10 Step Process to Extending Your Property
1. Initial Meeting / Forming the ‘Brief’
Most Architects/Architectural Designers, including ourselves, offer a free of charge initial visit to discuss your requirements in order to provide a more accurate fixed quote for our services. This initial meeting at the property allows us to spot any potential issues with your intentions, planning or otherwise, and essentially obtain a ‘shopping list’ from you about what you are trying to achieve for the end result. We do not go into full design options at this meeting as it is only around 15 minutes or so, and the design process is something that takes time at the scheme layout drawing stage.
2. Gaining quotations for Architectural Services
Following the initial meeting, we will then prepare a fixed price written quotation for your consideration. This written quotation also explains the various stages involved and also advises you of other costs you should budget for such as Structural Engineer fees, Planning and Building Control fees so that you are aware of everything upfront before making the decision to proceed.
3. Appointment of a Designer
When choosing an Architect/Architectural Designer some other important factors to consider as well as cost are as follows;
- Choosing someone who listens to you
- Someone that respects and understands your budget
- Has experience with Local Authority Planners (if planning is required)
- Someone you can work well with
- Obtaining previous work examples to ensure their ability
4. Measured survey of existing property
Once appointed we aim to complete a measured survey of the property within 1 week. We measure the entire ground floor for any changes at ground floor level and the entire house for an two storey extensions / loft conversions. From the detailed measurements taken on site we then prepare ‘as existing’ plans and elevations. It is very important to get these plans as accurate as possible to avoid any issues once works begin on site.
5. Scheme layout drawings
We then take the ‘as existing’ drawings as a base and prepare scheme layout drawings. Some clients have a very clear picture of what they want and to keep the quotation low we create one scheme drawing, which is then tweaked if required. Other clients would prefer to spend a little extra and look at options / alternatives and hence we create 2-3 different scheme layouts for comparison with pros and cons. If Planning is required for the scheme then we then move on to details as described below in point 6. If the works can be carried out under Permitted Development Rights and do not require Planning then we proceed straight to point 7.
6. Planning Drawings and Application to Planning
Once the scheme drawings have been ‘signed’ off by the client, we then prepare the drawings for a Planning application which involves adding details regarding materials, OS plan etc. We fill out the relevant application forms and any accompanying documents that are required, such as a Design & Access Statement. We have a good relationship with Planning Officers at various Local Authorities in the area and liaise with them on your behalf through the Planning Application process in order to achieve the best outcome that is possible.
7. Building Regulation Drawings and Application to Building Control
Following ‘sign off’ of scheme drawings or a successful Planning Permission, if planning is required, it is then a legal requirement to obtain Building Regulations Approval. The scheme drawings / planning drawings are used as a base to create detailed drawings, including cross sections showing all of the construction details, such as timber sizes, insulation depths, dimensions etc The Building Regulation drawings also include a full specification so that your Builder will have all of the information that they require to build out from the plans.
Many extensions / new builds require Structural input from a Structural Engineer as part of the process of obtaining Building Regulations. We work alongside a very cost effective Structural Engineer who prepares detailed calculation packages to aid your Builder. We will obtain quotations for you and obtain your approval before instruction. There are also costs involved in submitting the drawings / Structural calculations to Building Control. We obtain quotations from the Local Authority Building Control and also private Building Control firms for comparison in order that you can make an informed decision
8. Party Wall Act – Notifying neighbours
You must tell your neighbours if you want to carry out any building work on or near your shared property boundary. Although you must notify your neighbours, they cannot stop you from building up to, or even on, the boundary between your properties providing that you have planning permission to do so and there are no restrictive covenants.
This is not a matter covered by Planning or Building Control. If your house extension involves digging or building foundations within 3m of the boundary, party wall or party wall structure, or digging foundations within 6m of a boundary, the work will require you to comply with the Party Wall Act.
9. Obtaining quotations from Builders
Once completed, the Building Regulation drawings can be forwarded to Builders in order to receive written quotations. Some builders are able to provide an approximate ballpark figure from the scheme drawings, but it is the Building Regulations that have the level of detail required for a more accurate and formal quote.
We have a couple of Building firms who we have worked alongside for some time now that would be happy to provide you with a quotation if you wish. Otherwise the drawings can be forwarded to whoever you would like. A good builder usually has a 3-6 month waiting list before being able to start on site. In busy period this can be even longer and hence why it is important to start the 10 step process as early on as possible. We would recommend appointing an Architect / Architectural Designer around a year before you actually want the works to start on site. Obviously there are many people who leave it more last minute, but in an ideal world the longer the better, especially if it requires Planning Permission.
10. On site construction
Once you have chosen which Builder you wish to proceed with, you should receive an estimate of when the works are likely to start on site. Once they do, you should ensure either they or you notify Building Control, who will want to carry out inspections at certain points of the construction, the first being once the trenches are dug for the foundations before they are poured. Please ensure that Planning Permission is obtained (and any pre-commencement conditions discharged if required), Building Regulations Approval has been issued, or it has been at least 48 hours since the plans were deposited at the Local Authority or 5 working days if a private Building Control firm, and that you have received positive party wall letters from your neighbours, if the works involve the Party Wall Act, prior to starting on site.