STEP BY STEP GUIDE
THE DESIGN AND PLANNING PROCESS
Book appointment with Architect/Designer
Appointing a qualified architect/designer who will talk you through your designs to help you create the best use of space possible.
Once existing floor plans and elevations are completed work can begin on proposed ideas for you design.
Plans costs start
from as little as £500
Once appointed the designer/architect will visit your home/site and measure each room and exterior. They will then put together the existing plans.
Once designs are finished and both architect and client happy both existing and proposed floor plans and elevations will be submitted along with design access statements, location plans and site layouts.
These will be submitted to your local council for a decision.
You can appeal a planning decision if:
You disagree with the judgement (and can provide a compelling argument)
Planning application fees will depend on your design
Most applications will be decided with in 8 weeks longer for major developments.
Your local authority will either decided to grant planning permission, grant permission with conditions, or refuse.
If planning is granted work can start on building regulations .
Do you need Building regulations?
Projects that need Building Regulation approval:
Erection of a new building
Extension or alteration of an existing building
If you’re providing services or fittings in a building, such as drainage, replacement windows, and fuel burning appliances of any type.
Many types of electrical works on buildings.
SPECIFICATION OF WORKS
Specification of Works
Putting your project out for tender is when a homeowner looks to secure the services of a contractor.
It’s an important part of any project, whether that’s renovation, conversion, or extending. Get it right, and you’ll have a contractor that’s ideal for your home, and will help make your plans a reality. But get it wrong, and it can lead to nightmare scenarios of poor craftsmanship, lost finances, and incomplete work.
To make sure you stay in the right lane, here’s our best tendering advice…
When to go out for tender
You can go out for tender as soon as you’ve settled on a design for your project.
That being said, we recommend waiting until you’ve sorted out your building regulations. That’s because, in order to gain building regulations approval, you need to supply your local authority with detailed drawings of your upcoming project, covering…
With all these details in hand, your perspective contractors will be able to provide not only more accurate quotes, but they’ll also be able to build with confidence, knowing the ins and out of your project’s requirements.
Can you manage the project yourself?
What do Project Managers do?
A project manager is there to organise the creation of your build, making sure your project is completed on time, on budget, and has a quality finish. They’ll oversee contractors and/or subcontractors, and deal with building controls, health and safety, and the utility companies. On top of this, they’ll also be coordinating any other professionals involved, such as your structural engineer. Basically, they wear a lot of organising hats.
Could I Project Manage my own build?
Project managers can cost between 15-25% of your construction budget. The smaller the project, the higher the percentage. So, it’s no surprise that some people opt to become their own project managers. However, there’s a reason a professional option exists - project management can be a lot of work! Here’s some things to consider before you take on the task.
Do you have the time?
Project managing your own project is very time intensive. For projects like loft conversions, or extensions, you’re going to want to be visiting the site at least once a day.
To help with this, you might opt to live in your home while the work goes on, but this too has its downsides. You’ll have to compensate for the room lost to construction - a challenge if it’s your kitchen. And you’ll have to keep the rest of your home functional. Make no mistake, construction doesn’t stay contained in one area. Think about noise, dust, rubble, and what might have to be switched off.
If this doesn’t sound ideal, you might rent somewhere nearby. This makes your homelife easier but will add on costs, plus the longer your build takes, the more rent you’ll be paying. Worth noting that most projects that have the homeowner as manager tend to take longer than those managed by a professional.
Are you tough enough?
Something will go wrong, if it doesn’t you’re the luckiest person in the world. You need to make sure you’re the type of person who can deal with upheaval, who acts calm under pressure.
You’ve also got to be tough. If a hire you’ve made doesn’t work out, are you going to be able to fire them? Letting a person go is unpleasant, but it can sometimes be necessary.
Protect your money
Before construction begins, get your builder to agree to a payment schedule.
Our recommend way of structuring pay is to find a builder who will fund the project, and then pay them based on evaluations. This will involve you giving a deposit upfront, then releasing payment once certains milestones have been met, and having that work assessed by a contract administrator, such as your architect.
Another option is to get your builder to sign a JCT homeowners contract. These allow you to pay your contractor in stages, rather than big lump sums.
To learn more about protecting your money, check out our builders guide.
Get your documents in order
If you’re not one for organising, you’re going to have to learn to get into it fast.
Keep all your paperwork in one place, and make digital copies if you can. Everything from invoices, emails, to estimates. You’ll also want to keep your copies of insurance certificates close to hand, and check for public liability and employers’ liability insurance.
Public liability insurance covers you in case a member of the public is injured by your construction. Employers liability covers injury claims made by anyone working for you.
You might also consider keeping a project diary, documenting your build day to day. This will help you understand if everything is running on track, and help you know what decisions were made when, and by whom.
Make sure you pick the best professionals
One of your biggest tests will be hiring contractors that are able to get your project off the ground. Cowboy builders are something you often hear talked about, here's some tips on making sure you avoid them...
Pricing - is it too expensive, too cheap? Chances are, if the price looks too good to be true, there’s probably a reason.
Do they want to visit your property? Having no interaction with your site is a bad sign.
Ask to be put in contact with their previous clients and ideally visit their home - never trust a builder who won’t let you see their previous work.
Get at least three pricing estimates and discuss how it might be subject to change. For instance, materials go up and down in price, has this been factored in?
CHOOSING YOUR CONTRACTOR