Building an extension – What you need to know




Guide to Building an Extension

Building an extension is one of the most popular ways of improving your living space, whilst avoiding the hassle and expense of moving. Having an extension may well also add value to your existing property.

Building an extension is a big commitment and there is a lot of information you need to know before embarking on your project.

What Permissions/Consents do I require before Building an Extension?

Planning Permission

Depending on the size and position of your extension, you might not require planning permission. This will depend on whether your proposed extension complies with Permitted Development (PD).

 The easiest way of determining whether your proposed extension falls under permitted development is by referring to the interactive house on the planning portal website.

 For Wales:

For England:


Permitted development rights can be restricted in designated areas, such as: Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation Areas, etc. There are also situations where they do not apply, for example: if your property is a Listed Buildings or if the original house’s planning consent had a condition which restricts permitted development.

 RA Architects can help you to understand whether your proposed extension complies with permitted development guidelines, and if not, how likely your project is to gain planning consent. Call now to book a site visit with one of our team members.

 What is a Lawful Development Certificate? And Do I Need One?

A Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) merely provide confirmation (from the Local Authority Planning Department) that a proposed extension meets PD requirements. So, getting a Lawfulness Certificate is not necessary if you are confident the proposed extension meets these criteria. However, you might want to get a Lawfulness Certificate anyway, to keep with the deeds of the house, so that any future purchaser knows that the extension is lawful. A Lawful Development Certification application costs £103 in England or £95 in Wales.

Listed Buildings

All alterations to listed buildings, including internal ones, require consent and it is a criminal offence to alter a listed building without it. If these alterations would usually not require planning permission, then consent can be sought through a Listed Building Consent application.

The planners will always regard the existing listed property as more important than what you are proposing to add to it. Any extension will therefore have to respect the character, appearance and historic material used in the construction of the original house.


Building Regulations

Whether you require planning consent or not, if you are proposing a heated extension to your home, you will need to make sure you comply with Building Regulations. There are two methods of getting Building Control Approval:

Full Plan Submission: send detailed plans to your local authority building control or approved inspector prior to get approval for the proposed scheme. The building inspector would then visit the site at several stages to check that the works are being completed in line with the approved drawings.

 Building Notice: With this method, you submit an application to the local authority building control or approved inspector, notifying them of the work shortly before it starts (check individual company for the required notice). Building inspectors will then inspect the work at various stages to ensure it complies with Building Control requirements.

A Building Notice is the riskier option as you may only find out you have a compliance issue once building work has started. This may be costly to correct.

Having a set of detailed drawings from an Architect can help avoid this issue.  RA Architects can provide comprehensive detail drawings and notes, to help your contractor to price accurately and ensure the proposed works comply with the Building Regulations.


Party Wall Consent

If building your extension involves either:

  • Excavating, or excavating for and constructing foundations for a new building or structure, within 3 metres of any part of a neighbouring owner’s building or structure, where any part of that work will go deeper than the neighbour’s foundations
  • Excavating, or excavating for and constructing foundations for a new building or structure, within 6 metres of any part of a neighbouring owner’s building or structure, where any part of that work will meet a line drawn downwards at 45° in the direction of the excavation from the bottom of the neighbour’s foundations

You must inform the Adjoining Owner or owners by serving a notice. A Party Wall Surveyor can advise you further on this process and what to do if your neighbour does not accept the notice.

For further information, refer to:


Build Over Sewer Consent

Should you find yourself with a sewerage system within 3 metres of your property, it is mandatory for you to apply for a build over sewer agreement with your water supplier. This is carried out with an assessment and trace of the sewer line which will also determine ownership. This is difficult to receive so keep this in mind when planning your build. For further information regarding these, please follow the link –


What other things should I Consider Before Building an Extension?

Site Access

How easy will it be for equipment and materials to be delivered to your home when building an extension? You’ll need to consider how deliveries of large items will be undertaken. You’ll also need to determine where a builder and their sub-contractors will park and store their tools.

Demands upon Your Services

We recommend giving your current services a review. It is important to confirm whether your current services will be able to sustain the added room. For example, while replacing the boiler is an option, you could also look at alternatives such as electric underfloor heating, this is a beneficial way of heating a room without over working the facilities.


It is important to notify your home insurer of the proposed work. Some may not provide cover during the works and others will offer dedicated extension insurance products.

Why you can’t afford to NOT use an architect…





Why you can’t afford to not use an architect…

When it comes to a building project, we all want to make our budget stretch as far as possible. If you’ve already got a builder in mind to complete the work, it may seem tempting to skip the step of hiring an architect completely. But we’re going to explain why using an architect will actually save you money.


A good Architect (and we do recommend using a RIBA Chartered Practice) will start by working with you to fine tune your ideas. Up to date with building regulations and practices they will quickly be able to let you know if your proposal is feasible and will put you in the best position in regards to submitting planning applications.


The architect will manage the design and build process for you, which includes liaising with building regulation officers and the planning department. Taking control in this way not only ensures the build runs as smooth as possible but also helps to avoid costly (and timely) disputes.


An architect will also assist in the selection of a contractor. Making sure they are adequately insured and competent. Your architect will convey your vision to the building team and will make thorough checks that all work is safe and adheres to both building regulations and your original plans.


Architects also abide by a statutory plan of works and will also be insured themselves which goes further to minimise risk for your build.


And finally, with a vast knowledge of construction, an architect will take in to consideration building materials and the design brief itself in order for you to maximise your budget and help avoid expensive mistakes, thus generating lower running costs of the overall project.


If you’d like to find out more about our process and how we work as a practice we have a quick and easy to watch video explaining all our stages of work. 

















Open Plan Living

Free flowing kitchens - 1


If you are designing your new home, an open floor plan with a seamless transition from the indoor space to an outdoor veranda is a great feature to include. Open layouts are becoming more and more popular in modern homes as they give the illusion of a bigger space, provide more natural sunlight and outdoor views, and create a more safe and social environment.

To create the feel of one large and connected space, abolish any distractions or eye sores and use floor to ceiling glass where possible. Finish off using similar flooring and wall papering/ paint to complete a flush, modern look that gives the illusion that the space is one. A veranda offers many benefits, these include adding value to a home and providing additional space.

Not only will your room have the illusion of being bigger, you will feel closer to nature. Using large floor to ceiling windows with minimal lines will bring in natural sunlight and allows you to enjoy the landscapes of your home.


Small Spaces, Big Ideas!


Small spaces, Big ideas!!


 With the benefits of living in the City Centre growing rapidly, more and more people are searching for their perfect home. The only downside is according to a report released by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, we are living in “rabbit hutch Britain”, with new homes ranking as the smallest in Europe.

There are three principal reasons for this: no legal minimum exists for the size of a home in Britain; in the past decade many studios and one- and two-bed flats have been built; and the cost of land here often prohibits larger properties.

So with this in mind, adaptability is key when it comes to fitting your lifestyle into a small home. Incorporating hidden storage and plenty of light can make any home feel bigger and brighter.


Petite properties – Top tips

  1. Give the illusion of space with floor-to-ceiling mirrored cupboards. 
  2. Hang hooks on the back of doors. And hang clothes up out of sight instead of over chairs.
  3. Install a foldaway table in a small kitchen.
  4. Fix a shelf above the bed if there’s no space for a table.
  5. Don’t waste the dead space under a bed.
  6. To save wardrobe space keep belts, scarves and ties in order with a multi-use hanger.







Listed Buildings Don’t Have to Be Old!

Did you know that buildings don’t have to be old to be listed? Listing was started in 1947 as part of the Town and County Planning Act to guard specific properties for post-war builders. To be listed, a building needs to be of particular architectural or historic interest.






Completed in 1987, the Inmos Microprocessor Factory in Newport is of particular architectural interest and was listed in 2007. The reason why this factory is listed is that it has a unique design structure. The architect, John Young, designed all of the exteriors of the building as the support systems, which meant that no columns are holding it up inside. This building was also designed as a sort of kit so that it could be constructed quickly in many different places. This design additionally ensures that there would be no disturbances to the running of the factory if any extensions were to be added.

Three Benefits of Adding a Balcony to Your Home






1.      Brings the outdoors to even the smallest of spaces – Even if it is being added onto a flat, having a balcony could allow an owner to have their slice of paradise. Smaller balconies are usually seen with mini gardens that their owners have created, or even a small set of table and chairs so that they can sit outside and drink tea or coffee on a summer’s morning. Larger balconies, however, could have the potential to bring families together. If big enough, they can house barbeques and be the ideal location for get-togethers with family or friends.


2.      Lets in air and sunlight – Another benefit of a balcony is that it gives a lot more air and sunshine to the adjacent room. If one side of your property doesn’t get that much sunlight, then a balcony would be perfect. Having doors instead of a small window would guarantee a lot more sunshine going into that room. It’s also sometimes hard to bring air into a particular area of the property too, especially if the room only has a small window. A balcony could additionally solve that problem as a more significant draught would be coming in from the open doors. It would also be beneficial in the summer as a natural breeze would help to make a room less hot and stuffy.


3.      Enjoy the view – The most obvious benefit of having a balcony is the view. Instead of just looking at it from a window, you can embrace the scenery by stepping outdoors and see a broader panoramic landscape. 

Change of Use & Planning Permission – What You Need to Know

Change of Use - Image


Do I Need Planning Permission? 


If you are looking to change the use of a property, there are many things that you need to know before going ahead. One of these things is whether planning permission will be necessary.


Planners categorise all buildings by their use class, i.e. offices, dwellings, etc. Certain use classes can be converted to other certain use classes without needing planning permission. This is called permitted development. Please note that permitted development policies vary between England and Wales.


For example, if you wanted to change a restaurant into a hairdresser’s, planning this change of use class does not require planning permission as it is permitted development. However, if the hairdressers were going to be converted into a restaurant, planning permission would be required as there is no permitted development right for this conversion in Wales.


We recently worked on a project that required planning permission for a change of use. We were approached by our client to assist with the conversion of a doctor’s surgery into six apartments. The doctors’ surgery and the apartments needed planning permission from the local authority due to being in different use classes. 


What Is Needed When Applying for Planning Permission? 


The following documents have to be included within the application to apply for planning permission; 


•    Relevant plans of the site and elevations if there are any alterations to the facades.  

•    Supporting documentation. 

•    The Application Form. 

•    The correct fee. Learn how to calculate this for both Wales and England.

Wales: and for



The Local Planning Authority then decides whether to grant the planning and will usually make a decision within eight weeks. 


What Influences the Local Planning Authority’s Decision? 


 They base their decision on the following criteria: 


•    The number, size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings. 

•    The infrastructure available, e.g. roads and water supply. 

•    Any landscaping needs. 

•    What you want to use the development to be. 

•    How your development would affect the surrounding area, e.g. if it would create lots more traffic.


Do I need Building Regulations for my Project?


If your change of use does not require planning permission, it may mean that your project still needs building regulations.


Still Not Sure If Your Project Needs Planning Permission? 


If you’re still not sure that your project requires planning permission, the best option is to chat with people who will know. Our architects can advise if your project needs planning permission or even building regulations.


If you are undertaking a project and would like to receive some advice regarding planning permissions or building regulations, please get in touch. Call the office on 01633 744144 or email to arrange a free one-hour consultation.

How to Survive Architecture School

how to survive (1)


Autumn is in full swing and that means many students around the country have returned to their desks at architecture school. For the majority, this time is a mixture of excitement and enthusiasm, but for others, it’s a mixture of anxiety and sleepless nights.  Studying architecture is not an easy option, that’s for sure. Having said that, pursuing an architectural education, can be fulfilling, character building, and can set you on a path to a rewarding career.

Here are tips to help you succeed and excel in your architecture studies:

1.    Time management

By starting to organise the life according to a specific system, it is possible to achieve a whole new level of productivity.

You may use time-saving apps, like IFTTT and Pocket  if you have to handle too many tasks in a single day. Plan your assignment carefully by breaking it down on small sections in order to reach the end goal. To keep track of all daily tasks and set priorities, you may use a simple app like Clear . Do not put things off and start working on your assignments as soon as possible. 

Get some sleep! Continuous lack of sleep is a serious cause of stress that may even lead to mental health issues later in life as per this RIBA article  .It should all be about a healthy work balance.

In some situations, you’ll need to say ‘no’ when you have tight deadline for an assignment. It is about learning what is important to you in order to get through your studies and do well.

             2.    Take care of yourself

Our associate Lewis at the Welsh Velothon

Our associate Lewis at the Welsh Velothon


Taking care of yourself is paramount to the success of your studies. Eat healthy food, Exercise regularly, Get enough sleep and Rest.

Taking care of all aspects of you will increase the likelihood that you achieve more. Being and feeling healthy will improve self-esteem and keep you confident. Your positive attitude will spread throughout your assignments and presentations demonstrating your enthusiasm for the subject.


3.    Get some work experience

Internships, work experiences, work shadowing or anything that will help you to prepare for work and develop general business awareness. Start thinking ahead.

Try working at architectural practice, on construction site, engineering office and other places related to architecture or construction. It’s all useful, and should all go on your CV .


4.    Learn to draw

Take your time to do lots of practice. It is a very useful skill and brainstorming tool that can help you develop ideas individually or as part of a team. Sketching helps you show a concept to a team or client, come up with potential solutions quickly, and help better understand a project yourself.


5.    Learn how to speak well in public

Director Richard at BCWAC presentation

Director Richard at BCWAC presentation


With thorough preparation and practice, you can overcome your nervousness and preform exceptionally well. Being a good public speaker can enhance your reputation, boost your self-confidence, and open up countless opportunities.

To become a better speaker, use the following strategies – Plan appropriately, Practice, Engage with your audience, Pay attention to body language, Think positively, Cope with your nerves and Watch recordings of your speeches.

During your studies you will have a good opportunity to practice the presentation of your work to people. So, start planning your communication appropriately. Use tools like Rhetorical Triangle and The 7 Cs of Communication .


6.    Network

Networking is an essential part of advancing your career. You need to connect with others – whether by becoming member of an association or getting involved with local architectural events. It’s more likely you get help with some work experience or new job through who you know and at the same time meeting the array of new interesting people for you to learn from.

RA Architects


7.    Embrace criticism

From time to time you may deal with your work being criticised. Try not to take it personally and not to overreact. Learn how to respond to your critics

Learn from what people are saying and move on. Constructive criticism will allow you to improve and become a better architect.


8.    Don’t give up

You knew it would not be easy. So, keep on going and do your best. You will eventually reach your goal.

‘Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about’. – Sir Winston Churchill




Case Study: Independent Living Studio Apartment

Independent living studio apartment by RA Architects

Architect: Richard Andrews Architects

Works Undertaken: Feasibility and planning, detailed design and tender plus contract and project overseeing.

Client: Private Domestic Client

Cost of Work: Undisclosed

Contractor: So Exclusive Developments 


The Brief:

We were approached by our client and their family to help design a new build studio apartment within the grounds of their existing family home. As our client has a disability that affects mobility and is dependent upon using a wheelchair it was essential that we designed a fully level home, that allowed circulation paths for the wheelchair throughout all the rooms. We encorporated wide external and internal doorways and included a ramp leading from the rear decked terrace to a garden area below.

The large bedroom and ensuite was designed to give ample space for hoist access to the bed and bath with the addition of a wetroom style shower, lowered WC and stylish vanity units. 

Another consideration we needed to address was that our client also required a team of carers present at all times. We wanted to design a home that not only allowed our client their privacy and living space but also gave sufficient space for visiting guests and carers. We proposed an upstairs wing, with private bedrooms, a small sitting/study area and a bathroom with shower enclosure. 

r278 studio front exterior r278 studio front door R278 studio interior 2 r278 studio interior r278 studio living room r278 studio kitchen r278 studio kitchen 2 r278 studio level floor exampler278 studio independent living bedroom r278 studio independent living bathroom r278 studio accessible vanity unit r278 independent living studio wetroom r278 studio - upstairs hallway r278 studio upstairs landing r278 upstairs bedroom


Making someone's quality of life better truely is the passion behind our practice. If you have a project you'd like our help with call our team on 01633 744144 or email



Career Vacancy – Administration / Marketing Assistant



We are currently looking for an experienced administration / marketing assistant to join our friendly team, on a part time basis of 14 hours per week Thursday – Friday. To find out more about the role, please continue reading our candidate specification below. 



To provide all round administrative and marketing assistance to the Director and office.



- To co-ordinate an effective front line response to telephone calls to agreed service standards, passing on telephone calls to the appropriate person or taking messages;

- Carry out client invoicing and help with chasing up of invoices;

- Helping with company accounts – assisting our external Accountant with information;

- Administration of Internal/External Post system;

- Provide general office support and carry out general correspondence, filing and other administrative and office duties as required;

- To provide personal assistant duties to the Director including managing and maintaining the Director’s email account, diary management and ensuring correspondence is dealt with in a timely manner;

- Assist with the maintenance of computer files and databases and undertake data inputting as required;

- Keep Company’s WordPress website and  social media accounts, mainly Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, up-to-date by posting project information,  news, etc. on a regular basis as well as assisting in preparation of blog content;

- At the discretion of the Practice Manager, to prepare promotional literature on behalf of Richard Andrews Architects Ltd;

- To assist in the organisation of promotional events and meetings and as required;

-To occasionally attend networking events;

- Undertake any other duties as required commensurate with the post’s grading or general level of responsibility;

- Demonstrate informed commitment to equal opportunities, diversity and associated policies;

- To adhere to Health and Safety Legislation/relevant Policies and Procedures and to take reasonable care for the health and safety of yourself and other persons who may be adversely affected by your acts/omissions;


The above is not an exhaustive list of duties and you will be expected to perform different tasks as necessitated by your changing role within the organisation and the overall business objectives of the organisation.




A level standard or equivalent

Experience of working in an office environment

Experience of dealing with clients

High level of administrative ability

Good communicator, both written and oral

Good computer skills especially with Microsoft Office

Ability to work effectively with a wide range of people

Great attention to detail

Good at managing tasks and prioritising workload


Effective contributor to a team

A desire to show initiative

Ability to work with minimum supervision

Ability to stay calm under pressure



Previous Marketing experience

Experience of maintaining WordPress websites and other social media platforms


If you'd like to apply please send a CV and covering letter explaining why you think you're right for the role to 



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