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

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.

Porch detail

Proceeding at Risk

The general rule is to wait until you have received your planning permission before starting the Building Regulation Drawings.

However, there are times when this rule becomes less important and the Building Regulation drawings can be started earlier, this is known as ‘proceeding at risk’. 

What is proceeding at risk?

Proceeding at risk is when your architect or technician starts the building regulation drawings before you have the Planning approval. It means that you can use the time period of the planning process, often 8-10 weeks, to progress the project and resolve the construction drawings. 

This also enables other professionals such as the structural engineer to become involved at an earlier stage. The process of co-ordinating the structural design and construction drawings can take weeks depending on the complexity of the project.

By starting this process during the planning stage, you will be able to start your project soon after planning consent is granted- subject to contractor availability of course. 

What is the risk?

The risk will be determined by the sensitivity of the planning application, the planning constraints such as Conservation area status etc. Moon DESIGN will discuss these risks with you and make a recommendation of the likely outcome of the planning application. If we feel there is a real risk of the application being refused we will not recommend  ‘proceeding at risk’.

The risk will be the Stage 3 Fees set out in your fee proposal, or at least part of those fees depending on when it becomes apparent that a planning consent looks unlikely. 

The other risk will be any third party fees such as a structural engineer or CCTV footage for a drain survey. 


Moon DESIGN will provide you with advice on the Planning risk, but it is not in our control and therefore we cannot take any responsibility for applications that are refused. If an application is refused, we can always re-submit making the necessary changes. This approach will usually allow for part of the Building Regulation drawings to be re-used or altered, reducing the wasted time & fees. 

Ultimately, the decision to ‘proceed at risk’ must be yours, as there is no such thing as a guaranteed planning approval. Therefore, we can not be held responsible for the cost of any wasted time and fees as the result of an unsuccessful planning application.

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.

Concealed Beauty

Hansgrohe iBox

Innocuous in appearance, yet beautifully considered, the Hansgrohe iBox is a testament to form following function.

Invented by Alois Schönweger, the universal shower installation unit is built directly into the bathroom wall. The concealed nature of the device allows plumbers to connect or replace any type of shower fixture without the need for major construction work.

Designed for use with all common installation systems, connection types and fittings, the rotationally symmetric box has now been used in over seven million new builds and refurbishments since its launch in 2001. 

The perfect example of beautiful functionality.