Please click on each item for more detail.
The main stages below include general timescales for completion from start of each stage. These assume swift responses from clients, consultants, and local authorities. A best case scenario assuming immediate responses from those involved, a standard project would take 14-20 weeks to receive a decision on a planning application. However, we recommend clients allow a minimum of 6 months from commencement of works to receipt of a planning decision and another 3 to 6 months beyond that until commencement on construction on site.
We recommend that every client begins by considering their brief. Generally, a fully detailed brief is created through discussion at the initial client meeting, but in preparation for this it is of benefit to begin with the following information:
- Your Aims
- Your Budget
- Your preferred design style [to match something existing, to match surrounding properties, contemporary, traditional, or maybe to be sustainable or environmentally friendly]
- Your reasons for undertaking this project [intended uses, desired outcomes, etc.]
- Your final expectations [additional space, better/ different uses, more light, etc.]
You may not know what construction works you need to achieve your goals – don’t worry, we can help work this out as part of assessing your aspirations!
Initial Meeting - [30 mins - 1 hour]
We like to start every new project with an in person site meeting to discuss your initial brief, aims and desires, this then helps us to establish the project brief and what types of permissions are likely going to be required.
At this stage we can provide some initial advice on general planning policy, its potential impacts on your proposals, and the types of permissions that are likely going to be required.
This initial consultation is 30 minutes and free of charge. This helps us establish what services you need in order to provide a personalised proposal.
Alternatively, we can provide a more detailed initial design consultation meeting to discuss different design ideas, assess the current building restrictions, and establish a more focussed brief, and potentially preferred options. This service consists of a 1.5 - 2 hour site meeting, plus 1 hour preparation, at a cost of £225.00.
Quotation – [1-2 weeks]
Once the project brief has been established a formal quotation can be provided, this will usually be separated out into stages for clarity [For quotations with a number of stages we always ensure that instruction to proceed is received for each section of works, so the client is always in control of the progress of the project]. Also set out in the quotation will be initial lead times, and additional fees such as printing, postage and travel.
Site Survey – [Project Dependent]
Most applications require a set of drawings showing the existing layout and elevations of a building. These plans along with dimensions and often ground levels are required to producing the detailed drawing package. Where a set of accurate existing drawings are unavailable then a site survey will need to be undertaken, if a limited amount of information and measurement is required, we are able to undertake this in house to simplify the process. Where a more detailed survey is required, we have an approved list of external surveyors with whom we work closely.
Feasibility Study & Detailed Design Stage – [3-4 weeks]
Once a package of existing drawings is available a feasibility study is undertaken using the client’s brief, assessment of site potential and limitations, and an assessment of relevant planning policies to produce 2-3 initial designs.
Once a preferred feasibility option/ options are chosen these are incorporated into a more detailed design. We usually allow for a couple of design revisions, in order to finalise the preferred proposed design.
Pre-Application – [4+ weeks]
In most instances a pre-application can be submitted to the local authority to obtain initial comments on the proposals, this enables the design to be altered if required to avoid the need to do so whilst a full planning application is in process. This is a benefit as planning applications have a standard timescale of 8 or 12 weeks, depending on type of application, and design changes within the timescale can often be problematic leading to Extensions of Time, or in some cases withdrawal of an application. It can also highlight when local authorities will require additional surveys or reports, some of which can only be completed in certain times of year or under certain conditions which can cause severe delays.
Planning Application – [8-12 weeks (minimum)]
Once a detailed design is finalised additional supporting documentation is produced to accompany a planning application, setting out details not included in plans, incorporating required reports and supplementary information.
Revisions, Additional Surveys and Reports
Should the local authority require alterations to the design, additional surveys or reports these can be produced during a planning application (subject to time constraints). This can help remove the need for planning conditions to be applied to an approval or a potential refusal of permission.
Planning Decision/ Appeal
At the end of the planning application process a local authority will either make a decision granting permission (with or without pre-commencement/occupation conditions) or a refusal of permission. A permission may be granted subject to various conditions, often requiring clearance via a Planning Condition Clearance application, prior to commencement of building works.
A refusal will be accompanied with the reasons deemed sufficient by the local authority to refuse permission. Should these reasons be disputed there is an additional option to submit an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate who will impartially consider the application and either uphold the local authorities position of refusal or overturn the decision and grant permission.
Building Regulations – [3-4 weeks]
To ensure a project complies with the numerous building regulations it is recommended that a Building Regulations package is prepared. This package is submitted to the local authority’s Building Control department (or a private Building Control Inspector) who considers the package, and should they deem it compliant with the relevant building regulations, grant ‘plans approval’, with or without conditions.
Once construction begins onsite the local authority Building Control Inspector (or private Building Control Inspector) attends site at key stages to inspect progress, and ensure works are being completed in line with the approved plans and the regulations.
Alternatively works can be undertaken on a ‘Building Notice’, which is usually submitted with no construction details or specifications. A Building Notice places the contractor in full responsibility of obtaining compliance with the Building Regulations during construction. Once again, when construction begins onsite the local authority Building Control Inspector (or private Building Control inspector) will attend site at key stages to inspect progress, and ensure works are being competed in line with the relevant Building regulations.
Construction Package & Site Assistance
To help our clients reduce costs our Building Regulations packages are more detailed that those required by Building Control to meet the required legislation. This enables us to provide a basic construction drawing package for contractors to price and even build from. This package includes a detailed section showing insulation build ups and outline integration of the structural engineer’s design to reduce potential ‘clashes’. An experienced contractor should be able to undertake works using this package and their own experience filling in the gaps.
Often this can be further supplemented by ‘construction stage assistance’ where we provide help on an as needed basis to a contractor to clarify construction details either with additional drawings or by site meetings.
Alternatively, a comprehensive construction package can be completed with full details of build-ups, specifications, and other required information.
Construction Tender & Contract
For clients that wish for full control over project costs, tender and contract administration stages can also be completed.
A tender stage makes use of our more detailed Building Regulations package to request lump sum quotes from a number of contractors from our approved list.
Once a tender process is completed and agreed, a construction contract can be administered to provide protection to both client and contractor. This includes onsite inspections of works completed and interim payment certificates ensuring payments are only made to cover the works that have been completed. Contracts often also include a retention fee to cover a defects period following completion of a project.
The various individual aspects of a project can have a significant impact on the overall timescales. As all projects are different, some can achieve planning permission within a few months and begin construction work within a year, other more complicated projects can take years just to achieve planning permission.
We have found that the two largest causes of delays in projects are:
Local authorities failing to meet deadlines –
Whilst the statutory timeframe for decision of a planning application is within either 8 or 12 weeks, depending on the size and type of project, local authorities often request Extensions of Time adding weeks or potentially months onto an application. This is usually due to consultee responses not being received on time, the planning officer assessing the proposals late in the timeframe and requiring design alterations etc. Whilst this is frustrating, usually we recommend an EoT is agreed where the reason for the delay can help achieve a successful outcome.
Additional reports or surveys to support an application –
Particularly assessments like bat surveys which can only be completed in certain seasons. If a bat survey is requested outside of the survey season, a project could potentially be delayed for months until the report can be undertaken.