The advantages of working with Moon Build

Modern new build house with two pitched roofs

The advantages of working with Moon Build


Having worked as Bristol’s premier design & build business for the past 20 years, we recently concluded that there is an even better service model we can offer. 

Separating the Design function from the Build gives you total flexibility, you are in control. You can either appoint Moon Design to produce all the design & technical information for your project and then work with any builder you choose, or if you like the idea of working with Moon Build you can engage them earlier in the process and take advantage of a more joined up approach.  

Modern new build house with two pitched roofs

Why separate designer and builder?

We believe that independence between the designer and the builder is crucial for two reasons:

The first is that it establishes creative freedom. There is a big difference between someone simply producing the drawings required to build your project, and a truly creative process with an experienced designer working in a creative environment; exploring design options that are right for you.

The second reason is that it fosters a healthy conflict between the architect and the builder. The design solution should be about you and your aspirations, not just how to make the project easier to build for the advantage of the builder.

Understanding the budget earlier in the process

Once Moon Design have produced the concept designs, Moon Build can provide a Preliminary Budget based on these designs and your project brief. This will give you a good understanding of the overall budget and will help you and Moon Design to develop your scheme. You then have the option to appoint Moon Build on the basis of this budget.

Timescales & Certainty

Appointing Moon Build at this earlier stage will reduce the timescales of the project considerably. It will give you more certainty of the site start date and provide you with the security of having a high quality contractor booked in. If you decide to go to a conventional tender, you will not be able to secure a slot in a contractor’s programme until you have accepted their tender return, adding as much as 12-18 weeks to the process.

A more joined up offering

If Moon Build are appointed earlier in the process, they can start to work with you during the Planning application period to help you to make choices regarding all of the interior fixtures and fittings, working to the overall design intent provided by Moon Design.

Appointing the same people to provide the internal fittings specification as those who will be delivering it on the ground creates a more efficient process, clarifies responsibility and you are able to take advantage of their knowledge and experience of delivering hundreds of projects similar to yours.

Moon Build are also able to provide a very cost-effective solution when supplying the fixtures & fittings, due to the discounts they have negotiated with their suppliers over the years.

We have worked together on over 400 projects; we are cut from the same cloth. They have a track record of delivering extremely high-quality projects and they understand design detailing and design intent. Moon Design will be available to answer any of their design queries during the build.

The Risk factor

As you can hopefully now see, the appointment of Moon Build earlier in the process provides a lot of advantages. However, as would be the case with any procurement route, appointing the contractor early in the process, before all of the project drawings and specifications have been prepared, creates a level of uncertainty around the final budget. Any contractor will have a hard time providing a 100% accurate price without all of the project information in front of them.

Our joined up approach seeks to minimise this risk, by ensuring that concept level drawings prepared by Moon Design are rooted in the reality of having delivered over 400 projects across the whole property spectrum. This enables Moon Build to deliver a more reliable Preliminary Budget and reduce cost surprises further down the line.

Crittall internal doors
Wood being planed in workshop

Moon Workshop

Moon Workshop is a design-led joinery business. They work directly with clients as the specialist principle fit out contractor, or as a sub-contractor to other main contractors or developers working on high end projects.  

Dedicated to design   

Moon Workshop can collaborate with interior designers and architects, or provide a full turn-key solution with their Moon Workshop Design Studio acting as the project designer.   

Good design goes well beyond how something looks and works. Good design considers how it will be made, cost effectiveness, how easily it can be fitted, best use of materials and how long it will last. 

Their in-house design team are dedicated to good design and consider the whole picture. From concept to fitting, working in 2D and 3D to communicate the design intent.  

They can either work with your design and develop it into workshop production drawings, or can work with you to develop concepts and provide a full design service. 

The workshop 

The Workshop is what makes it all possible. Our workshop is located in a modern warehouse in Avonmouth, Bristol. Over the years we’ve invested considerably in modern tooling and a large spray finishing facility for painted and lacquered finishes. 

Working directly with clients they can provide bespoke kitchens, fitted & freestanding furniture and commercial fits outs. 

Crittall internal doors

Our open plan meeting room space

New Moon Base

After 10 years at our lovely office on Sutherland Place, we have moved to our new office on Whiteladies Road.

106 Whiteladies Road is a Grade II listed building, purpose-built as a bank in 1906 by Nat West. The building featured a large banking hall on the ground floor, and a two-storey maisonette on the upper floors – most probably for the long-departed Bank Manager’s use.

Following the development of the upper floors into a luxury 3 bedroom apartment by Moon HOME, we moved into the ground floor to create two high-quality office spaces.

Our design approach blends the best of the past with the best of the present. Taking advantage of the 7.5m high banking hall, creating a stunning double height atrium which each office space looks into through frameless glass screens from both the ground floor and mezzanine levels.

Bespoke display shelvingLobby space with artistic pendant lights

We’ve created an informal, flexible and modern workspace where employees and clients can grab a coffee and discuss projects in a relaxed creative environment, either in our dedicated client meeting space, or collaboratively around our large communal meeting table. The open plan office space on the first floor is where we work collectively on each of our projects.

Designing creative spaces people want to spend time in and feel happy in is at the heart of what we do, our new office reflects this. We want to attract the very best people to work here and having a great place to work helps that.

We hope you will like it as much as we do.

Open shelf kitchen and coffee station
Modern glazed timber box extension

Fee Proposal

Our design services are underpinned by over 400 completed projects as a design & build business. Experience acquired across the past 20 years. 

Drawing on this knowledge, we’ve created a competitive and affordable fee structure that’s based on efficient design service. We intrinsically understand how projects are built and how much they cost. So we don’t waste time developing designs that can’t be delivered in the real world.  

We’ve broken our fee structure into separate stages of the design process. This means you can choose the stages you want. You will only be charged for the work we undertake.  

Modern terrace with city views

How do we calculate our fees? 

All of our fees are based on time. We estimate the time required based on previous projects and experience. This allowance will reflect the scale and complexity of the project. 

The fee is broken into clearly defined stages, outlining what you will receive at each stage. The initial fee proposal will be provided after our first site meeting or telephone call. But, once we have a more detailed brief, this fee is subject to change.  

What do traditional architectural practices charge? 

You might expect to pay an architect around 7-10% of the project’s total construction cost (not including any project management, contract administration or interior design).  

We calculate our fees on a time basis. Like-for-like, our total project fees typically end up being around 5-6% of the total construction cost. But this does not include any detailed Interior Architecture package. 

Balconies and glass extensions

How are you able to offer lower design fees than a traditional architectural practice? 

Because of our experience delivering over 400 projects. It manifests in two key ways: 

  • We understand how much it costs to build things and what works on the ground – so avoid wasting time designing details that will need to be redrawn to meet building regulations or when a structural engineer gets involved.
  • We have a huge catalogue of design details that we can draw upon – saving time instead of reinventing the wheel.
Crittall internal doors

Types and amounts of projects completed

Our Track Record

A track record to be proud of

We been around for a while now and we’ve done a lot. It’s this track record that makes us who we are today, sometimes it’s good to look back.

Our track record…

Types and amounts of projects completed
Rooflight detail

Not your typical Architectural Studio

How does working with Moon DESIGN differ from appointing a standard local architectural practice?

It’s close to their offering. But there are some big differences.

The typical issues that we hear from people who have appointed a local architect are:

“They came up with a lovely design, but when we got it priced by a builder it was way over our budget. We had to go back to the drawing board, resulting in more fees”

Having delivered over 400 projects, we know a thing or two about the cost implications of design solutions. We don’t design in a cost vacuum. We aim to marry, as best we can, the design solution with your budget.

Double height kitchen with bookcase design

“Our building contractor found the drawings difficult to follow and often impossible to execute”

Again, our heritage as builders as well as designers means that the knowledge of how buildings are constructed is embedded deep within our DNA. After all, it’s your home and project, not a test ground for unproved details or a portfolio piece for us.

“They weren’t very interested in the interior aspects”

It is quite common for architectural practices avoiding getting too involved with the interior architecture. Our history tells us that this is the aspect our clients are often most excited by. Moon DESIGN provide a full interior architecture service.

Rear timber extension with raised terrace

“They weren’t able to give me a good indication of the project costs at the concept stage”

Providing an estimate or budget requires a wealth of experience of delivering projects on the ground. Moon has this experience and can offer a Budget Review service after the concept stage to help guide the design development.

“Their fee was based on the build cost which meant their fees were very high”

We have never really understood this traditional approach to fees for domestic projects. We work on a time basis and a fee that is based on what each individual client needs. By breaking up the fee into bite-sized chunks we can provide a bespoke fee structure to reflect the services you need; not a catch-all service that means you pay for services you don’t need. Think of it as a ‘pay as you go’ fee structure.

Four tread winder stair

Appointing your Structural Engineer

The majority of projects undertaken by Moon DESIGN require the services of a Structural Engineer.

Structural Engineers design and size structural elements such as foundations, steel beams and columns, Glulam and timber beams, sometimes designing more complex padstone and connection details. They will assess the safety, strength, and durability of the structure. They also provide the calculations for Building Control.

You appoint the Structural Engineer directly, this creates a sound contractual relationship between you and them and allows you to have an on-going relationship with them if needed as your project progresses through the construction phase. Moon do not leave you to search the internet to find a suitable company, we have done this for you. They will invoice you directly for their services.

We have built good working relationships with several different tried and tested Structural Engineering companies. Sometimes we ask two or three to provide a fee quote for their services, but on some occasions we choose who we think is best suited to the type of project and its structural complexity, and who will find the most appropriate solution. Who can best conform to the time scale, and geographical location also play a part in the choice.

Moon’s design and construction knowledge means that we can establish the principals of the design solution and structural member sizes, this allows our brief to the Structural Engineer to often resolve most of the issues thus making the Engineers work easier and more cost effective.

We periodically check our pool of engineers for good value against the marketplace, and they have proven they are good value and provide the right level of service. They are not the cheapest, as we believe the cheapest doesn’t represent good value in either time or energy. Cheap fees tend to result in a clumsy and more expensive design solution that ends up impacting the architecture of the scheme. We don’t consider this to be a sensible area to try and save money.

It is worth noting that the Engineer may need to visit site either during design stage or during construction, it is the industry norm that this is charged on an hourly basis, as forecasting what is required is very difficult. Also, certain assumptions about ground conditions, wall and/or floor construction and condition are made in the design phase. The start of the construction process can reveal differences in these assumptions, and can mean a change in the design solution, or additional works for the Engineer and/or your builder.

Without Breaking A Few Eggs

The client’s brief was to open up the basement rooms to the rest of the house. This meant we needed to remove a large area of the ground floor at the back of the house, along with the two primary 500mm thick rubble stone spine walls to either side of the stairs. 

On top of this, a new glazed extension was to be added to the back of the house, improving the link with the garden and forming a new 7 metre wide clear opening in the rear wall.

In short: we needed to make a bit of a (carefully considered) mess. 

Time was spent with both the structural engineer and steelwork fabricator to develop a structural design that would allow us to remove the required amount of the existing building, while achieving the desired open space and hiding the new steelwork.  

The resulting structural solution, although significant in size, was actually fairly simple. Three letterbox frames concealed within the walls and floors, with two 6.5 metre high circular columns breaking the span of the two principle frames and supporting the edge of the landing.

The more complex issue was the temporary propping required to hold the building up during the demolition and steelwork installation. We needed to make sure that once the propping was in place, we could get the steel beams and columns in through the strangely beautiful forest of props. This involved some of the steelwork having to be fabricated and laid in position before the propping was erected.

One of the most unusual aspects of the final solution were the ‘flat jacks’ above the new opening in the back wall. These are, in effect, whoopy cushions made from steel. They were installed between the top of the steel and the existing wall, inflated with high pressure air and then filled with a non-shrinking grout. This process forces any deflection out of the steel, avoiding any cracking when the props are removed.

There is no doubt that it was a challenging project. But the detailed design and planning meant that the process on site was generally very smooth. And the fact that in the finished house the large steel letterbox frames are entirely hidden, is extremely satisfying.


As soon as you have appointed Moon, you will be sent an invitation to join Moon BASE.

You’ll now have access to your own private portal, containing all your project information and the ability to communicate with us throughout the project. 

BASE enables you to access: 

  • All project files including the drawings and photographs
  • Approve drawings and each design stage.
  • Fee invoicing and payments 
  • All project communication with the Moon team 

No more trawling through your inbox trying to find the right drawings or last correspondence. Everything you need in one place. 

BASE can be accessed either through your desktop or mobile device . 

Never Stop Playing

When we tell people we’ve written, produced and published two children’s books, we’re often met with the same response. Why? Our response is equally blunt: why not? Making doesn’t always have to involve a hammer and nails.   

We originally took the plunge into kids’ books with I am the Architect, a chance to share our passion for architecture and building. Based around ten-year-old megalomaniac Archie’s mission to build the ultimate den, we aimed to inspire young minds with a story filled with humour, warmth and, thanks to the scarily talented young illustrator Rosanna Tasker, beauty. 

I am the Architect was sent all over the world – from England to America to Australia. It featured in school lessons across Bristol and Bath. And it was used for Bristol Architecture Centre Children’s Week, as well as being stocked at architecture centres in America and France. 

But the most satisfying response to the book came from the readers themselves. Seemingly enamoured by Archie’s self-obsessed ways, we received hundreds of den designs from Archie’s fans. After picking three winners, these creations formed the basis of Archie’s den in the sequel: I am the Builder. 

I am the Builder saw Archie venture into the world of construction – to finish the job he started in I am the Architect. But this time, the stakes were higher as Archie and his team toiled to get their den featured on the completely fictional TV show: Kelvin McClood’s Amazingly Grandiose Designs.  

Archie’s new adventure again found its audience. Kids who enjoyed the rich illustrations, playful writing and irreverent take on the stereotypes that abound in the building trade. We even managed to sneak a few messages in about the craft and creativity that, perhaps, go 
underappreciated in the construction industry. 

Hopefully, as young readers enjoy Archie’s tales, they’ll have a think about the buildings around them and how they were constructed. Maybe we’ll even inspire a few architects and builders of the future.

We’d love our legacy to go beyond just the spaces we create to have an impact, no matter how small, on the community around us.