RIBA Work Stages Explained

RIBA Work Stages

The RIBA plan of work was revised in 2013 and comprises of eight separate work stages that each address a required phase of a construction projects progression, from inception through to completion.

Each stage has clear tasks and outputs, which offer as both a process map and a management tool. This helps to ensure that work is carried out and completed to the high professional standard that is expected and described here.

Whilst an architect is not obligated to use this plan, it has become a sort of unofficial industry standard. 

Understanding the RIBA work stages

It’s worth noting that since 2013 the plan of work has been significantly amended, and now:

  • Permits for more than just the traditional method of procurement.
  • Allows for more diverse roles and teams.
  • Has introduced a new stage both before design and after construction.

The work stages have also been renamed and restructured from the 2007 alphabetised version to the now numerical system shown below:

0 – Strategic definition. (New addition)

1 – Preparation and brief.

2 – Concept design.

3 – Developed design.

4 – Technical design.

5 – Construction.

6 – Handover and close out.

7 – In use. (New addition)

Archisoup-what-are-riba-work-stages-architect-self-build-selfbuild-advise-find-2013 riba plan of work.jpg

It is worth noting that although this updated version now supersedes the 2007 edition, many architects and construction professionals still prefer to use the old system as it is felt that it still better reflects the terminology that is used within the industry.

So to allow for an easy comparison, the below diagram shows how both the new and the old systems relate to each other, followed by a description of each stage.

Storm Cottage by  Fearon Hay Architects , Photography by Patrick Reynolds

Stage 0

This is the first of the two new stages introduced into the 2013 edition, which strategically appraises and defines the project before a detailed design brief is created, for example in the context of sustainability, a refurbishment and/or extension may be more appropriate than a new build.

Stage 1 / Stages A and B

This stage deals with developing the initial project brief and any related feasibility studies to help enable the development of the concept design. It also involves the ‘preparation tasks’ such as assembling the project team and defining each party’s roles and responsibilities.

Stage 2 / Stage C

Here, the initial concept design is produced in line with the design brief established in stage 1, and presented to the client. This is likely to be the first time they will see what the architect is proposing and as long as the briefing process was carried out and communicated correctly, it should be a very exciting meeting.


Stage 3 / Stage D and E (in part)

The concept design from stage 2 is further developed to meet the clients requirements in terms of liveability and how they propose to use the new spaces. Once completed, the planning drawings and documents (if required) will be drafted and submitted to the local authority for approval.

Once approved, the building services and structural engineers design will begin development and enable a closer cost and project budget analysis.

Stage 4 / Stage E (in part) and F

The structural and building services packages are further refined allowing for any specialist sub-contractor design to be carried out, such as sustainable energies. The architect will consult with the local building regulations officer and prepare the detailed design package showing how roof, wall, floor and opening junctions meet along with the specification.

The specification is best thought of as a recipe for how the building goes together, and will contain every essential ingredient to enable the contractor/builder to build the required proposed design.

At the end of this stage, traditionally the project will be issued to the chosen group of contractors/builders for tender (normally a four to six week period).

Stage 4 (in part) / Stage G, H and J

Once the tenders are received, the quotations will be assessed and analysed before one is chosen ready to start the construction work stage.


Stage 5 / Stage J and K

During this stage the building is constructed in line with the drawings and information produced in the previous stages, and as described here will often be administered by the architect, helping to ensure a smooth construction process.

Stage 6 / Stage L

This stage facilitates the successful handover of the newly completed building, and involves the inspection of the completed works and any defects to be rectified before the production of certification required by the chosen build contract.

Stage 7

This is the second of the two new stages introduced in 2013 to the programme of works and involves a post-occupancy evaluation, covering the projects performance, outcomes and development …it is essentially an aftercare service.


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