ARCO2 have an ethos to provide high-quality, unique, site-specific sustainable architecture in Cornwall and the south-west.

Are you looking to build a completely bespoke property in Cornwall? 

Do you need help with how to start the journey, from the first idea to the finished building? 

If you're confused by the process of building your own home from scratch, we can help. 

Arco2 knows that building your dream property can be scary. We have over 18 years of experience building exceptional, bespoke, sustainable, award-winning buildings

Our approach to projects is comprehensive and runs from the conception of the very first ideas through to completion. We will guide you every step of the way to building your dream property in Cornwall.  To see a detailed overview of how our journey together works, see our following phases:

  • Step 1 - The Discovery Phase
  • Step 2 - The Concept & Design Phase
  • Step 3 - The Delivery Phase

With every project, we strive to provide you with a personal architectural experience. We go on a journey together and build a relationship to understand exactly what you want so that we can deliver exactly what you need.

Starting with Step 1 - The Discovery Phase. This first step is vital and allows ARCO2 to understand your lifestyle, needs, and ambitions that will inspire your building design. This encourages the project to be totally personalised and founded upon sustainable living principles that set the foundations and the path for truly unique architecture.

Architects Cornwall Stage 2 -The Concept and Design Stage


          The Discovery Phase inspires Step 2 - The Concept & Design Phase where healthy buildings are designed around your needs, for your comfort and your well-being. Our buildings are engineered to be robust, to minimise ongoing maintenance, and to reduce running costs through fundamental sustainable design features. Together we design truly unique, bespoke designs that work exactly as you need them too. 

Stage 3 - The Delivery & Build Stage

Finally, the Delivery Phase. This is where your architecture project starts coming to life, meets (and possibly surpasses) the aspirations of the journey and the building begins.

If you're ready to build a property designed specifically for your life and your needs. A luxury building personalised for you, a future-proofed building full of sustainable and environmentally friendly features, get in touch to start your journey now. Or read below for a more detailed description of how the journey together works. 

  • Step 1 – The Discovery Phase


    Finding a building plot or purchasing a building can often be difficult even when you have a shortlist to view. ARCO2 can help you to make the decision by discussing the pros and cons of each site or building, and determining which has the greatest potential for us to achieve your aspirations. This work is normally undertaken as consultancy and charged on an hourly rate basis.



    You may need to know whether your idea is viable and has the potential to develop into a project. ARCO2 can undertake a simple feasibility proposal to assess this development potential.

    These studies often appraise the likelihood of obtaining planning permission, whether the site is large enough, key constraints, and opportunities. This work stage can be undertaken on an hourly rate basis, fixed sum, or as a percentage as part of a wider project.
  • Step 2 – The Concept & Design Stage


    This is the most creative work stage and can be extremely exciting for you and for us as Architects. The concept is normally developed following an extensive site analysis and ensuring we have a clear understanding of your brief. For inspiration have a look at some of our favourite projects here.

    Build a dream home in CornwallBuild a bespoke property in Cornwall

    The concept and design stage is a very important stage; the best buildings focus on the concept throughout the following work stages. We normally develop 2D plans based on the concept and work closely with you to ensure you understand the concept and embrace the plans. We then develop a 3D model which enables you to see the building for the first time. These models are also used in Virtual Reality (VR) to test the design. We can then invite you to our office to experience the full VR and better understand the design: 

    This design phase will normally take place over a number of weeks with several design meetings until we are all content. Understanding you and your requirements and getting these into this stage is normally undertaken as a percentage of the anticipated construction cost.

    We are able to produce physical models at an additional cost, which can help you to better understand the design or provide a visual aid during presentations to members of the public and Parish Councils.

    Bespoke Home Design in Cornwall

    Build a unique home in Cornwall


    We like to work as closely as possible with the Planning Department and recommend the pre-application process. This gives us a way of testing the water with our concept and design and the opportunity to meet the planning officer.

    This stage is not necessary, but we find that it can be very informative and help to steer the design proposals towards a successful outcome. Generally, the more design information that can be submitted, the more informative the feedback.

    The aim is to receive a positive response from the planning officer to give you the confidence to develop the proposals into a Planning Application. Typically we will provide A Location Plan, Block Plan, Site Plan, 2D Plans, 3D images, A3 booklet.

    This pre-application is normally undertaken as part of the Concept and Sketch Design stage.

    Help to design and build a property in Cornwall


    Once the Concept and Sketch Design process are complete and the pre-application response is received, we begin developing the proposals for a Planning Application.

    This may include making some design amendments to satisfy the planning officer’s feedback.

    At this stage, we will provide, A Location Plan, Block Plan, Site Plan, 1:100 Scale 2D Plans, 1:100 2D Elevations, 3D images, A3 Planning Booklet incorporating the Design and Access Statement.

    The majority of projects we design are in sensitive locations such as coastal or rural areas and require Visual Impact Assessments to demonstrate that the impact of the design has been considered within the immediate environment and wider context.

    Photomontages of the proposal help to portray how the building will appear from the main public vantage points. We have close relationships with all the consultants you are likely to need throughout your project, such as Planning Consultants, Landscape Architects, Ecologists, Arboriculturalists, and Land Contamination Specialists.

    Architect designs Cornwall

    This enables us to organise and manage your consultants, freeing you to enjoy the process. This work stage is normally undertaken as a percentage of the anticipated construction cost.


    Where a project is controversial or on a sensitive site, we often present proposals to the Parish Council prior to a planning application being submitted. A 10-minute presentation followed by questions enables the Councillors to better understand the proposal and provide us with valuable feedback.

    This is the first time that your project is presented in front of the public. We can also attend the Parish Council meeting when the planning application is considered to answer any questions that may arise.

    This process can be useful to appease a planning officer’s concerns about a project and can also help to reinforce their support. If required, this stage is normally undertaken on an hourly rate basis.


    ARCO2 stays in contact with the planning officer throughout the determination period. Occasionally, planning applications become drawn out due to unexpected comments from statutory consultees such as Highways Officers, Tree Officers, Conservation Officers, the Environment Agency, or the Parish Council.

    We may need to undertake additional work to satisfy these consultees, which will be undertaken on an hourly rate basis.


    After celebrating your planning approval, you are still some way off starting your exciting construction project. The Building Regulations require us to demonstrate to Building Control how the Approved Documents have been met. This entails A detailed 2D Site Plan, 1:50 Scale 2D Plans, 1:20 2D Sections, 1:50 2D Elevations, and a Written Specification.

    We also need to produce U-Value Calculations and liaise with a SAP Assessor to provide a design stage SAP Calculation and an EPC. We work with a Structural Engineer who will provide calculations and drawings.

    The amount of work that we produce for this stage is comparable to that of the Concept and Sketch Design and Planning Application stages combined. This work stage is normally undertaken as a percentage of the anticipated construction cost.



    This is the largest and most vital stage, and normally requires quite a lot of your input. We prepare the detailed drawings and specifications that allow your contractor to price the work and most importantly construct your project.

    Typically, we will provide a 1:50 Scale Plan and Section Details (detailed instructions), 1:20 Scale Sections, Door and Window Schedules, Mechanical and Electrical Plans, Floor Finish Plans, and a detailed written specification.

    Luxury home designed in Cornwall

    The specification is often combined with the Building Regulations Specification to help the contractor understand the Building Regulation requirements. This work stage is normally undertaken as a percentage of the anticipated construction cost.

    We are also able to perform interior design services (in-built furniture, kitchen design, shelving, fittings, internal elevations, sanitaryware design, tile layouts), which can be undertaken on an hourly rate basis.



    You may wish to employ a quantity surveyor during the pre-tender stages to ascertain the likely construction cost, which can be undertaken at the sketch and planning stages.

    Alternatively, the square-metre rate used for recent similar projects can also be a useful guide for construction costs. We normally work with quantity surveyors post planning and at the Building Regulations phase when more detail is known.

    A quantity surveyor may also be beneficial when negotiating a price with a contractor, as they can prepare a breakdown of costs for you to compare. We have close relationships with a number of quantity surveyors and are able to organise and manage them for you.


    During this work stage, we identify a number of contracting firms and invite them to tender. The contractors that are able to tender will then be sent the Tender Package and have five weeks in which to prepare their prices and submit their tender.

    We normally shortlist two contractors, compare their costs, and invite them in for an interview. The winning contractor may be chosen based upon cost, start date, completion date, quality, and who you think you can work with. We will also make our recommendation to you. This work stage is normally undertaken as a percentage of the anticipated construction cost.

    Tenders are becoming increasingly unpopular as many contractors are busy and prefer to work on a negotiated price, but can still be useful to test the market.

    We suggest sending Tender Packages to a minimum of five contractors; however, we often find that we may only receive two tenders back. This means it can be difficult to make direct comparisons and be satisfied that the market has been truly tested.
  • Step 3 – The Delivery & Build


    The Directors of ARCO2 are also Directors of our sister company ADD Sustainable Construction Ltd. (ADD SC). If you choose to engage ADD SC to construct your project, we need to ensure there are no conflicts of interest and ensure that clients are made aware of this relationship at the outset.

    If a client is interested in working with ADD SC, ARCO2 ensures that the tender process/cost negotiations, letting of the construction contract and administration of the contract are undertaken by an independent third party.

    Typically this role would be fulfilled by an experienced building construction professional such as a member of RICS, MICE, MIStructE or RIBA. ADD SC is able to offer full in-house project management, site management, and cost control.



    Occasionally, contractors provide a quote or tender submission higher than your original budget. In most cases, we can work with a contractor to value engineer your project so that it meets your budget, which normally involves changing the specification rather than making significant design amendments. If required, this stage is normally undertaken on an hourly rate basis.


    Once a contractor has been chosen, ARCO2 will help to set up and administer a suitable building contract between you and the chosen contractor. As contract administrators, we act impartially between the two parties.

    This entails making site visits, chairing site meetings, taking and issuing minutes, instructing variations, processing payment certificates, issuing an extension of time certificates, issuing certificates of making good defects, certifying practical completion, performing the final inspection, and issuing the final certificate. This work stage is normally undertaken as a percentage of the anticipated construction cost or on an hourly rate basis.



    During the construction process, there may be times when you would like to make last-minute changes.

    These should generally be avoided as late changes are normally much more costly; however, this does happen from time to time and may require amended drawings, an amended specification, and additional site visits. If required, we will undertake amendments on an hourly rate basis.



    Once the project is complete, the main contractor will provide you with a comprehensive handover package of information explaining how the building is constructed, how it operates, and how it needs to be maintained.

    Once you have settled into your completed project and contractors are a distant memory, we will ask you to provide valuable feedback to help us improve.