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.
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
One of the skills we pride ourselves on at RA Architects is our ability to help clients overcome planning constraints to gain a successful application outcome.
Each project we work on has individual planning considerations, however we thought it may provide an interesting insight to blog about one of our more contentious applications and the process undertaken by our colleague Cai to help secure planning approval for our private client.
The Vale of Glamorgan (Vale of Glamorgan Council.)
The Project Brief:
A change of use scheme where our client was looking to convert two retail units (one of which had lain dormant for several years) into a single residential dwelling.
Why did the Council recommend refusal?
The Vale of Glamorgan have a well-meaning policy (LDP policy MG15 as detailed below) which protects commercial units in local retail centres being converted to flats; however conversion to a residential dwelling is still permissible if it can be proven that the retail unit is no longer commercially viable.
For our client to be allowed to convert the property they needed to provide clear evidence that the shop units weren’t commercially viable. Our client submitted proof that they had tried to market the property for sale as retail units for several years but were unsuccessful.
One of the planners felt that the evidence submitted by our clients was not sufficient and suggested that the property could be rented or that our client could consider changing the use to other retail, commercial or community type services. The council questioned why there was not a ‘For Sale’ sign outside the property.
Our client responded that whilst every effort was made to market the building they did not agree to a ‘For Sale’ sign outside the property due to the potential negative impact it may have for the business of the client’s wife who ran a cake company from the larger unit.
Once the case officer confirmed that the evidence submitted by our client was deemed insufficient and the planners were going to recommend a refusal our clients called the application to planning committee.
What happens at a Vale of Glamorgan planning committee meeting?
The planning authority present the application and their recommendations and the applicant or agent (in this case Cai,) speak in favour of the scheme. The councillors then vote whether they wish to uphold the planners recommendation.
In this example, Cai explained the submitted evidence and also emphasised that the retail units were situated on the periphery of the retail centre, and were not a prominent frontage in the retail centre. As neighbouring retail units included a newsagents, pharmacy and Tesco express, Cai suggested that the change of use scheme would not affect the day to day needs of the local community.
The Councillors of the planning committee however upheld the planner’s recommendation and refused the application.
What can be done after planning has been refused?
Cai discussed the project with his clients and together they decided to appeal the planning decision. The case was passed to an independent, senior appointed planning inspectorate who would make a final decision. Cai wrote an appeal statement comprehensively explaining why he believed the application met the policy criteria.
What did the planning inspectorate find?
The planning inspectorate concluded that there was no evidence to suggest the marketing of the property had been insufficient and accepted our clients’ reasoning for the lack of a physical ‘For Sale’ board. The inspector also dismissed the council’s idea that the property could be tenanted if not sold. Commenting that ‘prolonging the period of vacancy of [the] retail units with no certainty that a sale could be achieved, would have a negative impact on the vibrancy of the centre.’
Finally, in consideration of all points raised by The Vale of Glamorgan council, alongside the evidence submitted by ourselves and our client the inspector approved the application.
If you are undertaking a project and would like to receive some advice regarding planning permissions, please do get in touch. Call the office on 01633 744144 or email email@example.com to arrange a free consultation.
There are a number of ways a person may seek to find an architect – most commonly through word of mouth referrals, via search engine sites or by asking on social media for recommendations. If using the latter how do you know which firms are competent and reliable to do the work you need, in the way you imagined?
Our top tips for choosing an architect!
- The first necessary step is to check they are registered with the ARB. (Architects Registration Board). The ARB was set up by the government to keep an official register of all individuals and practices who are legally entitled and qualified to use the patented term ‘architect’. You can check the architects register here – http://architects-register.org.uk/
- Whilst not a necessity we strongly advise using a RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Chartered Practice. (Click here to read why you should a choose a RIBA Chartered practice.)
- Thinking about your project do you need a specific skillset or service? For example, if you are working on change of use scheme it would be beneficial to choose a practice which can demonstrate experience within that sector. We recommend asking how many projects of that type the practice has worked upon, if there are any finished buildings you can visit or if they can supply a contact for testimonial.
- Put together a shortlist of architects to speak to in person about your plans. Most firms will offer a free consultation or initial discussion. This is a great opportunity for architects to demonstrate their creative ideas and general enthusiasm for your project.
- Ask the practice for their track record with approvals – try and suss out if they have a good relationship with local planners.
- The fee proposal – don’t necessarily go for the cheapest bid. Weigh up everything you have learnt about your potential architect so far. A good practice will always devote time to explaining their fee proposal and clarifying any points you may be unsure of.
Want to read more like this? Delve into our previous blog topics –
We would love to discuss your plans and ideas, contact the team today on 01633 744144 to arrange your free one hour consultation!
Following the Newport City Summit 2018 meeting that was recently held at The Celtic Manor Resort, our director Richard was interviewed by new South East Wales publication 'The Business' to discuss how we would approach the major changes soon to come to our city! Great magazine, highly worth a read!
CLICK TO VIEW>>>
We have explained in past posts, why working with an architect will save you money and we’ve also touched upon why you should choose a RIBA Chartered Practice, so we thought it may be useful to explain a few reasons why using an architect will minimise your build’s risk when working with a contractor.
We’ve all heard the horror stories and we’ve all seen ‘Cowboy Builders’. Choosing a contractor to carry out your building work can be a daunting task. How do you find a good builder – ask for recommendations on Facebook? Trawl through the yellow pages? Architects such as ourselves have a list of recommended contractors that have been proven to be reliable with an excellent standard of work.
Each project has a careful specification regarding the type and quality of materials to be used. We check that contractors who have tendered have adhered to our specifications and have provided an appropriate quote to reflect this. Through regular site visits we make sure that the materials and quality of work provided is at a standard reflected in the original tender and would be approved by building regulations. We also have a wealth of knowledge regarding product suppliers and can source the best products at the most competitive prices for our clients.
We ensure that every appointed contractor has the appropriate levels of insurance in place prior to starting work. Additionally we ourselves also have insurance in place, for example clients would be covered if in the rare instance an architect misspecified a building material. Architects also make sure that there is insurance to cover the replacement of contractors on site. This is a highly unusual event but would mean the client would not be out of pocket.
A common concern amongst our client is that the building costs will spiral from the original quote. A massive benefit of working with an architect is that we act as contract administrators for our clients and stipulate to our contractors that any additional costs/ changes must be sent to us in writing for us to inspect, advise upon and confirm with our clients. Builders cannot add on costs to items that have been specified and agreed upon in the original tender.
During the design and planning process of a build, architects take reasonable care and precaution to highlight any foreseeable hazards within the design of the building. Architects also undertake regular site visits, during which they can assess and ensure the safety of residents or visitors throughout the build.
It’s common to hear of builders, going off site for days and sometimes weeks at a time. To ensure this doesn’t happen to our clients, we work into the contract a timeline for the project. Occasionally unavoidable delays can happen, however an architect will work hard with the contractor to minimise delays and finish the project within the schedule originally quoted.
It is important to remember that architects do not gain any financial rewards or other benefits for completed buildings and can be trusted to remain an impartial ally throughout the build process. When you’re spending tens of thousands of pounds, if not more, why risk not using an architect!
If you have a project you'd like our help with, please do not hesitate to contact the office today!
As we are heading into winter it is the perfect time to start planning and designing your project ready for building work to commence in the spring and summer. We have complied a series of blog posts to equip and support you with as much information as possible through this process as part of our #designinwinterbuildinsppring campaign. Enjoy part one of our latest read, explaining why extensions are not as simple as you may think…
We are often approached by clients looking to maximise the space in their property through the addition of an extension. Whilst it may sound simple enough, there are many important considerations to be made when joining a new structure to an existing one and it isn’t always an easy process when each project is different with a unique set of challenges.
Architects need to determine how a potential extension might impact upon what is already existing at the property, even if it is not always immediately visible. Drainage is a prime example of this – architects need to check the position of drains, if they are private or shared, they will also look to see if there is a need to contact the water board for a build over sewer agreement.
There are other types of considerations to be made also. For example, will a potential extension be a concern for neighbouring buildings? Will the extension obscure the view for next door? Will the proposed window placements be a cause for complaint? If the extension is to be built astride a boundary wall then a party wall agreement will need to be in place.
Architects will also think about how the local planning office may respond if the proposed works extend beyond permitted rights development, they will also be checking if there are certain legal permissions that need to be adhered to. Whenever there is a modification to an existing building, then there is a need to apply for building regulations in order to obtain Building Control approval. This means submitting a set of drawings to the local authority and having on-site inspections by the Building Control Officer during the build.
Is the site within a conservation area or an area of ecological interest? If the development is within a conservation area then the planning application will need to be assessed by Conservation Officers as well as going through the usual local authority procedures, where a Design and Access statement explaining the designer's intended design ethos needs to be submitted also.
Are there physical concerns with the build? Will certain materials need to be used or avoided? How will the new structure attach to the old building in a way that will ensure it is watertight, insulated and sound proofed?
These are just a few examples in which an architect may need to examine, plan and research in detail prior to the fun part of actually designing your build. Your architect will be able to advise you of the individual concerns for your property at initial visits and solutions for how they will overcome these obstacles.
Once architects physically find a way to connect the new to the old, whilst designing a structure that both addresses potential challenges and at the same time satisfying the client’s design brief, they then need to be able to communicate all this information across to the contracted builders.
So as you can see there is a vast amount of work that goes in behind the scenes before a builder even steps foot on site. Our very own practice has great experience with extensions for both residential and commercial schemes and we currently offer a free 1 hour consultation to discuss new projects.
Part two of this post, will showcase a recently completed residential extension from the design brief right through to the completed home. It is a great opportunity to become familiarised with the stages of work involved, get an idea of how we looked to overcome the challenges for this particular scheme and see through a series of photographs how our client’s ideas are refined and brought to life. We also have a testimonial from our client explaining how she found the process of working with us. Packed full of top tips and advice it is not to be missed.
You can keep up to date of our latest news and blogs here and please feel free to contact the team on 01633 744144 to discuss your own project.