In this article we look at important points prior to starting a project. These points, given proper consideration, will save you time and money as your project develops.
Whether you are considering a New Build, Extension work, Loft conversion, porch, replacement windows, new kitchen, new bathrooms or complete refurbishment, some or all the points below will require complying with.
1. Community Infrastructure levy (C.I.L). is usually applied to new build housing and is a sum of money to be applied/added to the cost of the project for services such as road improvements etc. In general, it is a levy paid to the local Planning department to provide or improve the local infrastructure and to pay for the maintenance and operation of this infrastructure.
Action: Check with your Local Authority Planning department to confirm if it applies to your project and, if it does, what is the charge. Self-build projects may be exempt: once again check with your L.A.P.D. It is not usual for this levy to apply to residential extensions or renovations but, as usual check, with your L.A.P.D.
2. Planning Approvals: Look at the planning implications. Does your project need planning permission or does it fall under permitted development rights?
Action: You can check this online on your Local Authority’s web site or speak with your Local Authority Planning Department. If planning approval is required, you will need to prepare drawings and to complete the relevant forms to be forwarded to the Planning Department with the correct fee. This process may take six to eight weeks before a decision is made. If your project falls within permitted development, it is still wise to prepare limited drawings, complete a form and pay a reduced fee to apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness.
3. Building Regulation Compliance: some projects will require Building Regulation Approval whilst others such as garages or porches [up to certain sizes and if within permitted development] will require only Building Regulation approval. This application will require further and more detailed drawings and may require Engineer’s calculations for any steel beams and supports.
Action: Prepare drawings, complete forms and, along with any additional Engineer’s calculations, forward these to your Local Authority Building Control department. Do not forget to enclose the correct fee. There are two fees, one at submission stage and one required after the Building Control inspector’s first visit. Your L.A.B.C department will advise you of such fees. Providing your drawings comply you will get an approval notice with your approval number. This is important because when arranging a Building Control visit this reference number will be required. Notice should also be given to your L.A.B.C. department in writing at least three days before commencement. There are private Building Control inspectors but choose one carefully if deciding not to use your Local Authority Building Control department.
4. Party Wall Act 1996: Consider if you require a party wall award. Again, your Local Authority can assist. If you are a connected property (semi detached or terraced) and you will be working on the party wall you will require an award. If you are extending any property and the boundaries are within three or six meters, you will also require a Party wall award.
Action: This award can be prepared and issued by the same surveyor (if both parties agree) or two surveyors who would prepare the party wall award separately and agree it jointly. A third surveyor may need to be appointed if the two individual surveyors fail to agree on any points. This is quite a detailed and time-consuming process, so choose your surveyors carefully. The cost will fall on those carrying out the building work. An award in place will stop all disputes at the end of the project, particularly if your neighbours maintain that your builder has caused damage to their property.
5. Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM Regs 2015): These regulations now apply to domestic property work as well as commercial building work. If the project is going to last more than thirty days and have more than twenty workers on site at any point during the project or if the project is going to last more than five hundred person days, you will be required to complete the HSE notification prior to commencement and to comply with it fully for the duration of the project. You will need to keep risk assessments and records of all materials used to place into a project folder that can be handed over to the owners of the building on completion. Your Architect or appointed Surveyor should be able to help you with these requirements. Remember, as the client, you are responsible for compliance.
6. Time: Whilst the above points may seem complicated and confusing, if you give yourself enough time to work through these points carefully before commencing a project, using further help as indicated, they should become clear and save you unnecessary worries and concerns and possibly money in the future.
7. Remember, it is you as the homeowner who is responsible in ensuring that all these points are in place. Members of the Guild of Master Craftsmen should be experienced and able to give clear reminders to ensure these examples are all in place prior to commencement of any building projects.
8. Before inviting the Builder round to discuss a quotation make sure that drawings have been prepared to show your requirements. Make notes of your precise requirements i.e. style and quality of doors, skirtings, architraves, ironmongery, sanitary ware and kitchen units. Remember, any changes after work starts may be subject to a variation and additional costs.
You will need to consider where to set aside a dedicated space for storage of materials and other facilities such as water, power, toilet and parking for the appointed builder.
In general, any member from the Guild of Master Craftsmen should be able to talk you through these points.
Lastly, if in doubt, contact your Local Authority for advice and confirmation.