I’ve recently written a short guide to give to clients which outlines the process of extending a house. I’ve decided to blog the content of it it to see what you guys think.

Any questions or comments welcome!

Extending Your Home

So you’ve decided to extend your home, but aren’t sure what to do or how to do it? Then this guide is for you!

When you consider Planning Approval and Building Regulations and all the other things that go along with any building project, the thought of extending your property can be a daunting prospect, this guide will help make sense of all the jargon so that you can be clear about the process and how Lacey Architectural Services can help you.

Step 1. Feasibility

The first thing you will need to consider is whether extending your property is feasible, and if it is, then to what extent? You’ll need to think about how much extra space you’ll need and how that relates to the building as it currently is. How much is the project likely to cost? How long will it take?

It may be that you have a pretty good idea of what you want, or maybe you don’t at all but you just know you need some extra space, perhaps you’re somewhere in between? Either way, Lacey Architectural Services are available to help advise will all the above considerations.

Once you’re happy that you have a good idea of what you want to build and you want to progress on to the next sage, then we move on to step 2.

Step 2. Planning

Does your extension need planning? In some cases the answer will be yes and in some cases no. In this country we have a concept known as permitted development, which under certain circumstances allows home owners to make extensions to their property without needing to go through the planning process. Lacey Architectural Services will be able to advise you whether your extension is covered by permitted development rights or whether a planning application is needed.

If it does fall under permitted development you then have two choices. You can either proceed to step 3, or you can apply for what is known as a Lawful Development Certificate. An LDC is a certificate issued by the local authority planning department, stating that the proposed work is legal and doesn’t require permission. Strictly speaking, if the proposed extension is covered under the permitted development rights, then you are fully entitled to build it without involving the planning authority. However, for peace of mind, many people choose to apply for an LDC just to be sure. Additionally, if you choose to sell your property at a later date, then being able to produce an LDC to prove beyond any doubt that your extension is lawful will be extremely helpful.

In order to apply for an LDC you will need to supply the Local Authority with basic drawings and other related documentation as well as a small fee (usually approx £86) Lacey Architectural Services will be happy to make this application on your behalf should you require it.

If the proposed development is not covered under permitted development, then you will need to make a full application. For this you will need to supply drawings and other documentation to the Local Authority, as well as a standard fee of £172. Again Lacey Architectural Services will be on hand to do this.

Once The Planning Application is made, it normally takes up to 8 weeks to get a decision back from the Local Authority. If permission is granted then we can move on to step 3. If permission is refused then in some circumstances it may be advisable to appeal against the decision, or perhaps scale back the design and re apply.

Step 3. Building Control

In order to ensure that buildings are safe, fit for purpose and constructed to a reasonable standard, nearly all building work needs to comply with the Building Regulations and be approved by a building control officer from the Local Authority, or equivalent.

There are two primary ways of going about this. Firstly, if the building work is of a very simple nature you can apply for a Building Notice. This involves giving the Local Authority some basic information about the project. The building control officer will then come and inspect the work at regular intervals and liaise with the you and builder to ensure it meets the regulations. Secondly, you can do what is known as a Full Plans Submission. This involves supplying comprehensive information and drawings of the building before the work starts, which the building control officer inspects and approves prior to construction. The builder then uses these drawings to build the extension from and the building control officer visits site occasionally just to ensure it is being built in accordance with the approved drawings.

There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages to either method of gaining building regulations approval some of which are detailed below:

Advantages of a Building Notice:
– Building work can start very quickly
– Less design information is required, therefore the design fees will be reduced

Disadvantages of a Building notice:
– Only really suitable for very simple work
– No approved drawings means that the builder will be working at risk. If his work doesn’t comply with the building regulations then the building control officer can make him take it down, leading to costly delays.
– There will be no certificate issued by building control upon completion of the works.

Advantages of a Full Plans Submission:
– Fully designed, specified and approved drawings supplied to the builder to work from before work begins. This allows the builder to accurately price the work, and ensures you are fully aware of exactly what you will be getting for your money.
– Drawings are approved by building control, giving peace of mind that what is built will be of a high standard.

Disadvantages of a Full Plans Submission:
– It can take several weeks to prepare the drawings and get them approved, so building work won’t be able to start as soon.
– There is more design work involved so the design fees will be higher, however, this is offset by the fact you have clarity and certainty from the off.

Fees charged by the Local Authority for building regulations approval vary depending on the size and scale of the project.

Step 4 The Construction Process

Typically, construction can be a messy process, therefore it’s important to select a good builder who you can rely upon. Lacey Architectural Services can help you select a suitable builder if required.

Depending on the size of the project, you may also wish to retain our services to oversee the builders work right through to completion which we will be happy to help with.

We hope this guide has been useful to you. if we can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

For further information on Planning and Building Control please see: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk

Like I said, any questions, comments or indeed constructive criticism gratefully received!