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1a: Preparation and brief (appraisals)

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'Appraisals' is the first part of the 'preparation and brief' stage (or 'brief' in PAS 1192:2). It involves assessing whether the project is feasible, and whether there is a preferred option that should be developed.

It will generally be necessary to appoint advisers to undertake feasibility studies and option appraisals during this stage. These are likely to be limited appointments as no final decision has been taken about whether to proceed with the project or how it should progress.

It is important to properly assess the BIM capability of these advisers and any training requirements. The greater the number of different organisations involved in the project, the more important it becomes that they have the appropriate capability, and that they adopt consistent procedures defined by the employer.

Appointment documents can be prepared based on the strategic brief and the initial responsibility matrix.


If necessary, the appointed advisers work with the employer to develop the strategic brief sufficiently for feasibility studies to be carried out. They should assess the information issued to them, and help the employer identify gaps and any need for additional appointments, and obtain any further information that might be required, such as; site surveys, information about site services, site access conditions, legislative constraints, existing planning consents and so on.

Wherever possible, any information prepared or obtained should be in a format which can be readily shared and used, and should be stored and named in a way consistent with the long-term project and operational needs.

The advisers undertake feasibility studies to establish whether the project is viable. This might include comparison of several different sites and assessment of strategies that might not involve a building project, such as doing nothing or changing working practices.

Once a range of feasible options have been identified, the employer’s advisers might undertake more detailed appraisals to help identify a preferred option.

Initial cost appraisals should also be developed which break down the overall project budget based upon; information provided by the employer in the strategic brief, assessment of the sites that are being considered and analysis of comparable projects or benchmarking databases. As well as design and construction costs, initial cost appraisals may include employer costs that do not feature in later project cost plans, such as site acquisition costs, finance costs, operating costs and so on.

An options review report should be prepared to help identify the preferred option. This should include an assessment of risk, an assessment of whether an outline planning application should be submitted, requirements for statutory approvals, consultations with utility providers, an assessment of the need for additional advice and so on. It should also consider the overall compatibility of the options with the employer's objectives and the likely consequences on the employer's operations.

The options review report may include drawings, massing models and other material that employer’s stakeholders find easy to assess against the strategic brief, as well as technical assessments. Wherever possible this information should be provided in a form that is easy to interrogate, compare and test against the strategic brief and should draw upon data and sources that are being managed in a consistent way.

The employer should develop the preliminary business case into a full business case for the preferred option. They should also begin to prepare a project management plan (perhaps with assistance from advisers) for the preferred option setting out the strategy for managing the project, describing who will do what and when, and defining the policies and procedures that will be adopted.

The strategic brief should continue to develop in response to the assessments carried out and the additional information obtained.

Employer’s decision point

The table below sets out examples of plain language questions that an employer might ask at this decision point and the information they might require to answer those questions.

Plain language questions Information required
Has information been compiled in a suitable format and stored in a suitable way?

Does the strategic brief still satisfy the business need?

Is the project feasible?

Do option studies provide sufficient information to be able to select a preferred option?

Does the preferred option satisfy the business need?

Is the preferred option affordable?

Is a suitable project management plan in place?

Does the business case for the preferred option justify progressing with the project and developing a full project brief?

Should an outline planning application be submitted?

Strategic brief.

Options review report.

Initial cost appraisals.

Business case.

Project management plan.

If there is a significant risk of not obtaining planning permission for the project, it may be appropriate to submit an outline planning application at this stage before major expenditure is committed.

Next stage >> 1b: Preparation and brief (brief and information requirements).