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RIBA Stage 5: An architect’s guide to construction

Let’s take a closer look at arguably the most exciting stage of the process - construction!

31 January 2024
3 minutes read
Construction professional in safety gear inspecting the overhead framework in a room under renovation, with tools and building materials visible in the background, emphasizing workplace safety and attention to detail in construction.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to turn architectural plans into a solid, standing structure? 

This is exactly what happens in RIBA Stage 5. It's the stage where designs transition from paper to the physical world, a pivotal moment in the life of any building project.

This is when the construction team, led by experienced contractors, project managers and architects - and guided by the detailed construction plans and specifications - come together to bring the project to life.

In this article, we're going to break down the complexities of this stage, highlighting the importance of clear communication, stringent quality control, and effective project management. 

Join us as we explore RIBA Stage 5, a fundamental part of the RIBA Plan of Work, and see how it plays a crucial role in transforming architectural visions into real, functional buildings and creative revanotions. 

Let’s begin.

Hand flipping through the RIBA Plan of Work 2020 document showing detailed project stages from Strategic Definition to Use, providing a comprehensive guide for architecture and construction project management.

What is RIBA Stage 5?

RIBA Stage 5, known as the ‘Construction and Manufacturing’ stage, is where planning and preparation meet execution. It involves the direct application of the project's design, ensuring that construction adheres to the planned specifications, quality standards, and sustainability goals. 

This stage is essential for realising the envisioned structure, whether it's a new build or a renovation project, and requires effective coordination and quality control to ensure successful project completion.

Your building contract

Before venturing into the dynamic world of RIBA Stage 5, it’s important to acknowledge the importance of a well-structured building contract. This legal agreement serves as the compass that guides the entire construction journey, setting the course for clear expectations, responsibilities, and outcomes. 

Remember: a meticulously crafted building contract defines the project scope, budget, timeline, quality standards, and the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved. It acts as the foundation upon which trust and accountability are built. 

With a comprehensive building contract in place before the construction phase begins, all stakeholders have access to a detailed roadmap that not only mitigates potential disputes but also ensures the project proceeds smoothly and efficiently.

At our architectural firm, we believe contracts are the cornerstone of successful construction endeavours. We always go the extra mile to assist our clients in selecting the most appropriate Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) contracts, which are widely recognised and respected in the construction industry.

Hand turning a page in the RIBA Plan of Work 2020 guidebook, showing details of Stage 5: Manufacturing and Construction, outlining the strategic project considerations, tasks, and management processes in architectural and construction planning.

Building to last

In RIBA Stage 5 - the construction phase - the overarching emphasis is on creating structures and renovations that are highly functional and built to last. 

This stage is defined by a trio of fundamental pillars: sustainable building practices, durability and safety, and stringent compliance with standards. 

Here’s a closer look at each:

Sustainable building practices

  • Eco-friendly construction methods: Adopting sustainable construction techniques is at the forefront of our approach. These methods are designed to reduce the environmental footprint of the building process, encompassing everything from the efficient use of resources to minimising waste.
  • Sustainable materials: The selection of eco-friendly materials is a deliberate choice aimed at reducing the environmental impact. These materials are chosen for their sustainability credentials, including their sourcing, longevity, and recyclability.
  • Energy efficiency: Features that enhance energy efficiency are integrated into both the design and construction stages. This includes considerations like natural lighting, thermal insulation and the use of renewable energy sources, contributing to a building that is not only environmentally responsible but also cost-effective in the long run.

Durability and safety

  • Structural integrity: The focus is on creating structures that are robust and enduring. This involves the use of high-quality materials and construction techniques that ensure the building’s longevity.
  • Safety first approach: Every phase of construction is underscored by a commitment to safety. This encompasses not just the safety of the construction workers but also the future occupants of the building.
  • User-centric design: The design and construction take into account the diverse needs of its users, ensuring that the building is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, comfortable, and safe for everyone.

Upholding regulations and quality

  • Adherence to building regulations: Compliance with building regulations plans and safety standards is not negotiable. Every step of the construction process is in strict alignment with these regulations, ensuring the building is legally compliant and structurally sound.
  • Quality control: Rigorous quality control measures are implemented throughout the construction phase. These measures ensure that every aspect of the building, from the foundations to the finishes, meets or exceeds the highest industry standards.
  • Audits: The focus on producing a structure of the highest quality and compliance is fortified by an ongoing regimen of thorough audits and testing. This vigilant process is critical in certifying that every facet of the construction — from practices and procedures to materials used — adheres to the prescribed standards and regulations.

Your architect's involvement

In RIBA Stage 5, your architect is not merely an observer; they are an integral player, deeply involved in steering the project in alignment with your aspirations.

Here’s an overview of what their role will likely look like at this point:

Vision alignment

The architect's primary role during construction is to ensure that the building that rises from the ground mirrors the vision you've dreamt of. They are your vision’s guardian, ensuring every brick laid and beam erected resonates with your original concept.

Design integrity

The intricacies of the design developed during the earlier stages of RIBA Plan of Work are brought to life under the watchful eye of your architect. Their expertise is critical in maintaining the design’s integrity, ensuring that the nuances and subtleties of the plan are realised in physical form.

Team coordination

The architect acts as a pivotal link between you, the construction team, and other stakeholders. They facilitate collaboration, ensuring every team member’s work aligns with the overarching design goals.

Transparent communication

Keeping you informed and involved is a priority. The architect ensures a transparent flow of information, providing updates and insights, which allows for your informed input and keeps you connected to the project's progress.

Timely adjustments

Construction is a dynamic and evolving process. Your architect’s proactive involvement means they are well-positioned to make immediate decisions and adjustments, seamlessly integrating changes without derailing the project's timeline or compromising the design.

Regular site visits and meetings

By having a consistent presence on-site and actively participating in meetings, your architect will remain acutely aware of the project's pulse. This hands-on approach enables them to anticipate challenges, offer solutions, and make informed decisions that keep the project on track.

Financial stewardship

When renovating a property or building a new house, managing the financial aspects is so important. Experienced architects and contractor administrators understand that the focus extends far beyond the mere act of building; it encompasses the responsibility of constructing responsibly while remaining steadfast within the boundaries of your financial parameters.

A diverse team of RIBA chartered architects reviewing a building plan in a well-lit office, with a computer screen displaying a 3D architectural model in the background, indicative of a collaborative design review meeting.

How Urbanist Architecture can help you build with minimal stress

With our dedication to ensuring a collaborative journey through every phase of RIBA work stages over the last decade, we have garnered significant expertise in the realm of hands-on construction monitoring.

We are renowned for our ability to adeptly steer projects through the intricacies of the construction phase, skillfully sidestepping common pitfalls that may emerge during this critical part of the project journey.

If you're seeking a multidisciplinary team of London architects who can draw on their experience to help you avoid any possible issues that may arise onsite, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.

Robin Callister, Creative Director and Senior Architect at Urbanist Architecture
AUTHOR

Robin Callister

Robin is our creative director, guiding our architectural team with the wisdom of more than 20 years of experience. He takes the lead on new-build apartment blocks, one-off houses and Green Belt projects.

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