Hybrid Plan and Design
The process in brief! Contact us for full details.
The first step is to contact us for clear and 'easy to follow' instructions. But as a guide the process for any development involving planning applications, building regulations and/or structural calculations is as follows:
It is likely that your proposed alteration work, loft conversion, extension or development will need a form of application, to conform to current regulations. It is a sad fact that some construction companies will try to avoid making these applications to simplify their involvement or may inform you that your project requires no permission at all. Although this may be the case, it is more than likely NOT the case.
There are various forms of application that may apply to your project and your local council websites are always a good source of information of what is required.
However, as a guide, if your development falls within certain boundaries and within a certain criteria, it may be permitted under what is known as 'permitted development rights'. These rights allow certain developments to be undertaken without planning permission, but they will STILL likely need building regulations approval/involvement?
Planning Permission, in very basic terms, tells you whether you are allowed to proceed with a specific development/project, whether its appearance will fit in with the surroundings, whether it will have an impact on neighbours etc. Whereas Building Regulations tells you how it is to be carried out/built. We often describe Building Regulations as the 'lid of the box' to a jigsaw puzzle. Building Control (the body behind Building Regulations) are concerned with insulation, ventilation, structural elements, safety, fire protection, damp prevention, longevity etc. etc.
Planning Officers (PO's) and Building Control Officers (BCO's) are not from the same department, they do not generally work in the same office and they rarely communicate. Each has a job to do, so never expect that because you have spoken to one department, the other will be aware of the conversation!
The role of a BCO is to ensure that the project is carried out according to the current regulations and he/she will make regular site visits to satisfy themselves that the project is being carried out correctly.
These regulations should be clearly understood by your contractor and he/she should work in conjunction with clear and precise drawings to achieve what is required? Your contractor should have a very good knowledge of the current regulations. If not, alarm bells should start ringing in the distance. If your contractor suggests you ignore the drawings and change the specification to his preferred option, I would expect the alarm bells to be getting louder! It may be the case that your contractor has a preference in the way certain tasks are performed and this is totally acceptable, but ensure at all times that these changes are within regulations.
There are two routes to take when making a Building Regulations Application: The first is a Building Notice. Not checked by Building Control prior to works commencing and is typically used for smaller works such as wall removals and simple projects. The second option is a Full Plans Application, where prior approval and plan checking is carried out by a BCO, highlighting any issues that may need addressing prior to work commencing. This is the preferred route for clarity when undertaking extensions and conversions as any issues that need addressing will be raised prior to work commencing, ensuring the financials of the project should stay on track during the project.
There are two options when considering your BCO. One is to use a local authority Building Control Service and the other is to use a private Building Control Service, often referred to as Approved Inspectors. Both will offer the same service, both issue a recognised completion certificate. Cost wise, there should not be much difference, however, some Approved Inspectors are becoming slightly dearer of late.
In many cases, a development will involve the need for Structural Calculations. These are specific details relating to structural elements of a project. Typically where a wall is to be removed and masonry supported above, foundation designs created, steel work installed or various other aspects, a Structural Engineer will need to be employed to provide these details and specify how the structural design will operate. The Structural Calculations will form part of a Building Regulations Application and will be required by Building Control prior to the application being fully approved.
Unfortunately there are many rogues hidden within the construction industry, making huge profits from the ignorance of the public. This CAN be avoided. Use reputable companies, seek genuine references, ask for information on previous similar projects undertaken by your contractor and DO check them out! The rogues are woven into the industry at all levels, from Architects through to the Builders themselves. If you are employing an architect, ensure he can offer the full service required. Many are only capable of offering the planning drawings for example. When it comes to requiring Building Regulations, they are not able to assist. Therefore, the client will need to employ the services of someone who can, who will typically need to 'draw up' on their system, what you have already paid for with the original 'so called' architect! This means you could be paying twice for the same service?
Please do not accept low cost works as necessarily being a good deal. We are being called upon weekly to rectify the work of sub standard workmen who have taken on projects they are incapable of undertaking correctly.
We have lists of works and project failings we have been called in to assist the general public with and rectify. Most of which could have been avoided with a few simple checks. Please do get in touch for more details of what to look out for?