How To Plan A Big Building Project
Country Homes & Interiors|November 2021
Whether you’re renovating a wreck or adding an extension, here’s what you need to put in place before you get started
Jacky Parker

This oak-framed open-plan extension required an architect

Good preparation is key to a stress-free build. Knowing what you’ll need to do and when, who to appoint, possible pitfalls and approximate costs, will help you stay on track and on budget as you watch your dream home grow.

DO I NEED PLANNING PERMISSION?

This depends on your project but large extensions generally do, and listed buildings and properties in conservation areas or areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) definitely will, so check with your local authority. Once lodged, a planning application can take up to eight weeks, or more for complex projects, so factor this into your schedule. However there is plenty that can be done under Permitted Development (works allowed without planning permission), particularly if you’re not extending the footprint of your home. Check the guidelines at planningportal.co.uk. If your project qualifies under Permitted Development, it’s worth applying for a lawful development certificate (LDC).

IS IT BEST TO USE AN ARCHITECT?

It’s not always necessary, however a design professional is trained in spatial planning and will enable you to get the best from your space. They will produce design drawings, and may be able to make planning applications on your behalf. They will also indicate how far your budget can stretch and are likely to know what your local authority may permit or reject, saving going back and forth. To save time, they could also create a design that qualifies under Permitted Development.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO FIND AN ARCHITECT?

Ask around your local area, look for builds you like and approach the owners (recommendation is always good), or check social media, then visit their websites. Have a loose brief in place – such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, an open-plan kitchen-diner or whatever you have in mind, along with architectural styles and materials you favour before approaching anyone. Aim to interview at least four architectural or design/build firms onsite to discuss design proposals, to gauge whether they can create your dream home and whether you can work well together.

WHICH OTHER PROFESSIONALS WILL I NEED?

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