the design process



  • The Survey

    We measure your house in its current form and take a photographic record. This is not a structural survey or a condition survey.

    These measurements are drawn up, usually in CAD, to provide the as existing drawings that will form the basis of the design, applications and ultimately form part of the pack the contractor will price from.

    Asbestos comes in various types and it may not be known to the home owner or the Architect whether or not it is asbestos, however if there is any doubt we are happy and obliged to co-ordinate an asbestos survey so removal can be achieved either during or before the works by an approved specialist.


  • Sketch Scheme


    Having discussed your aims, aspirations and limitations with you, we will produce a sketch scheme we believe meets your requirements.

    We meet to discuss and adjust or revise until we have an agreed outline design to move forward with.


  • Detailed Design


    The agreed sketch scheme is developed in to CAD drawings and form the basis of the “as Proposed” drawing set.

  • Planning Process


    This can take several forms depending on the chosen design, the original property and its location.

    The Planning Authority make a charge for non domestic pre-application advice and all certificate of lawfulness and planning applications.

    The Planning Authority will be the Local Council or National Park Authority. Within a National Park some smaller schemes are delegated to the Local Authority.

    Pre Application Advice

    Always recommended by the Planning Authority as the first step where you discuss the outline proposals with a Planning Officer. It is the personal opinion of that Planning Officer not the Planning Authority and they cannot be held to it when the application is submitted. Advisable for contentious or complicated schemes. For smaller domestic proposals it is considered optional.

    Certificate of Lawfulness

    There are occasions when Planning Permission is not required to extend a property within quite rigid Central Government imposed guidelines. Most but not all properties have some Permitted Development rights. Whilst applying for a certificate is not always necessary it will be required when you come to sell or refinance the property and the process is simpler and cheaper if this is done at the outset. The certificate only states that your proposals are lawful at the time of issue.  If you do not intend carrying out the work for some time you risk the rules changing in the meantime and no longer being permitted.

    There is currently a temporary relaxation for 3 years in the imposed guidelines to encourage development. This is quite recent (June 2013) and how each individual authority will interpret these relaxations has yet to be determined.

    Planning Permission

    Proposals not covered under a Certificate of Lawfulness will require a Planning Application. A slightly more onerous undertaking where the guidelines of the individual Planning Authority also come in to play. These vary from authority to authority and in certain circumstances can be very restrictive. The level of detail and paperwork required is greater than that for a Certificate of lawfulness and the views and concerns of neighbours and interested bodies are, where relevant, taken in to consideration by the Planning Authority . Most domestic schemes are determined under delegated powers where the Planning Department will make the decision in house. Where there is greater interest from neighbours and interested parties the application may go to the Planning Committee. Elected Councillors discuss and decide the application. Although they will normally follow the guidance of the Planning Department it is not guaranteed. It is always desirable involving your neighbours where possible to head off any likely objections.

    Listed Building Consent

    If the property is Listed or within the grounds of a Listed Building it will require Listed Building consent.

    There are currently three grades of Listing, Grade II, Grade II* and Grade I. Contrary to popular belief all parts of the building are covered by the Listing, external and internal, whether historic or not. It is a criminal offence to alter a Listed Building without permission. The extent to which this will affect the proposals will vary from Authority to Authority and Conservation Officer to Conservation Officer. It is always prudent to establish an early dialogue with the Conservation Department – this will pay dividends in the long run.

    Time Scale

    All Planning Authorities aim to determine applications within 8 weeks of being registered.

    It varies greatly from authority to authority the time it will take and the level of dialogue they will engage in during the process.

    Conditions

    It is not uncommon for the Planning Authority to impose conditions to an approval. Standard ones include “work must be started within three years” but can also be items that require additional detail such as samples of products, compliance with code for sustainable home and with listed buildings joinery details are often required.

    Appeal

    If the Planning Authority refuses the application or takes too long to decide there is a right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. This is a remote process not carried out by the local Planning Authority, by a dispassionate third party Planning Inspector.


  • Party Wall


    In principle the Party Wall Act is in place to protect your neighbour’s property from damaged caused by your building works and protects you from false claims of damage by your neighbour.

    It also gives you certain rights of access to your neighbour’s property.

    It will not be relevant to every project or property.

    It comes in several forms from a simple exchange of letters between you and your neighbours to multiple party wall surveyors drawing up a party wall agreement.

    As your Consultant we cannot act as your Party Wall Surveyor but can assist in finding one for you.


  • Design Development & Building Control


    You can either wait for the planning approval to come through or press ahead with the design development. This is the Technical Development of the proposals. While they will have been taken into consideration in the earlier stages the technical issues are added to and developed into a set of drawings and notes for submission to the Local Authority’s or independent Building Control Inspector for approval. There are two stages and two fees due to the inspector for Building Control.

    If you press ahead before obtaining planning permission there will be an element of risk that the design work carried out may become redundant, with its associated costs.
    The Building Regulations exist to insure all building operations carried out to a property meet strict guidelines designed to protect the individual, the property and the environment.

    Issues covered include fire protection, means of escape, protection from collapse, conservation of energy, ventilation, electrical installation etc. The use of certified contractors registered within the approved contractor scheme can reduce the level of detail required at plan stage for some of the elements.

    Outside Consultants will be required for certain elements such as a Structural Engineer, Carbon footprint assessor and in the case of new houses Code for Sustainable Homes Assessors. Our fees do not include for these or any other outside consultant .

    A team approach is always the best way forwards and the early involvement of the Consultants can avoid duplication and unnecessary work further down the line.


  • Product Information


    Detailed information is produced to enable the contractor to price and build the scheme. The Building Regulation submission Notes and drawings form the basis of this pack. Additional items are:
    Outline Schedule
    This is a grid based document drawn up between the client and us itemizing what the clients expects to see in each room including finishes, fixtures, fittings and decoration, e.g. wall finishes and colour, floor finishes, number and type of lights, sanitary fittings, IT and home automation requirements etc. The more information provided the more accurate the contractors price will be.
    • Specific details needed for the contractor to be able to build the scheme that were not required to be detailed for the Building Regulation Submission.
    • Additional information required by the Planning Authority or in the case of leasehold property required by the Freeholder or Management Company.

  • Tender Process


    A Tender Documentation Pack is sent out to 3-4 contractors who have been contacted and expressed an interest in the project. We tend to work with a small selection of contractors who have produced work of an acceptable standard and price for our previous clients. We are of course open to using other contractors who have been recommended to you and whose work having been inspected is of an acceptable standard.

    Depending on the size of project a three week period is usually allowed for the contractors to price the works.

    We would expect all contractors to visit site and meet with you. It is important that all the contractors price the same documents as any variations caused by on site discussions will make direct comparison difficult.

    From these returns one or two contractors are chosen to go through in detail what is required leading to the final selection of the contractor and drawing up of the contract. Any amendments can be incorporated at this point before any contracts are signed.

    Detailed information is produced to enable the contractor to price and build the scheme. The Building Regulation submission Notes and drawings form the basis of this pack. Additional items are

    • Outline schedule – this is a grid based document drawn up between the client and us itemizing what the clients expects to see in each room including finishes, fixtures, fittings and decoration, e.g. wall finishes and colour, floor finishes, number and type of lights, sanitary fittings, IT and home automation requirements etc. The more information provided the more accurate the contractors price will be.

    • Specific details needed for the contractor to be able to build the scheme that were not required to be detailed for the Building Regulation Submission.

    • Additional information required by the Planning Authority or in the case of leasehold property required by the Freeholder or Management Company.

    A Tender Pack is compiled comprising

    • The survey Drawings

    • Building Regulation notes and drawings

    • The Schedule of finishes and fittings

    • Electrical layouts

    • Preliminaries – itemising the client details and any restrictions to the working on site

    • The Designers risk assessment

    (A full bill of quantities itemizing every item and quantity of materials is not normally produced for domestic projects. The additional expense on the part of the client and additional time to price by the contractor usually outweighing the benefits.)

  • Drawing-up of Contract

    All the documentation produced for the tender process together with the contractors pricing and a completed contract are produces in to a pack for both parties to agree and sign. Any changes made after this point are classed as variations and should be priced and agreed before being carried out.

    On most small domestic projects the role of Contract Administrator is not necessary and an additional expense to the client.

    The JCT Homeowners Contract provides an acceptable alternative frame work with the client and contractor dealing directly with one another.

    We are of course available to visit as and when required and to answer queries should they arise.


  • Contract Administration


    During the construction phase periodic site visits by the Contract Administrator are carried out. These are to see the general progress of the work and to check the contractors valuation of the work carried out to date is realistic. Short reports and valuation certificates are generated throughout the build.

    At the end of the works a certificate of practical completion is issues and the period of defect liability starts usually three or six months. At the end of this time the contractor will put right any defects that have arisen and the client releases the money retained as the final payment to the contractor.


  • Referral Scheme


    We firmly believe in the home and that it is a fundamental right for everyone to have one; so we regularly fundraise for Shelter – the housing and homelessness charity. As part of this commitment we pledge that we shall donate £25 to Shelter for every successful referral we receive from you.