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RIBA Stages

All construction projects follow the RIBA Stages 0-7.
Please see a summary below of what happens at each stage.
Further information can be found at: https://www.ribaplanofwork.com

Stage 0. Strategic Definition

Stage 0 is used to ensure that the client’s Business Case and the Strategic Brief have been properly considered before the Initial Project Brief is developed.

The Strategic Brief may require a review of a number of sites or alternative options, such as extensions, refurbishment or new build. By asking the right questions, the consultants, in collaboration with the client, can properly define the scope for a project, and the preparation and briefing process can then begin.

Stage 1. Preparation and Brief

Several significant and parallel activities need to be carried out during Stage 1 to ensure that the Concept Design process is as productive as possible. These split broadly into two categories:

  • developing the Initial Project Brief and any related Feasibility Studies
  • assembling the project team and defining each party’s roles and responsibilities and the Information Exchanges.

The preparation of the Initial Project Brief is the most important task undertaken during Stage 1. The time required to prepare it will depend on the complexity of the project.
When preparing the Initial Project Brief, it is necessary to consider:

  • the project’s spatial requirements — the desired Project Outcomes, which may be derived following Feedback from earlier and similar projects
  • the site or context, by undertaking site appraisals and collating Site Information, including building surveys
  • the budget.

Stage 2. Concept Design

During Stage 2, the initial Concept Design is produced in line with the requirements of the Initial Project Brief.

The project team also develops a number of Project Strategies. Their importance at this stage will depend on how they are to influence the Concept Design. For example, the Sustainability Strategy is likely to be a fundamental component of the Concept Design, whereas a security strategy may have minimal or no impact and can therefore be developed during a later stage.

It is essential to revisit the brief during this stage and it should be updated and issued as the Final Project Brief as part of the Information Exchange at the end of Stage 2.

Stage 3. Developed Design

During this stage, the Concept Design is further developed and, the design work of the core designers is progressed until the spatial coordination exercises have been completed. This process may require a number of iterations of the design and different tools may be used, including design workshops.

RIBA Stage 3 is usually when planning permission is applied for. Listed Building Consent may also be required.

By the end of Stage 3, the architectural, building services and structural engineering designs will all have been developed. The lead designer will have checked and coordinate the design and Project Strategies, with the Cost Information aligned to the Project Budget.

A Change Control Procedure should be implemented to ensure that any changes to the Concept Design are properly considered and signed off, regardless of how they are instigated.

While specialist subcontractors will undertake their design work at Stage 4, they may provide information and guidance at Stage 3 in order to facilitate a more robust developed design.

Stage 4. Technical Design

The architectural, building services and structural engineering designs are now further refined to provide technical definition of the project and the design work of specialist subcontractors is developed and concluded. The level of detail produced by each designer will depend on whether the construction on site will be built in accordance with the information produced by the design team or based on information developed by a specialist subcontractor. The Design Responsibility Matrix sets out how these key design interfaces will be managed.
Using the design coordinated during the previous stage, the designers should now be able to develop their Technical Designs independently, with a degree of autonomy. The lead designer will provide input to certain aspects, including a review of each designer’s work.

The output at this stage is a full set of Technical drawings and specifications for Building Control Approval, Tender and Construction.

Stage 5. Construction

During this stage, the building is constructed on site in accordance with the Construction Programme. Construction includes the erection of components that have been fabricated off site.
The procurement strategy and/or the designer’s specific Schedule of Services will have set out the designer’s duties to respond to Design Queries from site generated in relation to the design, to carry out site inspections and to produce quality reports.
The output of this stage is the ‘As Constructed’ information.

Stage 6. Handover and Close Out

The project team’s priorities during this stage will be facilitating the successful handover of the building in line with the Project Programme and, in the period immediately following, concluding all aspects of the Building Contract, including the inspection of defects as they are rectified or the production of certification required by the Building Contract.
Other services may also be required during this period. These will be dictated by project specific Schedules of Services, which should be aligned with the procurement and Handover Strategies. Tasks in relation to the Handover Strategy can be wide-ranging and may include:

  • attending Feedback workshops — considering how any lessons learned might be applied on future projects
  • undertaking tasks in relation to commissioning or ensuring the successful operation and management of the building.

Stage 7. In Use

This stage acknowledges the benefits of harnessing the project design information to assist with the successful operation and use of a building.


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