21 Sep The 8 key stages of preparation before you extend your home
Choosing the correct design firm.
Every project needs to start somewhere. And when extending your home, the first thing you should do is decide who is going to help you turn your dreams into reality. Whoever you pick, you need to make sure they have enthusiast! And if you pick us, you will see our excitement shine through…
The next step once you have appointed your designer and set the agreed schedule and payment terms is to book the full measured survey of the existing house and gardens. Here someone (or a team of people) will call around and measure every room inside and each face of the house outside. This survey will include your drainage locations, window sizes, floor and ceiling levels. They will show radiator and boiler positions as well as your meters and manholes. So that any work affecting these can be shown on the plans.
Once the house has been measured, the team will then move to any garden area. Taking measurements to the boundaries, and noting any type and height of any boundary ‘treatments’ (hedges, fences or walls). This information will be shown on a site plan. Which is required by the planning department when making an application.
First draft proposal
The next stage is to begin the process of designing. Your chosen firm should speak to you about what you are looking to do. Whether it is a loft conversion, create an open plan living area, a swimming pool or cinema room… The possibilities are almost endless! You also need to have an open discussion about budgets. This will help the architectural designer come up with something that can be constructed within budget.
Your chosen architect should have lots of experience. Being able to come up with a design that they think best suits your needs. They should not be too precious about their design. If you don’t like their initial ideas then they should – and at Acre Design we certainly do! – move the design back to what the clients had in mind. By working collaboratively, the design comes to a stage where both the client and designer agree on the finalised layout and external aesthetics of the project.
Preparing and applying for planning permission
Once the design is agreed. These plans will need to be taken to the next level of detail for the full planning application. The planning department ask for a minimum amount of detail to allow the neighbours to have their say. Also for the planning officer to make a fully informed decision. These include all elevations, floor plans, site, roof and location plan. They can also ask for an array of other plans and reports such as heritage statements, design and access statement, bat surveys, flood risk assessments etc. These will be commissioned only if the planners require them. The clearer the plans are, and the more detail that is provided and the more comfortable the planner is in making a positive decision. Which is why we use the latest 3D design software and have an approval rate of over 95%.
Full technical drawings and building control application
Once the planning has been submitted the client chooses if they wish to wait for a positive outcome. Or move straight to next stage which is to produce full technical plans. The planning drawings show what is going to be built. Yet these drawings show how it is to be built. The plans go into great detail specifying every material used on the build and how those materials interact with each other. This is shown through a number of cross sections and a constructional specification. On these drawings, all works are shown to allow for building control (another council department that requires an application) to check for compliance against the building regulations.
All lintel sizes, drainage runs, sockets, lighting locations, smoke detectors, new radiator positions plus an array of other information is laid over the planning drawings. Along with the cross sections and specification which will form the plans. Which you will be using for the next two stages of the process.
Party wall letters
Party wall agreement.– If you are working on or near a ‘party wall’, which can be any boundary line or wall that separates you from a neighbour. You must inform them, due to the party wall act that the procedure is laid. This will require an appropriate letter. With all the information. Plus a copy of the required plans to be sent to them giving notice of when you intend to carry out the work.
Finding a builder
Acre Design, and most reputable design firms, will have contractors that have done good work for them before and that they like to use to ensure the design is completed as intended on time and on budget. We will first send our plans and check if the contractor’s availability fits in with our clients expected timeframe. If so, they will request them for a quote. If our clients have builders they have used in the past, then they are more than welcome to take our plans and speak to them. We love having a big meeting with everyone involved before works start. This is to go over everything over a coffee at our office in Wallsend.
Ready to start
With all the approvals in place. A good builder lined up and our technical plans used as an instruction manual for the build. The work can commence. Contact us for more information.