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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
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…
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: https://ecab.planningportal.co.uk/uploads/welsh_application_fees.pdf 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free one-hour consultation.
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
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
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 .
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.
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
Following the last post in our ‘Design in winter / build in summer’ campaign, we’re back with the second instalment. Showcasing one of our favourite residential extensions from the past year as a case study, we talk you through our three stages of work with step by step images from the initial design stage right through to completion.
THE BRIEF: To create a new single story extension to the rear of the existing property for family room / kitchen space.
Stage one – Planning & Designing
Our client wanted to create an airy and light cooking/ entertaining space that would maximise their views over the surrounding countryside. Following collaborative design meetings, we came up with a scheme that encompassed a large kitchen extension. We allowed room for an island to act as a casual seating area and to provide further food preparation space – with a more formal dining area to the side. Opposite, we proposed a large orangery with an oversized roof light over a bright, relaxed, open plan entertaining area.
Stage Two – Detailed Design and Tender
Whilst Stage one is all about feasibility, planning and design – where we work with our client to produce a number of design options for their project and supporting them through any planning applications, stage 2 is where we apply our detailed understanding of construction and regulations to the drawings, to provide a comprehensive package for builders to work from that meets all the requirements set out in building regulations.
For this project we administered a tender package to several building contractors to get the best price and quality for the build works. In this instance our client chose to work with Tim and his team at TLC Building Services.
Stage Three – Contract and Project Overseeing
With TLC Building services now on board, we administered a contract between them and our client. This contract was based on our detailed drawings, our understanding of construction laws and contract negotiation. We oversaw all the building works onsite to ensure the work was delivered in line with our drawings, regulations and was the standard allowed for in the original tender.
Progression of work…
The building contractors began to dig the foundations for the new extension to which the drainage, pipework and any other services needed to be laid. All work required signing off from a buildings control inspector, following which the concrete footing needed to be poured into place and again approved by building control.
Next, the builders turned their attention to damp-proofing. This can be achieved in several ways, such as through a damp-proof course, damp-proof membranes or integral damp proofing. Following this step is an exciting stage where we see the framework of the new build coming to life. Below we can see the creation of the block and brickwork, with wall ties fixing the walls together. The contractor was busy making sure that the cavity walls were insulated and that the lintels for doors and window spaces were fitted correctly. Following which the builder began to assemble the internal walls and lay a floor screed.
At this point the contractor constructed the roof structure and completed the rafters which were fitted with membrane and covered with our client's choice of material – roofing tiles. The contractor also started work on fascia’s, guttering, drainpipes and soffits.
The next step was to add the doors and windows into the framework, complete the internal plumbing and electrics. It was at this stage where stud walls were erected and internal insulation fitted before plastering. Following this stage, the new kitchen and flooring was also completed. Our client chose to render the exterior of the property to match beautifully with the original part of the house.
With building work completed our clients received a final certificate of approval from the building control officer. After which all that was left to do was relax and enjoy their new space!
What our client thought about the process;
‘I found RA Architects through a Google search and took a chance as the business was pretty new. I was immediatel
y impressed by Richard's profession alism and his ideas. He listened to how we wanted to use our extension and came back with a number of options to talk through.
Once we had agreed a design and a cost Richard and Lewis took away all the pain – they drew up the planning application produced the tender documents and sourced a number of contractors for us to meet and submit a tender. It was reassuring to know that the people tendering were approved by Richard and had all the necessary insurances and track record in place. We decided upon TLC Building Services in Cardiff and we couldn’t have been happier. Tim and his team were the perfect fit for us and we would have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone. They worked tirelessly to build an extension we love and did so in good humor- they were a joy to have around. Richard and Lewis visited at regular intervals to inspect the project, again taking away any stress.
Throughout the process RA Architects exceeded our expectations and I will use them again for any future projects I undertake.’
We genuinely love this type of work as to make someone’s quality of life better, truly is the passion behind our practice. If you have a similar scheme in mind please do not hesitate to contact us on 01633 744144 to book a free 1 hour consultation.
You're embarking on a new project and are about to meet your architect to discuss your ideas. But before you do, we advise taking time before your initial meeting to gather your thoughts about the project and help set a clear brief from which your architect can work.
"The ultimate success of your project depends on the quality of your brief, your ability to clearly describe for your architect the requirements and functions of your building, and proposed methods of operation and management." RIBA, (Royal Institute of British Architects)
There are a few questions listed below which you may wish to think about. The answers should be able to help form a good starting point for your architect to design from.
What do you wish to achieve with your project?
Are you looking for a commercial new build or an extension to an existing home, maybe you are embarking on a leisure or educational scheme? Whatever the project it is useful to sum up simply what it is you are setting out to do.
(If applicable) Think about your current building.
Take a moment to list what works, what you like about it and similarly what doesn’t work and what you wish to change.
Who will be using the building and why?
For a residential home you will need to take into consideration the residents (plus any pets). For a public building it is useful to have a think about who would be visiting the space and why. For example, a library may be used by both staff working at the building and different members of the general public for study or community activities.
How will the rooms in the buildings be used?
Keeping with the library as an example, we may find the building may require staff rooms, community areas, spaces for children to learn and play, plus study areas in both individual and communal settings. A home environment may have different needs, would your family prefer open plan living? Think about your storage needs, what will you need to store in each space?
What do you need to prioritise?
For example will your property need to be wheelchair friendly? Do you work from home and need a quiet space to concentrate? Communicate to your architect what your property must have. It is also helpful to note anything that your property needs to fit, for example, if you wish for your super king bed to sit comfortably in your newly built bedroom, you need to let your architect know at the start. Likewise if you are passionate about creating an ultra-sustainable build, now is the time to discuss ways to achieve it.
Do you have a timescale in which to complete the work?
Your architect can discuss this with your contractor when your project goes to tender.
What is your budget?
It’s always best to be transparent about how much you wish to spend, so that your architect can maximise the design accordingly.
TOP TIP – Get registered on Pinterest! Share and gather images with your architect to help refine your design style and easily communicate likes and dislikes!
We offer a free one hour consultation where we meet with you at your property to discuss your ideas. Now that we are heading into winter it is the perfect time to start designing and planning. Just think, by spring next year your build will be under way and by summer the end result could be better than you could have ever imagined!