Wondering how the whole process of embarking upon a renovation or extension project will be?

Don't worry, we'll be guiding you through the whole process, but, should you want to have a peek before getting in touch, we have listed below the different phases you will have to go through until your project becomes a reality:

1-Initial consultation.

The first step in our process is an initial consultation. This is where we meet with you to discuss your project, understand your vision, and assess your needs. We’ll ask about your goals, preferences, and budget, and answer any questions you might have about the process. This meeting helps us gather the necessary information to start the design process and ensures that we’re on the same page moving forward.

It is also a good idea to use the opportunity for talking to your neighbours about your plans, so they have plenty of time to express their concerns. It is always a good idea to try to maintain a good relationship with your neighbours. You might not need their approval or permission to carry out any works, but they can make the process slower and more costly later!

2-Measured site survey.

After the initial consultation, we typically conduct a measured site survey. This involves visiting your property and taking detailed measurements of the existing structures and the site. We also assess the site conditions, including the topography, vegetation, and any existing buildings or features. 

This information is crucial for developing accurate and feasible design proposals. However, you also have the option to undertake this part of the project yourself, provide us with accurate existing plans, or even appoint someone else to do the survey for you. In this case, we would provide you with guidance on what measurements and information are needed. Please note that for the design to be accurate and compliant with regulations, it’s important that the survey is as precise as possible. If you’re unsure about any aspect of conducting the survey, we’re here to help.

Remember, whether the survey is conducted by us or by you, the goal is to gather accurate information about the site to inform the design process.

3-Design phase.

Once we have gathered all the necessary information we need, we'll move into the design phase. This is where we translate your vision into a tangible design. We’ll create initial sketches and then develop these into more detailed drawings, and even 3D models. Throughout this phase, we’ll work closely with you, refining the design based on your feedback until we arrive at a final design that meets your needs and expectations and that you're happy with.

4-Drawings submission / Council application process.

Once we have gone through the Design Phase, it is time to apply for planning permision, or submit drawings to the council for a certificate of lawfulness. This involves preparing and submitting the necessary documents to the local council and liase with the relevant authorities.

Ideally,  we’ll handle all the paperwork and liaise with the council on your behalf, and we will also monitor the application’s progress and address any issues that may arise, but should you want to submitt the application yourself, or to take another approach, there are other options available. Remember that, even if your projects fall under permitted development rights, you'll still need to submit drawings to your council in order to obtain a lawfulness development certificate.

Depending on the route you have decided to follow for your project, the options are:

1-Let us manage the application with or without pre-application engagement. Pre-application engagement is an optional service offered before the planning submission takes place, which allows the applicant to work collaboratiley, discuss and resolve any issues with the relevant planning authority. This normally involves a site meeting with the conservation or planning officer, and will then receive a written comunication addressing any policing or issues affected.

Even though this pre-application process involves a fee payable by the client, this is certainly our recommended approach, should you need planning permision, as it will allow us to rectify our designs rather than wait for a planning application refusal. Should you wish to read more about this process, you can take a look at the Goverment's "Before submitting an application" guidance.

2-Make use of your Permitted Developement Rights. Depending on the nature and characteristics of your project, you might not need to apply for planning permission. If the works you intend to carry out fall under Permited Development Rights, and your local authority has not withdrawn these rights, you can save some money as you do not need to apply for planning permission. Remember that, even though you do not need planning permission, you still will have to submit drawings to prove your project falls under these rights in order to acquire a certificate of lawfulness.

3-Manage your own application. Once you are happy with our drawings you can, if you wish, submit the drawings and liaise with the planning comittee yourself for either applying for planning permission, or in order to get a certificate of lawfulness .

Regardless of the path you choose, we will maintain open and regular communication with you throughout the entire processensuring that you’re kept informed and involved every step of the way. Our goal is to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible, delivering a final product that not only meets but exceeds your expectations.

5-Party wall notice / Party wall agreement.

If your project involves any building work near or on a party wall, you'll need the consent of your neighbour's or a Party Wall Agreement. You must tell your neighbours, provide them with a Party Wall Notice, and get a Party Wall Agreement in writing. If you want to know what works require of a Party Wall Agreement, below is a list of some of the works that would require it:

-Any work to shared walls (Party Walls) between semi-detached and terraced houses.

-Work involving shared ‘party structures’, such as floors between flats.

-Work to garden boundary walls.

-Excavation works – or underpinning – to, or close by (within 3-6m), the party wall.

-Loft conversions that mean cutting into a party wall.

-Inserting a damp proof course into a party wall.

-Making party walls thicker or higher.

-Building a second-storey extension above a shared wall.

-Building a new wall up to or off the party wall.

Once your project has been granted planning approval, or after you have the drawings for the project if you intend to follow the route of the "permitted development rights", it is convenient to serve your neighbours with a party wall notice.  A party wall notice must be served to your neighbours between two months and a year before you plan to start the building works.

The notice should include details describing the works which you intend to carry out in written, when are the works scheduled, your contact information, and if the works will require any access requirements over their property.  If your neighbour's property is a leasehold property, you must serve notice to the building's owner as well as to the tenant(s) living there. It is also a good idea to give your neighbours information about the agreement or point them towards The Party Wall information section on the Government's website.

Once your neighbour receives your party wall notice, they have several options:

1 - To give consent in writing.

2 - To refuse consent - This would start a "dispute resolution process".

3  - Issue a counter notice, requesting additional works to be carried out at the same time - For example repairs to the shared wall. Remember you are not supposed to pay for the totality of these works if they are benefiting from them.

Your neighbour should let you know, within 14 days of receiving the Party Wall Notice, if they consent. In the best case scenario they'll agree to all the works in writing, meaning you won't need a Party Wall Agreement, which will save you money on fees! If they want to issue a counter notice, they have one month to do so. If your neighbours do not respond within the above timescales, then you'll be on dispute.

6-Building Regulations Drawings / Appointing a Structural Engineer.

After getting planning approval, and after having served a Party Wall Notice, now it is the ideal moment to start thinking about getting Building Regulation Drawings.

What are Building Regulation Drawings? Building regulation drawings are more detailed in nature than planning drawings, and will add even more information to your project such as complete measurements, notes proving compliance with the relevant building regulations, details, etc. These drawings will serve for the purpose of proving compliance with the Building Regulations, and will also be valuable for contractors to use in their tenders, as they will contain more information related to materials than planning drawings.

Do I need to Apply for Building Regulations approval? Simply put: Yes. Unlike some common minor repairs, your project will need to demonstrate compliance with the current Building Regulations, through mediation with the relevant building control body, or by appointing a private inspector who will check any works requiring Building Regulations approval.

What about the Structural Engineer, do I need one? You will also need the services of a structural engineer, who will provide structural calculations and drawings about your project's structure which will be used by the Contractor and Architect. The Structural Engineer will also ensure your project complies with any relevant part of the Building Regulations related to the Structure. Your Architect doing Building Regulation Drawings might suggest a Structural Engineer, but you can appoint any Structural Engineer you consider.

7-Looking for a contractor to carry our the works / starting on site.

Now is the time to look for a reputable contractor. This is a crucial step in any project. The contractor will be responsible for executing the plans and ensuring that the work is completed to a good standard.

Start by asking for recommendations from friends, family, or professionals within the industry. Your Architect might know some reputable contractors within the area, neighbours who have recently embarked themselves in renovation projects are also a good source of information when looking for recommendations. Once you have a list of potential contractors, request quotes and compare them based on cost, quality of work, and reputation. Don’t forget to check their credentials and ask for references from previous clients. Make sure you send them any drawings you have about your project, and ask them to specify the materials and finishes when doing their quotes.

Remember that it is always advisable to work under a contract. If your contractor does not provide you with one, you should provide him one yourself. The contract should detail the scope of the work, the costs, the payment schedule, and any other relevant details.