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Q - Where do I start or who do I ask?

This is probably one of the most commonly asked questions when someone is thinking of carrying out development or alterations. BPS always suggest talking to a building professional to determine whether the works are feasible and what is required to obtain consent to carry out the required works.

Q - What is it going to cost?

Many people have a budget in mind of what they want to spend when carrying out improvements to their home. However, their budget very often doesn't include things like professional fees and VAT. A budget of £50,000 is better defined as £40,000 + VAT and fees.

BPS clearly identifies fees for its services and will indicate other costs like statutory application fees and other professional services to enable you to budget more accurately. Budget building costs can also be identified.

Q - What permissions do I need?

The majority of building projects will require either planning permission or building regulation approval. Some projects will require either both or neither.

Current planning legislation may mean that a simple conservatory on the back of a house may not require planning or building regulation approval. Whereas, the removal of a wall between two rooms may only require building regulation approval. A two storey side extension is likely to require both planning and building regulation approval.

BPS can generally advise on this at the initial visit to the property.

Q - What is the difference between planning permission and building regulation approval?

Quite simply planning permission is the permission required to actually build what you want to build. It takes into consideration the size and the use of the building as well as the impact it will have on neighbours and the surrounding area.

Building regulation approval is how the development is constructed. It ensures that appropriate types of construction are used and that the works are carried out to a minimum standard.

BPS prepare drawings for both planning and building regulation approvals and will act as a clients agent to deal with any issues that arise during the process.

Q - What is permitted development (PD)?

The Department for Communities and Local Government define Permitted development as;

"the amount of extensions, improvements and alterations a householder may make to their house and the area around it without the need for an application for planning permission."

 Generally, so long as the PD rights have not been removed from the property and certain criterion is met, you are able to carry out small development to your home without the need for planning permission.

 BPS always recommend obtaining a Certificate of Lawfulness for these sorts of developments. Click here for further information.

Q - What is the difference between building regulation drawings and working drawings?

Unfortunately these are often referred to as the same thing but there is one important difference.

Building regulation drawings give details of how an extension is constructed and they define how the structure will meet the requirements of the Approved Documents A to P. These are the minimum standards that local authorities use to establish whether construction is being carried out legally. Whilst building regulation drawings may detail how each element complies with these documents, they will not always be sufficiently detailed to enable someone to build from them.

Working drawings generally go into far more detail giving a clearer understanding to the contractor of what is to be built.

BPS produces both types of drawing and examples can be seen in the Building Surveying / Project Co-Ordination section of this website.

Q - When should I use a Contract Administrator?

Even a basic extension of one room on a house can be a significant cost in the low tens of thousands of pounds. It is therefore important to see that your hard earned money is being well spent and that the work is being carried out in a professional manner.

BPS believe that a good contract administrator should be on hand to see that the works are being constructed in a timely and diligent manner as well as payment being made at the appropriate time. If a project is worthy of a contract then it is worthy of someone to administer that contract.

Q - Do I need to serve a party wall notice on my neighbour?

Under the Party Wall etc. Act 1996, if you are excavating within three meters of a neighbouring structure and lower than their foundations OR if you wish to cut into a party wall to bear a beam, you must inform the adjoining owners by serving a notice and include drawings of what you wish to do.

BPS can assist with details in respect of the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Click here for further information.

Q - Where do I find a reputable builder/contractor?

There are many organisations claiming to offer reputable contractors but how can you be certain that the work they carry out for you is appropriate and to a good standard?

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) gives excellent advice on choosing and finding a builder/contractor in their advice section.

BPS are not tied to any individual contractor but do work with several that are considered reputable. BPS will try to identify a contractor that is suitable for your particular project and always tender works to contractors of similar size.


Victoria & Dylan Grimes - Residential Extension in Barnes: "It was a pleasure working with Barrie who designed an innovative solution to our planning challenges helping us to maximise our potential space, this was complicated due to local planning..." more