Our Practice

Our Approach

Roderick James Architects is aiming to put more fun and informality back into buildings; trying to avoid the stereotype square room, square corner, but providing an efficient thermal envelope with dramatic spatial quality.


Versatility is a key advantage of heavy timber framing; flexibility over window positions, cladding material, wall, floor and roof. It is ideal for an extension or a separate outbuilding. By building extensions as outbuildings with a covered link to the main house it is often possible to make buildings fit in less obtrusively with their surroundings, whilst following the strong outbuilding tradition of rural vernacular architecture. The structure can have a barn feel or be finished to a far smoother specification; the aim is to combine the two so that the feeling of barn predominates. 

Roderick James was the first director of the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales, from its start in 1973 for seven years and a trustee for a further seven years.

We have considerable experience in sustainable building and we recently committed to the UK Architects Declare Climate and Biodiversity Emergency document. If you wish to learn more about our commitment towards sustainability, see our Environmental Policy.

Contemporary architectural practice is also losing spontaneity – Client; Architect; Builder; Sub–contractor. Each link has potential for losing creative and personal aspects of a building, some things have to be carefully designed, some can be left entirely to personal choice. Current building contracts make change in detail difficult and expensive. Fear of litigation makes architects wary of trying new materials and ideas. 


Over-emphasis on maximizing profit in the short term has often meant that the other key ingredient – maximizing client satisfaction – is jeopardized. Often the tying down of architect, builder and sub-contractor to the lowest possible price means the bits which really make buildings work and feel better are omitted. Curiously these items are often not expensive, but they emerge from a close relationship between client, architect, frame-maker and builder, or any combination of these.

We believe there should be a return to a more responsive style of building. It is quite clear that people need to change their living space from time to time, but these events should be relatively straightforward and simple. With timber framed buildings they can be. Virtually all our buildings are one-off designs for individual clients and we rarely seem to duplicate work we have already done. If you’re building from scratch you may as well have what you want! 


Increasingly we have been involved in far more contemporary designs, using stainless steel, simpler framing, marine architecture, ‘loft’ style homes, curved roofs and so on. This is in addition to more traditional work, but it has added an exciting new dimension to our portfolio and we will be delighted to discuss new ideas with you.

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Our Services

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  • RJA STAGE 1 - Initial Meeting

If you are interested in our work and ready to proceed with your project, we can offer a free 1-2 hour initial consultation meeting at our offices in Devon, Salisbury, London or Scotland. This meeting enables us to show you some examples of our work and offer free advice relating to design, build costs and fees in relation to your project. Alternatively, we can visit your site for the initial meeting, but may charge a nominal fee for this.

  • RJA STAGE 2 - Sketch Scheme

Once you have visited us and would like to engage us to commence work on your project, we undertake initial site visits, briefing, planning inquiries and sketch proposal drawings on an hourly rate basis. This enables us to establish your brief and the design direction you would like your project to take.

  • RJA STAGE 3 - Planning Application

Following completion of our Sketch Scheme work and your instructions to proceed, we then charge all further fees as a percentage of the estimated construction cost (this is agreed with you based on the approved sketch scheme and all Sketch Scheme fees are deducted from the agreed Planning fee). The next stage would be to produce drawings and other documentation suitable for submission as a planning application and/or Listed Building Consent application.

  • RJA STAGE 4 - Building Regs / Tender

Following receipt of planning permission for your project, we will then produce construction drawings, notes and details suitable to obtain Full Plans Building Regulations approval and competitive tender prices from suitable contractors. We will also liaise with all necessary consultants and specialist sub-contractors (eg timber framers, SIPS etc) on your behalf.

  • RJA STAGE 5a - Structural Warranty / Inspections

We can assist you with obtaining a 3rd-Party Warranty from a self-build insurance provider. We would obtain at least 3 quotations on your behalf and advise you which product best suits your requirements. NB: further fees will be charged for design or specification changes.

  • RJA STAGE 5b - Contract Admin

We can undertake full contract administration if you wish and act as the Contract Adminstrator for you and your chosen contractor with regard to a suitable JCT contract. This service would include minimum monthly site meetings, valuations, site assistance and provision of Architects Completion Certificate. This service may not be available to sites further than 75 miles from our offices.

  • RJA STAGE 5c - Site Assistance

If we are not undertaking Contract Administration, we are still available to provide site assistance and answer site or design queries from you or your builder on an hourly rate basis. We can also attend site meetings if you wish.

  • Special Activities

We can undertake additional services, such as the following: Measured Land / Building Surveys, Landscape Design, Interior / Furniture Design, Timber Frame Drawings, Project Management and Conservation / Listed Buildings advice - please contact us for a fee quotation.