I’m not sure how to achieve what I want, can you provide inspiration?
Yes! We all want different things from our home and we will listen to your needs and preferences, providing options for discussion in most cases.
Do I need Planning Permission?
Certain projects can be done under Permitted Development, in which case we would strongly recommend a Certificate of Lawfulness Application instead of Planning. Please contact us to discuss the rules of PD. Beyond these limits, or if PD Rights have been removed from your property, you will require a Planning Application. You should allow 8 weeks for the Local Authority to determine either.
Do you handle the Planning process for me?
Yes. We will submit the Application for you and liaise with the Council on your behalf; this is why you choose a local practice. We do request that you don’t engage with Planning or other authorities without discussing with us first – negotiations can sometimes be delicate and we are committed to getting the best possible outcome for you.
Do I need Building Regulations approval?
As with Planning, some small projects are exempt from Building Regulations, although the list is different to that for Planning, and they sometimes conflict. Please contact us to discuss whether your project is likely to be exempt.
Do you handle the Building Regulations process?
Detailed drawings will normally be produced as a separate package after Planning is resolved. We will nominate an Approved Inspector who will serve notice on the Local Authority. They will also liaise with us to make any changes/recommendations before issuing an approval. As the work progresses on site they will inspect it for you and issue a certificate on completion. This last stage is normally handled by your builder.
Do I need a Structural Engineer?
On most projects, we design the structure for you in principle, including sizes for timbers and locations of steelwork. This keeps overall costs to a minimum. Where necessary we will nominate an Engineer with the right level of insurance to provide structural calculations on your behalf. These will be coordinated with our drawings and submitted to Building Control as appropriate.
What about the Party Wall (etc.) Act?
Party Wall issues can often be resolved by serving notice on your neighbour(s) when detailed drawings are available. We can provide you with standard letters to do this when the time comes. If your neighbour(s) are happy to sign and return within the set time period you may not need to do anything else. If not, or if a Party Wall Award is still required we will nominate an independent Party Wall Surveyor to handle this for you.
Can I build over drains?
In most cases yes. We will lift manhole covers where possible at the time of our survey to determine depth and direction of drains. Those deeper than 1.0m are likely to affect the depth of your new foundations. Those that serve another property ‘upstream’ are deemed public sewers and you will need permission from your Water Authority if building near to them. We will organise this for you.
Why do you not quote for Building Regulations drawings at the start?
Unless you are in a desperate hurry to start building work, we strongly recommend waiting until Planning is resolved before we start work on the Building Regulations drawings. This is because your project can change during the design process (discussions with you) and the planning process (discussions with the Planning Dept) so we will not have an accurate picture of what level of detail will be involved until then. To quote earlier than this would require us to assume a ‘worst case’ scenario, potentially costing you more. In order to avoid the sense that costs are ‘snowballing’ we do, however quote for each stage of the design before starting any work on that stage.
Can you recommend a builder?
Yes. Any builder we recommend will be independent and selected as appropriate for your project and timescales. They will be familiar with our drawing packages and know that they need to provide a good service to carry on working with us. However they will be aware that any quotations will be considered alongside others, so if you know a builder you would like to consider as well, that’s fine too.
How much will my project cost to build?
This is one of the most common questions and the most difficult to answer at an early stage. There is no typical project and as the design proceeds different challenges will become evident. We may be able to give you a rough idea when we know more, but ultimately this is a question for your builder when all the drawings and details are in place. As a rough guide, £60K is a healthy budget for a single storey extension or loft conversion, double storeys will cost you upwards of £80K
What are your timescales?
You can normally expect initial drawings from us within 2-3 weeks. Beyond that it’s as much about how quickly you can make decisions and choose between options, although this is best not rushed. Typically allow 6-8 weeks from survey to Planning submission. Subsequent stages are usually much quicker but there may be lead times during busy periods. We will try and give as realistic timescales as possible throughout the process.
I am in a hurry, can you do it quicker?
We appreciate that some projects are more urgent than others, but we do need to prioritise fairly and we won’t ‘bump’ deadlines that we have already committed to. Please talk to us about your needs and we’ll check our schedule.