In the beginning
Fraher & Findlay
By Lizzie
May 2019

Fresh Faced
Myself and Joe in 2009, in our first profile shot.
So this is the first journal entry that we are making as the merged Design & Build & Beyond practice. We have been talking about design, the team, our projects and wider architecture themed topics for the last decade, but we wanted to formalise our experience and ideas into a series of journal entries that we hope you find helpful and interesting.
So what to talk about? Where to start?

The beginning of this new business, and why after over 10 years of running the architectural practice we are evolving and expanding to create a new business service.

At the core of our studio values, is to act with honesty, integrity and transparency, therefore what follows is going to be a very honest of account of Fraher & Findlay: what we have learnt from Fraher and what we want our future to be. Most importantly why we strongly believe this is the right change for us, for our business and for our Clients.

Quality Chop Shop
We have been delivering architectural projects across London for over ten years now. The practice was formed how most domestic residential architecture studios start… a leap of faith, a private job, a computer, a bedroom and in our case, a redundancy after the big crash of 2008. Our one and only project (The Jewel Box) was so important to us, we threw everything we had into it.

The success of this project led to a trickle effect of more and more project work, where the practice fulfilled both mine and Joe's time 24/7. We strongly believe the ball kept rolling due to the fact that we grabbed every single opportunity no matter how small or large, working our socks off, making each project count in some shape or form and a large dose of youthfulness naivety.

This ambition and commitment is something that we continue to harbour and undoubtedly what has given us the strength and confidence to focus on a new form of architectural delivery for our business.

In another journal entry I think it is important to look back at key projects, consider what we have learnt from them and how they have each individually helped to form our business. Joe thinks I reflect too much on the past, he only looks forward - creates an interesting leadership dynamic for our team!"
A major strength in our business over the past decade is the working relationship between myself and Joe. I have always overseen the design and planning in the studio and how this translates onto site, and Joe is in his element on site. Between the two of us, we cover all bases of the architectural delivery experience, which gives the practice a flexibility and fluidity to deal with most briefs and responds to most Clients needs.

Throughout, we have continued to problem solve and learn. Made mistakes, made those mistakes good and have learnt from them. Whilst we have worked hard on our projects we have come across the same age old frictions that we are consciously addressing in our business:

Friction 1: How to manage client expectations for what can be an expensive and complicated experience whilst designing and delivering a complex building project.

Friction 2: How to give clarity to projects costs from early in the design stages.

Friction 3: How to get our Clients to trust us… we work hard at this but often it takes a while to gain the trust.

Friction 4: Having no visibility of who is going to be the builder until into the advanced stages of the pre construction design.

Friction 5: Having a contractor under price and assure the delivery of a project for the set figure.

Friction 6: Having a third party consultant or Contractor's performance negatively impact on your services and delivery of a project.
The Cooks Kitchen 2013
So since 2014 we started to deliver a small handful of discreet projects on site for a particular Client that was open to this form or working. This lead to Findlay Construction being set up as a delivery arm for smaller projects.

By 2018 we had delivered 4-5 project in house and we were challenged with how to ensure the longer term succession of the architectural business. (Very few architectural businesses have a succession plan)

We had already organically been running a business that was Design and Build with the nature of mine and Joe's relationship, but this had not been formalized into a professional service for our Clients.

We reflected and agreed that the following beliefs were important to how we wanted to deliver the studio's work and this has evolved architectural practice into a design and build offering.
The Architect and Contract partnership should be exactly that. Working collaboratively for a common goal. Business, delivery and design interested aligned to make projects happen. The traditional role of project delivery with the Architect operating separately to the contractor and only bringing the Contractor to the table late in the day does not set up the project in the healthiest environment possible.

Cost visibility and an understanding from the very beginning of what things costs is crucial. To not only manage expectations but to also prioritize works and make the design smarter in response to the clear constraints of a project.

Transparency is key. We have no interest in hiding margin, believing something can be built for an unrealistic price and a project delivered to an unfeasible timescale. All of this is communicated openly at the beginning of a project.

Open tendering does not bring the best results, it presents situations where you see and hear what you want to see and hear.

Risk is nothing to be scared of if you adopt it and manage it rather than to push it onto someone else's plate.

So all the above makes sense, yes?
In order to deliver this service we have brought in an experienced senior level team of directors that are helping us to build this build experience in addition to our fantastic architecture and build teams. A large focus of this business development is in integrating tech more into our operations. We are working on some exciting platforms in the studio that help us to address the above functions and will help us to deliver our projects as brilliantly as possible and help other design professionals to do the same.

So big change a foot, exciting projects in the pipeline and whilst there is a lot to do… it feels like a big weight has been lifted off our shoulders and we feel really excited about the future of the business.
If you are interested in speaking to us about our Architect Led Design and Build Service please contact us in the studio on 020 8291 6947 or

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Journal - In the Beginning - Fraher & Findlay.