The RIBA Plan of Work 2020

May 7, 2021

RIBA work stage 5

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work is an industry standard document outlining the process of briefing, designing, constructing, and operating building projects.

Established in 1956 The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has set out a route map for all building projects to follow from start to finish. It is a flexible plan that will differ from project to project as each site will hold its own complexities. At the time of writing the current RIBA plan is the 2020 Plan.

The document is broken into 8 clear stages which define the stage outcomes, core tasks, and information exchanges required at each stage. The stages involved are broken into:

Stage 0: Strategic Definition
Stage 1: Preparation and Briefing
Stage 2: Concept Design
Stage 3: Spatial Coordination
Stage 4: Technical Design
Stage 5: Manufacturing and Construction
Stage 6: Handover
Stage 7: Use

The main goal of Stage 0 is for the client team to strategically identify the best means of achieving the client requirements.

Project scope:
What type of project is best suited to your aspirations and site? An extension, a new build, or a refurbishment?

Project timescales:
What is your preferred timescale for completion and are there any defining milestones we need to meet? For example, planning within a certain timescale in order to release funding?

Project budget:
What is your rough project budget you would feel comfortable with to deliver the client requirements? Early stages it's likely that this would take a very high-level approach to cost such as a cost per square metre rate.

Project sustainability goals:
Are there any sustainable goals or benchmarks the client would like to reach in this project?

+ Prepare Client Requirements
+ Develop Business Case for feasible options including review of Project Risks and Project Budget
+ Ratify option that best delivers Client Requirements
+ Review Feedback from previous projects
+ Undertake Site Appraisals
+ Define a project programme

RIBA work stages

Stage 1 is typically when an architect is brought on board. We would help you to develop and define a project brief and conduct an initial site analysis to understand the site context and ensure the brief can be accommodated on the site.

Depending on the project, it may be worth undertaking an early pre-application with the local authority to understand the feasibility of the project early on in the process before too much work is undertaken. Alongside this, it may also be worth testing the feasibility studies against a QS cost report to ensure the project budget is a realistic expectation.

One of the key tasks here is to assemble a project team and define each party’s roles and responsibilities.

+ Prepare Project Brief
+ Undertake feasibility studies
+ Agree on a project budget or route forward to define one
+ Source site information including surveys
+ Prepare project programme
+ Prepare project execution plan
+ Pre-application advice
+ Define a project team and responsibilities

Stage 0

At stage 2, initial concept drawings are tabled to the client and relevant stakeholders. Here is the first chance to review the designs and comment on the design progress and spatial layouts.

Alongside client review meetings, the team will usually be liaising with both the quantity surveyor to produce cost plans which manage your cost risk, and also we will be consulting with the local authority for a pre-application meeting to manage your planning risk.

+ Architectural conceptual drawings
+ Cost plan
+ Undertake design reviews
+ Update project programme
+ Preapplication advice with planning department
+ Visualisations

RIBA stage 2

At stage 3, all the feedback collated in stage 2 is integrated into the designs, and planning is submitted to the local authority for approval.

+ Integration of feedback from clients
+ Integration of feedback from planning department
+ Integration of feedback from cost consultant
+ Initiate change control procedures
+ Update project programme
+ Planning submission

RIBA stage 3

At stage 4, the design is technically developed through detailed design to meet building regulations and allow us to compile a tender document set. This will typically include a thorough drawing package showing how the roof, floor, and wall interfaces meet ensuring clarity of quality, pricing, and buildability for the contractor and client alike. A detailed specification of the works is usually produced in line to complete a robust design package.

The design is also developed and coordinated alongside the relevant design team consultants such as structures and services engineers to ensure a complete picture is given to the client, contractor, and building inspector.

Simultaneously, planning conditions are discharged.

+ Develop architectural and engineering technical design.
+ Prepare and integrate specialist subcontractor systems
+ Coordinate design information between all relevant contractors.

Reigate-Architect-Manor-Road (2)

At stage 5, the project is tendered, and works start on site. Your appointed contract administrator will help set up a contract between you and the chosen contractor before conducting regular certificates to sign off the works.

During stage 5, construction drawings are typically produced alongside the contractor or by the subcontractor team which defines exactly what will be built.

+ Tender the project out to several contractors.
+ Monitor progress against the construction programme.
+ Inspect construction quality.
+ Resolve site queries as required.
+ Construction drawings

JCT contract

At stage 6, the building is handed over. This will usually involve an extensive snagging process to ensure all the completed works are up to standard and any defects are rectified. Typically a retention fee is retained for 1-year post-occupation to ensure the works are still up to standard a year after handover.

+ Handover building
+ Snagging
+ Rectify defects
+ Post occupancy evaluation


At stage 7, the building is in use and the maintenance of the building is in place.

+ Facilities management
+ Post occupancy evaluation

Bromley extension

So although there's a prescriptive route map set out by the RIBA, the model is a flexible structure to enable you and your architect to progress through the building stages in a clear and structured manner. Bear in mind, that every project differs, so the work stages and their deliverables will flex subject to your project needs. If you'd like to find out more about the RIBA plan of works, you can find it here or feel free to get in touch with us.