FAQs and Useful Building Planning information | Acre Design

Architectural Design FAQs

General Architect FAQs

What is it like to work with Acre Design Newcastle?

At Acre Design, we love what we do. Our team works closely with our clients to co-create their dream homes. We are a busy practice built on the imaginations and expertise of a large team of creatives. As friendly professionals, we love to discuss your ideas and needs for your home – creating an honest and open relationship with our clients is paramount to us.

With us, you will receive exceptional customer service – all projects are equally as important. Our Office Manager, Laura, is available by telephone or email should you require an update or need advice. You will updated at every stage of your project and our pricing is as transparent as possible from day one.

Your free Ask the Expert Call will give you a much more detailed idea of our costs as well as potential total build costs for your home extension project.

How much does it cost?

You should budget between 5-10% of your total build costs for Design fees using Acre Design, this includes structural calculations (if required) and any necessary Council fees. We charge on an hourly basis for our work at £70 per hour plus VAT. The time  it takes to complete each stage will depend on a number of aspects:

  • We are required to measure the existing, so the bigger the house, the more time it will take;
  • The complexity of the existing house. A bungalow takes less time to draw that a stately home;
  • The scope of the works. The larger the project the more time it will take to complete the proposals;
  • The complexity of the proposals. If you are looking for a cantilever balcony from a zinc clad dormer window this takes longer than a simple detached garage, for example; and
  • Planning requirements. For example, a project in a conservation area will need a Heritage Statement and Design and Access Statement to be submitted with your planning application; whereas some projects may not require any planning permission.

Your free Ask the Expert Call will give you a much more detailed idea of our costs as well as potential total build costs for your home extension project.

Do you cover my area?

We work mostly in the following North East and Teesside areas:

  • Newcastle
  • Cramlington
  • Gosforth
  • Tynemouth
  • Whitley Bay
  • North Shields
  • Cullercoats
  • Jesmond
  • Heaton
  • Forest Hall
  • Ponteland
  • Darras Hall
  • Kenton
  • Long Benton
  • Bedlington
  • Cleadon
  • Whitburn
  • Gateshead
  • Morpeth

Please don’t hesitate to give us a call if your area is not on the list. For the right project we are happy to travel further (we have completed projects as far South as Berkshire, and as far North as Aberdeen).


Why do I need a measured survey?

The measured survey is a critical part of the process. We will take accurate measurements of every possible area of your home as well as recording other relate details.

During your measured survey, we can also identify: the load bearing paths, drainage runs, service and meter positions, neighbouring buildings close to the boundary, proximity of any trees which may effect the foundation design and any differences in levels.

This information will enable us to create a highly detailed 3D model of the property on our design software. We then use this model to prepare our concept designs for your home extension. By gathering as much information as possible at the measured survey it means that your home extension plans can be expertly detailed and accurate, eventually mitigating delays onsite and saving you money.

What types of projects do you work on?

At Acre Design, our team have completed over 600 projects in Newcastle, the North East and throughout England and Scotland. The types of projects that we have designed are:

Take a look at some recent examples of the types of projects we have worked on here.

Planning Permission/Building Regulation Approval

How much are planning application fees?

You can find the up-to-date information on prices for planning applications here.

We are experts in local planning guidelines and will be able to give you clear and accurate information regarding planning permissions requirements for your project.

How do I get Planning Permission?

If you choose Acre Design, we will act as your agent throughout the planning and design process. Once you are happy with the final design we will then submit your Planning Application to the appropriate Council through the Planning Portal. Acre Design will copy you in on all emails; this means that you can keep an eye on your application on the relevant Council’s website. You can also view your planning application online.

Do I need Planning Permission?

The majority of building projects need planning permission, however, some rear extension, loft conversions, garage conversions, summer houses etc. may not need planning.  The easiest way to find out is to book in a free ‘Ask the Expert Call‘ with Acre Design. during this call, we will be able to discuss your ideas, talk you through our process and make you aware of the relevant Planning Permission and Building Regulation approvals that you may need. We will also apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development where required, this is really useful if you come to sell your home in the future.

If I don't need Planning Permission, do I still need plans?

Think of your building project as a massive piece of IKEA furniture. You probably wouldn’t buy it unless it came with the instructions to put it together and if you did buy it, you’d probably not end up with the piece of furniture you wanted.

That’s why spending a small percentage on detailed plans is so important. Planning your space and really considering how you will live in it, will ensure you end up with the home you always dreamed of. Builders love following our plans as they provide all of the information they require to do an excellent job, on time and within budget.

Am I guaranteed permission?

Like any architecture firm, Acre Design can’t guarantee planning approval, however, we only take projects on that – with our experience – will likely be approved. With over 600 projects completed in the North East, we have an expert knowledge of all local planning requirements. We will try our hardest for Planning Permission to be granted the first time but sometimes that’s just not the case.

We usually make a pre-planning application to see how the planners feel about a scheme. Pre-planning lets us know if the final design will be accepted or not. If amendments are needed, this is the time to make minor changes to the design, with the client, to give us the best chance of gaining an approval.

How long does Planning Permission take?

Planning Permission usually takes around eight weeks from application.

What are Building Regulations?

Building Control do not care about the size of a building, nor what it looks like. They are concerned only with how it is built. This is where our detailed technical plans come in, they take care of things like fire safety, drainage systems, ventilation, insulation, safety from falling, glazing requirements as well as anything that falls under health and safety.

Our Managing Director, Alistair Crerar, has over ten years of experience working in Building Control. This makes us experts in the field.

Do I need Building Regulations for a small extension?

Some porches, outbuildings (non-heated and below a certain size) and conservatories are exempt from Building Regulations. However, it’s best you discuss this with an expert to confirm these requirements. You can book a free ‘Ask he Expert Call’ with Acre Design here.

If your new extension will be heated from your central heating you will almost certainly need to let Building Control know. This is so that they can make sure your project is built to the current Building Regulations and check the insulation levels, as well as a number of other aspects. They do this by checking the architectural plans first for compliance, they then make sure your contractor is building it on site as per our detailed technical drawings.

It is worth noting that if you ever sell your home the buyers solicitors will ask for the paperwork, so it is best to have all this sorted before you start building.

How much can I extend my house without Planning Permission?

The planning department is always very busy with big and complex applications. To speed the planning process up the government have allowed home owners to carry out certain extensions to their home under what is called permitted development rights. Acre Design will always get confirmation that planning isn’t required from the council (in case you sell and the solicitors ask for it).  Generally speaking, you are allowed to build the following extensions without planning:



Anything more than 4m in height will need Planning Permission though (two stories) and if you live in a conservation area or in a listed building you will need to apply for full planning. Even if you don’t need planning, you will require Building Control approval for all of the above projects. If you need to get quotes from builders, they will also want to see detailed construction plans.

How big an extension can I build without needing Planning Permission?

Any extension must not cover more than 50% of your current garden, this is to protect your outside space for future generations. After that, it kind of depends on the type of house you live in. If you are in a detached house, miles from a neighbour you are allowed under permitted development to build quite a large extension. So long as you use matching materials and it doesn’t go higher than 4 metres at its highest part. Plus, a couple of other rules that don’t usually cause an issue.


Side extensions – If you plan to go out to the side, it mustn’t be more than half the width of your existing house, single storey in general. It also must not be forward of the principal elevation of the

host dwelling.

Rear extensions – If you are looking to build on the back of your house, you can go up to 3 metres in an attached house or 4 metres if it is a detached house.

Loft or garage conversions – Loft conversions can be built without planning permission with only Velux windows.

If your loft conversion requires a dormer to increase head height or space then this will require planning permission and must not be on the front of the property.  You must not extend over any porches or any previous extensions.

Do your fees include the planning application costs or the building regulation fees?

Our quotes don’t include these fees for a few reasons. They are variable and are dependent on the design we agree on and what the council might ask for. Our pricing is very clear throughout, any additions that either building control or the planning department ask for are not included. Sometimes, they ask for a whole array of strange things like a bat survey, water consumption calculation, structural calculations or a ground investigation report. If we included all these things you’d pay more than was absolutely necessary.

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