If you have looked through the Planning Permission, How to Apply and Building Regulations sections you will see that there is a lot of work involved in providing the required documents to the council at the right stages of the Permission application. And this is even before any building has started.
This is why many people considering having an extension built to their house will approach a suitably qualified professional. These professionals, known as the consultant or agent, often take the form of:
The Role of the Architect, Architectural Technologist or Chartered Building Surveyor (“the consultant”)
The role of the above consultants is firstly to provide advice on what the best options are with regards meeting your requirements within the constraints of the
position of your property. He will be able to give advice on what options are more likely to pass planning permission, especially if neighbours houses are close to your own property.
Next the consultant will produce the necessary plans for submission to the local council’s planning department. They will ensure the plans contain the required information and will deal with producing the relevant number of copies of these plans and also the Ordnance Survey site maps required with every planning application. These consultants often know what types of extension will obtain planning permission with a particular local council and which are likely to be rejected. They are submitting applications all the time and know which ones pass directly and which ones need amendments before being allowed permission.
Once the plans have been submitted, the consultant will deal with all the necessary correspondence with the regulatory bodies. The consultant will prepare the detailed drawings for the Building Regulations submission. Again, they will know exactly the amount of detail required on these drawings for the particular application.
The consultant will be able to deal with any extra permissions required, such as Conservation Area consent or Listed Building consent.
After all the required permissions have been obtained many consultants will prepare the relevant documentation ready for sending to a list of builders to obtain quotes to show the cost of the building project. You should be sent a copy of these documents to allow you to send out for quotes for your chosen builder; alternatively the consultant could send out the plans to the builders and obtain the quotations for the client.
Quotations received from builders whom the consultant or you have contacted directly can be examined by the consultant, if you so instruct and he could then advise you on which quotation he believes to be the best.
Obviously it is up to you in the end to choose a builder, though advice is often useful at this stage. Please remember it is normal practice for you to appoint the builder, this means that the contract is directly with you. The consultant can advise on the most appropriate form of contract, and what provisions need to be inserted (such as dates for commencement and completion, insurance etc). Insist on seeing all the necessary paperwork, for example what happens if the builder goes over time and budget, is this catered for within the contract. Your consultant should be able to advise you on the standard practice.
Oversee the Project
Some consultants may offer to “supervise” the whole building project if required, though there is obviously an extra cost involved with this service. This type of service may be useful if you are not around for most of the day, or if you want any hassle taken away. Though you will still have to make decisions as the project progresses – there are nearly always unforeseen circumstances that arise, though most are easily dealt with.
Please note “supervising the project” and “administering the project” are very different. Supervising the project is much more onerous; please ensure that the consultant’s professional indemnity insurance cover provides cover for this. “Administering the project” is the normal procedure and is where the consultant visits the project at certain times to ensure that the various stages have been complied with. A certificate will be issued if appropriate. However, it is important that your consultant explains both options fully. It is then up to you and your consultant to negotiate how much you want him to be involved, if at all.
If you like to be in control of everything from drawing the initial plans to overseeing the final project then you may choose not to use the services of a professional. However, most people do not have the know-how or skill to produce the necessary drawings to submit to the council for planning permission or the in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of building regulations for a building control application.
It is therefore, the general view that most people would be advised to use the services of a professional to carry out the planning application and building regulations application, though if they are confident with their builder, using their services for overseeing a project may not be necessary.
Architect, Architectural Technologist or Chartered Building Surveyor or Chartered Town Planner
Whether you choose to use an Architect, Architectural technologist, or Chartered Building Surveyor or Chartered Town planner is up to you. They will all, hopefully, provide the service you require. Ensure that you negotiate the price at the outset and ensure that you have agreed and accepted the consultants’ terms of engagement this should preferably be in writing.
Find an Architect, Architectural Technologist or Chartered Building Surveyor.
The best way of choosing your consultant is to go by personal recommendation. However, if this is not possible, look in your local yellow pages or check House Extension Online’s Supplier Directory.
Alternatively you could visit the professional bodies for the consultants. The professional body for architects is the Royal Institute of British Architects www.architecture.com, there is also the registration body the Architects Registration Board (ARB) which all architects must be registered with (membership of RIBA is optional) ARB’s website is www.arb.org.uk.
The professional institute for architectural technologists is the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists, www.ciat.org.uk. Both these sites have a “finder” service, and the professional institute of Chartered Building Surveyors is RICS, www.rics.org. The professional Institute of Chartered Town Planners is The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) which can be found on www.rtpi.org.uk.
Always remember to get more than one quote for any service you are looking for – you may be surprised by the difference in price, but remember have confidence who ever you appoint.