“Do I need planning persmission?”
A frequently asked question, but not so easy to answer without knowing the particulars of the project. Providing a development proposal meets the following criteria, it can generally be classed as ‘permitted development’, and is acceptable without submitting an application.
- No more than half the area of land around the “original house” would be covered by additions or other buildings.
- No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
- No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
- Single-storey rear extension must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house* by more than three metres if an attached house or by four metres if a detached house.
- In addition, outside Article 2(3) designated land* and Sites of Special Scientific Interest the limit is increased to 6m if an attached house and 8m if a detached house until 30 May 2019.
- These increased limits (between 3m and 6m and between 4m and 8m respectively) are subject to the prior notification of the proposal to the Local Planning Authority and the implementation of a neighbour consultation scheme. If objections are received, the proposal might not be allowed.
- Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres.
- Extensions of more than one storey must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house* by more than three metres.
- Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres.
- Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.
- Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house.
- Two-storey extensions no closer than seven metres to rear boundary.
- Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house.
- Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
- No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
- Upper-floor, side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
- On designated land no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey.
- On designated land no cladding of the exterior.
- On designated land no side extensions.
However, the services of an architect can offer quality of design and process and can be indispensable for many projects requiring high standards. Furthermore, the insight and preparation offered by an architect can greatly minimise all manor of risks often encountered within construction projects.
“How is a project typically structured?”
After a brief discussion of the project to ascertain client requirements, an appointment is agreed and a visit scheduled to the site to survey the existing property. This survey information is then translated into a set of drawings which provides the basis upon which a concept design can be developed (Stage 1-2). Once a concept is agreed, a more detailed scheme design is produced (Stage 3) and submitted for planning upon receipt of initial fee payment. The planning authority typically has eight weeks to determine the application, after which the project can then begin. (Planning is often sought retrospectively but strongly advised against as it could cost the client unnecessary costs). The structure of the project differs on a project to project basis after this, but typically we would then develop the drawings with more detail to illustrate legal and technical compliance, and so that tenders can be sought from local Contractors; the more detail added to the drawings and specification documents the better, as this creates a more accurate (and competitive tender quotation response from contractors). Building Regulations drawings are also developed for approval by the local authority, these are required for ensuring legal compliance regarding all manner of issues from fire safety to noise control. They explain in detail how the building will be constructed (Stage 4-5) and this stage is also met a required fee payment for works to date. The successful Contractor responsible for the construction (determined by you) will then be armed with everything they need to know to produce your desired outcome with a fee structure of their own which is agreed and set out in a contract administered by ourselves; every possible scenario is covered to ensure the client is fully protected against potential nasty surprises. Construction then begins (Stage 6) and is usually carried out according to a programme of works. Upon completion, finances are settled (including retention sums being returned) and a stage of defects liability begins, one year after construction is complete the Contractor is required to return to the property to put right minor defects that may have arrived since completion (due to differential settlement or shrinkage of materials for example); these defects are put right upon instruction from us.
“How much will it cost?”
As this is very difficult to estimate, a cost per square meter is usually used in the early stage of a project to arrive at a ‘ball park’ figure, usually between £1500 and £2500 per square meter of the proposed construction. Costs can be affected by site conditions and unforeseeable circumstances; this is particularly why the appointment of an experienced architect is useful in reducing or overcoming these risks. The standard of finish required by the client can also have a huge impact on cost, which again testifies to the importance of an architect as the consideration of all associated costs can be covered by the drawings and specification documents, meaning that Contractors tendering for the project have all the information in advance and so their fee proposal (tender bid) is more competitive and prevents Contractors from submitting requests for more fees to cover unanticipated costs or for higher quality finishes. Many clients like us to appoint a quantity surveyor who can provide an accurate cost analysis of the specification put forward by the architect, (particularly if they intend to use a specific Contractor and avoid the tender process) however as the building procurement is usually offered to the ‘winner’ of the tender process, the client is coupled with the cheapest fixed-price Contract anyway.
“Am I able to qualify for financial support for developing my home?”
Toward the end of Spring 2019, a new initiative entitled ‘Self Build Wales’ will be launched to enable many more people to build their own home.
The Green Deal, a UK government initiative is currently available (although soon coming to an end) to provide people with grants to make energy-saving upgrades to their home. Examples include the following:
- insulation, such as solid wall, cavity wall or loft insulation
- double glazing
- renewable energy generation, such as solar panels or heat pumps
Self-Build Wales Government-led initiative
Toward the end of Spring 2019, a new initiative will be launched in Wales to enable many more people to build their own home. At present, the dream of building one’s own home remains to be just that, with only a small minority of people ever being able to turn that dream into a reality. Over £200 million is being invested into the scheme by The Welsh Government, with low-cost loans putting power in the hands of the self-builder to essentially help overcome the stagnant house-building market left behind by major developers.
Welsh Housing and Local Government Minister Julie James said:
“We want to make self-build available to many more people in Wales, not just the most privileged households. Finding the land, navigating planning consents and being able to afford to self-build while covering the cost of living can be real barriers.
We have launched this scheme in partnership with local authorities to overcome all of these barriers. This offers a route into home ownership for people who want to stay in their local area but haven’t previously been able to afford to buy there. It also offers older and disabled people the opportunity to build custom adaptive housing that meets their needs in the communities where they want to live.”
More information at https://beta.gov.wales/your-home-in-wales