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Advice & Information

Permitted Development Rights
It may be possible to make changes to your property without Householder Planning Approval, we will advise on each property individually. If its possible to utilise your Permitted Development Rights a project can go ahead without contacting the planning department, but the legislation is updated regularly, and you should only consider starting your build if you are certain the development meets the current guidance.   We recommend a Certificate of Lawfulness is obtained so as to ensure there are no delays when you later sell the property.


A Certificate of Lawfulness application takes the same amount of time for the planning department to process as a Householder Planning application, but the decision will be made by the local authority alone without  consultation with the neighbours or Local Parish (even though they are still sometimes informed of the application). A Certificate of Lawfulness will be issued and a record of it will be kept on file with your Local Authority. You can start works before the Certificate is issued, but we need to be confident that the development is within the Technical Guidance Parameters, because they are not simple and local authorities do interpret some the of the parameters differently.


Using Permitted Development Rights, it may also be possible to have a longer rear extension. This application must be decided within 6 weeks and has a lower fee than a Certificate of Lawfulness application. The planning department contact all neighbours which are connect to a boundary with your house and if they are object to the extension the case officer will visit site to check that the extension will not be ‘overbearing’, these applications are generally approved.


Planning Applications & Larger Extensions
Our aim is to provide a design that the planning department will find hard to refuse but this depends upon
your aspirations and the Local Authority. Some Local Authorities have tougher criteria than others and, in some cases, we cannot come to an agreement with them and the application can with withdrawn and redesigned and resubmitted or alternatively allow to refuse to enable an Appeal.


When a planning decision is taken to Appeal, no changes can be made to the refused design, therefore  during the planning application process, we try to agree changes to the design before it is refused to overcome as many of the issues raised as possible (if they case officer will allow), it can provide a higher chance of success at the Appeal.


Design Plans
Our plans are general completed in two stages, the Design Plans which are used for a Planning application, 
or a Certificate of Lawfulness application and the second stage would be the production of the Building  Regulation Plans, which are used for Tendering, Building Control applications and for the Builders to work from.


The plans will be drawn using 3D REVIT CAD software with the initial designs emailed to you in PDF format for your consideration to comment and asked questions about. All options and amendments you request within the first stage are included within our Design Plans Fees. This is to provide you with every opportunity to ensure we achieve the optimum layout and design to suit you and to reduce the chance of costly amendments at a later stage. During the planning application process if changes are required by the case officer these are included within our fees.


Building Regulation Plans
Building Regulations Plans need to be prepared to show how the construction will conform to the Building Regulations. We use a copy of the approved Design Plans and prepare further detailed drawings, structural calculations, and construction detailing.

 

The Building Control Inspector may require further information, such as SAP Calculations to prove the extension will meet the minimum thermal requirements. This is usually requested when the area of glazing is more than 25% of the floor area. Currently the cost is around £225. 


After all amendments and options have been considered and you are satisfied with your plans, we will act on your behalf as your agent and submit any required application and liaise with the relevant Local Authority departments.  Planning applications are submitted through the Planning Portal and can take around 1-3 weeks to be registered by the Local Authority. From this point they are supposed to make a decision within 8 weeks but please be aware that unfortunately this is not always the case, and they may request an Extension of Time, which is handy if they allow us to make amendments.


After the first 5 weeks (the consultation period) we will contact your appointed case officer and ask if they support the application or if they have any issues they would like to discuss. We will contact you with this feedback so that you are involved in any decisions.


It is important to understand the Case Officers have delegated powers to refuse the application, even if it is fully supported by your neighbours, the Parish Council or other official consultants. Therefore we must work with them to find a solution to any issues raised, it may be necessary to withdraw an application and resubmit it or allow it to be refused and take it to appeal if there is a likely chance of it being accepted at appeal. All of this will be discussed fully with you and advice will be given, if the situation arises.  Once the application has gained planning approval, we will ask if you’re ready for us to undertake the Building Regulation Plans. A second invoice will be issued, and this process can take between 4 to 5 weeks. These will be emailed to you, normally in A3 PDF, and you’ll be asked if you would like us to apply to Building Control. We recommend an application is submitted at least 2 months prior to works commence (this length of time is preferable but not necessary).


Building Regulation plans can be submitted to the Local Authority under a Building Notice or a Full Plans application, they check the plans in a Full Plans application which can take 2-4 weeks. Alternatively, an Approved Building Inspector can be used and will approve the plans within 7-10 days at which time the work can commence. We strongly recommend that a full plans check is carried out, although we are confident that our plans will be the Building Regulations, it is not possible to include all details of the regulations in the plans and Building Controls vary on the information they prefer within the application. If your builder has any queries prior to, or during, the construction phase they are welcome to contact ourselves to discuss any issues. If required, we will make site visits to provide advice and gather further information to make any structural changes. Additional charges for site visits and changes to calculations and plans are at our discretion.


Other Considerations


Party Wall
The Party Wall etc. Act, in essence enables home owners access onto their neighbours property to build or work on the ‘Party Wall’, it also protects neighbours from damage caused by the building work, therefore if any damage is done as a direct result of the building works they will be compensated by having any damage repaired. If any of the following is relevant to you when considering an extension or loft conversion, it is likely a Party Wall Notice should be served.
1) You plan to excavate within 3m of your neighbours building,
2) You plan to build on the property boundary
3) You plan to build a wall astride the boundary or work on the party wall, such as installing steel beams in the party wall. We will advise you if you need to Serve Notices and recommend a Party Wall Surveyor.


Public Drains
A Drain becomes Public if your neighbours waste runs into your drains. If Public drains are built over with a
new Extension if ‘may’ be necessary, that an application is submitted to the Local Water Authority for them to approve the Build Over, but this will depend on the current depth of the drain, size of the pipe, total length of pipework to be covered and if there is space on one side for a manhole.  If you are unsure if you have a Public Drain we recommend a Drain Survey is undertaken as the Drain Maps do not always show every run, it will also help to see if there is any damage to your drains before work commences.


For any New Builds, this includes a new detached garage, it is not possible to build over a public drain and
therefore the drain would need to be diverted or build the garage is a different area. Additional plans and
a topography survey may be necessary for these applications, which will be an extra charge.


Additional Surveys & Reports
Occasionally, it may be necessary to have additional reports prepared and they are normally undertaken by a different consultant such as an Arborist who specialises in trees and the affect of foundations on trees. If a survey is required, this is an additional cost we will obtain a quotation on your behalf. We will work with the Arborist and you pay them for their services directly. 


For Certificate of Lawfulness Applications, it is very unlikely that the Planning Department will request any
additional reports. Householder applications however they are able to request them if they feel its necessary, the reports are usually in relation to trees or Bats.


Contingency
When we complete the design, we can only go on what we are able to see and using assumptions, based on our experience, this is also the case with builders who provide you with an Estimate for the project.  Once walls and floors are uncovered and the earth is excavated, the design may change, for example an assumed existing supporting beam is missing or not large enough or the Building Inspector feels the excavations should go down further or the existing floor joists run in a different direction which may affect the size of a new beam. These costs are to be covered by the client and therefore you must have a contingency in your budget to allow for any unforeseen problems that arise. We would suggest 15-20% on a home extension.


Checks
Applications are not submitted without your written/emailed approval, therefore please do not assume this is being completed unless you have received an email of confirmation of the fact from us. If you have not been asked to pay fees to the relative Governing Body or Organisation for applications to be registered it's likely it has not been completed so please call us if you are unsure.


Before building works commence;

• Planning Approval must be in place or you have proof that it is not required
• Building Control applications have been submitted and Building Control are advised of start date.
• If required; Party Wall Notices have been served and you have received sign approval from your neighbour or Party Wall Agreements are in place. These only last 6 months.
• If required; A Build Over Application has been submitted and approved. The Building Regulation Plans may need to be altered to fit the requirements and findings of the Water Authority, Your Home Plans must be made aware of any changes required by the Water Authority so as to update Building Control accordingly. Speed and cost of Applications depends on the Water Authority.