Janine Stone’s Jeremy Spencer on getting the right team for your project, and keeping the client at the epicentre

Jeremy Spencer of Janine Stone tells Country Life’s Giles Kime why collaboration is key to the success of an architectural project.

The greatest houses ever built are the product not only of brilliant design, a beautiful setting and exquisite craftsmanship but also the result of teamwork between architects, builders and, of course, clients. Orchestrating these different elements doesn’t merely require experience, contacts and communication, it also involves a process that will guarantee that all the different skill sets dovetail together perfectly at each stage.

Not only will this deliver the best outcome, it will also ensure that a project is completed on budget. For anyone embarking on this exciting journey, an understanding of their role, as well as the roles of those who will work with them, is vital and will create a distinctive, high-quality home, individually tailored to their life.

With their long experience creating, refurbishing and restoring some of the world’s most exceptional family homes, the team at Janine Stone understand this journey better than anyone. Here, Jeremy Spencer shares the secret of great teamwork.

If some of the best houses are the result of a great relationship between an architect, interior designer and builder, what role does the client play?

You will be the epicentre of the project. Your design ambition, personal priorities and level of involvement will form the defining criteria of the project. The service you will receive will be tailored to you.

People can commit different amounts of time to a project. How involved will the client be?

You may rely on your architect or design company to form a team and advise on all design matters, inspire you and create a vision of your new home in all its aspects. Or you may want to help create and be involved in many aspects of the design personally—or a balance in-between. The multi disciplinary interior, architectural and contracting team at Janine Stone can give your project a head start.

Who does the team include?

The defining structure, roles and responsibilities of the project team should be agreed at the preparation and briefing stage, before the concept design. To realise a well-conceived design, you may need the collaboration of an architect, interior and landscape designers, plus structural, mechanical, electrical, lighting and audio-visual engineers, to name a few.

The information gathered from a feasibility study, surveys, sustainability strategy, budget, local planning, site context, cost, size and time priorities forms the parameters of the design. Good creative collaboration achieves good design. The pre-existing collaboration of a multi-disciplinary team gives a clearer pathway to a project.

How is planning handled?

At this early stage, pre-application collaboration with the local authority may increase the likelihood of their support and guide the design. As the design process evolves, a cost exercise can be estimated more clearly by a quantity surveyor in close collaboration with the design team. At Janine Stone, this collaboration already exists and simplifies the process for the client.

If the project requires planning or Listed Building approval, or it’s in a conservation area, a formal application needs to be submitted. The time following a submission is often a key decision and risk moment for the project—whether to wait for the approvals to come through. It is sometimes difficult to know you want something that doesn’t yet exist, but your trust in the collaborative process is key.

What’s the next stage after planning?

Detailed or technical design is the next phase that often involves approaching specialist subcontractors, cabinet-makers, joiners, stone masons, special-finishes experts, craftsmen, and ironmongery and sanitaryware specialist suppliers, as well as refining the design and costs. Janine Stone’s multidisciplinary approach can make your decisions and choices more streamlined.

Preparing for a tender or getting ready to create the design while waiting for the approvals may speed up the project, but is a risk if the design needs to be changed to achieve the necessary permissions. Good collaboration can reduce or determine this risk. With collaboration, the design may change, but the original brief and objectives should always be revisited.

What are the team dynamics like, once building starts?

When construction starts, a new collaboration arises between client, builder and design team. At Janine Stone this relationship already exists and as programme, quality and cost are often the key parameters, it has been part of the strategy since inception. If the builder has already been selected for the project and is already part of the team, then stage four and five can meld to achieve time efficiencies and early commitment and contribution from the specialists. This should be a decision made at the realisation of the building project, when choosing the convenience of a multi-disciplinary team can save time and create peace of mind.

Projects that have been completely designed before building starts are rare, as some design decisions and collaborations can legitimately coincide with the construction in a well planned site operation. The time when key designs and operations happen on site should be well programmed to slot in when appropriate. Innovation and bespoke creations always take time. The Janine Stone team brings the disciplines together to consider all aspects of the project holistically.

When does the lucky client get the key?

The handover phase of a house includes rectifying any defects and concluding all aspects of the contract. The systems often require close collaboration with the specialist installers and suppliers. Aftercare and a good maintenance schedule is often set up during the process so that the fruits of the collaborative process can be enjoyed at their best for years to come.

Janine Stone & Co specialises in building and renovating residential projects, incorporating architecture, interior design and construction management, and has been providing Country Life with professional insights through this ‘Masterclass’ series for the past few months. To speak with Janine Stone & Co about your project, please telephone 020–7349 8888 or visit www.janinestone.com