PLANNING AN EXTENSION OR SMALL PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT?
DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START?
STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS AND HOW TO GUIDE:
It is one thing to have the vision to ‘see’ how changes to a building could enhance the construction, but another thing altogether to be the one who project manages this conversion.
This can be quite a stressful experience to the first time renovator or a private home owner who could be overwhelmed and daunted with the undertaking whilst still living there
There are steps that can be taken though to minimise the stress and this comes down to planning, research and flexibility. With the best will in the world, things do not always go to plan. There may be unforeseen issues that can crop up during the process, but the important thing to remember is there are no problems that do not come with a solution. This is where research comes in.
First things first:
The first thing you need to do when contemplating renovation works that alter the structure of a dwelling is to look at the immediate surrounding area, are there any other homes with a similar extension or conversion? This will give you a preliminary view of whether this is something that your local authority have permitted in the past and may consider now. Please bear in mind; this is only an indication as planning laws are changing constantly.
A letter or email to the local planning authority building control and planning consent division, outlining your vision in a simple drawing and description, giving the full site address including postcode will give you an indication of the view point of the local authority. This may take up to 5 weeks and is a FREE service that the council offer. It is a good way of understanding the parameters that the council will allow for you to pass onto your architect and builder. This will help to keep your costs down too and save on any unnecessary drawings that will not be approved. It is not a binding decision, but more of an indication. It is not strictly necessary, but good practice.
The next step is to find a local architect who can work with private developments. Recommendation from the neighbours who have had extensions/renovations, RIBA or Google should bring up some candidates. It is perfectly ok to ask for references or recommendations from them, if you wish. Normal practice is for them to attend the dwelling and talk through what you want to achieve with your alteration and they will usually troubleshoot there and then and agree their price at that point, this should include for the drawings, any structural loadings required and any alterations that should be necessary if the planning authority refuse the development. The basic terms should be agreed before any work gets started.
They usually then draw up these changes taking into consideration any structural ramifications and if necessary at this point will tell you if you need any extra structural calculations. When you are happy with the drawings it is at this point that you will need to pay for the work the Architect has carried out and you will get a full set of drawings, usually at least 3 copies. If you have also requested it, the architect can fill out the local councils planning and building control forms for you and will indicate who and where you will need to send to and what fees are applicable at this point.
Once planning and building control has been approved, they may come back with alterations to your drawing, which your architect should amend at no further charge (this should be something that you agree in advance during initial discussions), you will be ready to approach builders for a quote for the work.
Planning permission lasts for 3 years and work must be started within that period of time, or the application process will need to be restarted and the fee paid once again.
Once you have your building and planning approval letters, with final drawings approval from your local authority, you can start to approach local builders for their quotation. It is always best to get more than one price and the ideal would be 3 separate company quotes.
Builders can be found by several means: recommendation, check a trade and Google, Some building companies follow the planning approval consents and will write to you directly and offer their services. Contact several and ask them to attend to give you a quote.
Ensure that the quote includes for any underground works, if necessary, removal of rubbish (skips), any electrics (inc moving any existing), sockets/lights, windows and doors. If you have a particular style in mind for skirting boards or coving, this is the point to mention it. When you get the price check it carefully that it references to the drawings and that it includes everything that you are expecting to complete the contract.
If the price is favourable, ask for testimonials from satisfied past customers. Most builders will have a list of customers who will be happy to talk to you. Always allow for a contingency to the quote, with the best will in the world there can be extras that cannot be foreseen.
Once a decision has been made to proceed a date can be sorted for the works to commence. The builder will also then agree the payment terms, usually in stages.
START ON SITE
When a builder starts on site, he will require a place to put his skip and somewhere to place the materials whilst completing the contract. As the builder will be project managing the job, he will call off the materials at each stage.
If footings are required, first the site will need to be cleared of any debris and the footings then dug out. The building control officer will then want to inspect at this stage and the second stage of the building control fees will need to be paid. The builder will tell you at what stage you will need to arrange these visits.
The building control officer will want to see existing footings, new footing depth and look into any additional protocols that may be needed on your site.
Once the footings are in, the first floor build can commence. At this point the builder will agree the final finishes to doors and windows as these will need ordering now.
Tying in the bricks gives a seamless finish to an extension
When first floor is reached, the building control officer will attend again, again at second floor and finally at final fix.
BUILDING CONTROL APPROVAL
Once they have agreed that everything meets with Local Authority approval a certificate of compliance will be issued and the final stage payment to the builder can be made.
It is normal for builders to only issue a 12 month warranty to their work as only new builds need to carry the NHBC 10 year guarantee.