We work on residential projects in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire; our ecclesiastical and community projects take us nationwide. If this is the case, we will let you know – and recommend a good place to start looking in your area.

On others, we may feel that the budget may not allow you to achieve the result you want. The projects we work on typically cost upwards of £100,000. It’s a significant sum, but it is also realistic – this blog post explains more.

“We went through a very painful learning process, the build cost at any level would be much more than we had expected. We were arbitrarily setting our own expectation on price for work to be done based on the money available, not the reality of known costs.”

Again, if this is the case, we will let you know. Our commitment is to always be honest and let you know the likely budget as well as giving you visibility on when we might actually be able to schedule your project. We are focused on avoiding any surprises for our clients.

If we think a project is a good fit, we will get in touch to arrange a telephone conversation. This conversation is a chance for you to tell us more about your project. It is also an opportunity for you to see if you like the sound of us in person – an architecture project tends to be a longer term relationship, so it is a good idea to like the people you will be working with!

“The personality of your architect is very important, particularly when you’re newcomers. You quickly get a gut feel if it’s someone you can work with and discuss plans with. Our first phone call with Communion was a very positive experience.”

After this conversation, if we both agree, we will arrange to visit your site and talk through your project ‘on the ground’.

On smaller or more straightforward projects, by the end of this meeting, we will have a strategy for your project and know that it is broadly feasible for the budget available. Afterwards, we will write up our discussions and send it to you as a formal document. The site visit and document are both free of charge and without obligation.

“Communion spent a lot of time understanding what we wanted, which was good. They didn’t just understand it, they took it one step further with practical flourishes and creative flourishes.”

On larger or more complex projects, we undertake what we call Testing the Principle. This is a separate, chargeable piece of work that assesses the strength of the project and allows you to make an informed decision about how to take it to the next stage.

Testing the Principle considers the legal, financial and practical considerations involved.

This includes:

  • agreeing the challanges that will need to be addressed and how they will impact on the project.
  • establishing the spaces that are required.
  • considering the planning and legal constraints.
  • planning the likely timescales.
  • listening to your needs, wants and desires and making note where these conflict with other issues.
  • advising on budgets and helping you to prioritise what is truly important to the project.

Once you have this information and you have decided you would like to work with us, we will move to Stage One.

Find out what happens at Stage One