1. What is planning permission?
Construction of new buildings, extensions and changes such as roof alterations to existing buildings usually requires consent from the local planning authority. The planning system is designed to control inappropriate development. Some extensions, alterations or outbuildings will however come under Permitted Development (PD) rights. The following link will open an interactive guide to see if you require planning permission https//www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/
2. What are Building Regulations?
Regardless of whether planning permission is required building regulations is required on almost all domestic and commercial projects. The Building Regulations are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to virtually every building. They are developed by the Government and approved by Parliament.
These regulations set national standards for building work, whether it be on a major new development or an extension or alterations to your home. They cover all aspects of construction, including foundations, damp-proofing, the overall stability of the building, insulation, ventilation, heating, fire protection and means of escape in case of fire.
3. Why are good quality, accurate plans so important?
There are a number of reasons why they are so important. Firstly, building plans are basically an instruction manual for your building work. They will indicate exactly what your finished project will look like and how it will work for you. Secondly clear and accurate plans will enable builders to quote on a like for like basis which will enable you to make a more informed decision when choosing a builder to use. Another reason is that they offer in a sense an insurance policy. We have all seen Cowboy Builders on TV but the reality is the plans which have been approved by Building Control officers are what should be built and you will have this proof if for any reason the builder is incompetent, protecting you from what could be a costly experience if you did not have approval.
4. Do I need any other permissions?
Achieving Planning Consent and Building Regulations approval does not necessarily mean that you have a legal right to carry out your building work. There may be covenants or easements restricting development on your site; if you are unsure you should check the deeds to your property or seek legal advice. If you are building over, or near to, a public sewer you will probably need to seek the consent of the owners of the sewer by entering into a ‘Building Over Sewer’ agreement. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 may also apply; this is not an approval or application but more like an agreement between neighbours to ensure there are no boundary or Party Wall disputes.
5. How long does the design process take?
There is a statutory eight-week period for the Local Authority to issue a Planning Decision. Building Regulations approval by the Local Authority can take up to 8 weeks but we often use Approved Inspectors which typically take 14-21days. Therefore from carrying out our initial survey you can expect the process to take a minimum of 2-3 months. This should be taken into account when you think about when you want your work to start.
6. Do I need someone to supervise my building work?
In short, no. Many home extensions do not need a separate project manager as long as a competent, professional builder is employed. The work will be checked periodically by the Building Inspector to ensure that the construction is being carried out in accordance with the plans and that it conforms to Building Regulations.
7. How do I find a good builder?
There are a lot of websites and information available but the best way is to ask. A good place to start would be if you have any friends, family or neighbours that have had building work done. Ask them for references and follow them up. As stated MTL Design will be able to suggest builders for your specific project, but it is important that you ask the right questions and find the builder that is right for you. Just remember the best builders will almost certainly not be the cheapest and don’t expect them to start tomorrow as good builders will normally have a queue!