Good Questions & Straight-talking Answers To Get You Started.

If you can't find the answer to your question please email or call me. If your question is relevant and not included in the list below I will certainly add it.

1. Can I start with the work right away if I don't need planning?
For peace of mind I recommend that you get a Certficate of Lawfulness for any work such as extensions or conversions that do not need planning permission. In order to get a certificate of lawfulness you will need a set of existing and proposed drawings etc which must be submitted to the council with a fee of £75. The council checks the drawings of what you intend to build and if they agree that you do not need planning permission they will issue you a certificate of lawfulness. This year alone I have had to submit several retrospective planning applications for clients that built without getting planning permission or a certificate of lawfulness. Building without planning permisison or lawful development is like refusing to pay £2.50 per hour for parking only to be landed with a £40 parking ticket.

2. How long does the process of getting planning permission take?
If its a straightforward planning application it takes a minimum of 8- 10 weeks from submission to decision by the council. The design and production of drawings for planning permission can take as little as 1 week to 7 weeks it depends on the size of the project, timing and how quickly clients can make up their minds and get back to me with comments on the design options.

3. Have I used up my lawful development rights?
Its difficult to tell without seeing your project. Lawful developments rights are in most cases based on size its best to check with the duty planning officer from your local planning department.

4. Why is there a huge difference in fees for different architects?
On small projects architects usually charge on an hourly basis. The hourly rate is based on the going rate, overheads and experience. The title "architect" is protected in the UK and it takes a minimum of 7 years to be an architect in the UK. You can tell which practice is an architectual practice by the name. Non-architects omit of the word architect from their company name. Names such "architectural designers" "planning service" etc tend to be used by non-architectural practices, for best results, its best to ask.
Architects design buildings, provide building design solutions etc drawings are done as a means to communicate ideas. PLEASE NOTE: THAT THE ABILITY TO PREPARE BUILDING DRAWINGS DOES NOT MAKE YOU AN ARCHITECT. Architects in the UK have had a minimum of 7 years training and they carry professional indemnity insurance.

5. Do I need building control for my projects?
 Building Control deals with the following listed below. if your project involves any of the areas listed then yes you need building control. The long and short of it is that most projects need buidling control.
Part A - Structure Part B - Fire safety Part C - Site preparation and resistance to moisture Part D - Toxic substances Part E - Resistance to the passage of sound Part F - Ventilation Part G - Sanitation, hot water safety and water efficiency Part H - Drainage and waste disposal Part J - Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems Part K - Protection from falling, collision and impact Part L - Conservation of fuel and power Part M - Access to and use of buildings Part N - Glazing - safety in relation to impact, opening and cleaning Part P - Electrical safety

6. Do I need to get planning permission for my project?
If you live in a house you have lawful development rights, if you live in a flat you do not have lawful development rights. Having lawful development rights means that there are certain developments that you can carry out without getting planning permission, such as loft coversions of a recommended size, ground floor extensions of a recommended depth and height etc please check with your planning departments for more information.

7. Can you guarantee that I will get planning permission?
No architect can guarantee that you will get planning permission, to be honest it defeats the need for planning process in the first place. Most experienced architects have a very good idea of what will be approved. Last year we had a 95% planning success rate on our home owner planning applications. We are very confident in our abilities that we offer you a free re-submission guaranteee if you are not successful.

8. I used another architect* for my planning permission can you do my building control?
I find that proper architectural practices can do the building control drawings for projects that they have gotten planning permission. If they can't or won't, then they are either not architects or not being paid enough for the work required. I can help you get building control if the planning permission has been done by others, but the work has to be of a substantial size and with interesting design input otherwise its not worth doing.
*95% of the time when I talk to prospective clients that say they have used architects they actually haven't but they just don't know it.

9. Can you recommend a structural engineer?
I certainly can. With structural engineers I recommend that you go for one that is creative and economical in design rather than cheap. From my experience cheaper structural engineers could cost you more money during the building stage.

10. Can I get planning permission even if I don't have the money to build?
Yes. Getting planning permission increases the value of your property. One of my most successful planning applications allowed my client to make a substantial profit without doing the building work. My client bought a 4 storey single residential house with a corner plot, I was sucessful in designing and getting him planning permission for a 4 storey side extension and conversion into 4 flats. He went on to sell the property for a 200k profit.
Planning permission is valid for 3 years and can be renewed if you are not ready to build. It allows you to plan financially and to beat any changes to the planning laws.

11 Can you recommend reliable builders?
Yes I can but I only recommend my builders to clients that have used my services and that I can guarantee are responsible and will treat the builders properly.

12. Roughly how much will it cost to build?
Without working drawings and building control drawings it is difficult to tell. You can get estimates from planning drawings but it will most definitely increase when the working drawings showing the details of the building are done.

13 Can I get real quotes with planning drawings
Alot of people do but I don't recommend it because it because planning drawings do not have the details which are mandatory for the work to pass building control and to meet your specific needs, its better to get quotes after the building control drawings and working drawings have been done.

14. Can you guarantee that your fees will not go up?
I usually fix my fees for a specific list of work which is stated in my letter of appointment.  My fees will not change if my work schedule stated in my letter of appointment does not change.