Please find below a collection of common questions that we are asked from time to time. If you have a question that is not listed below, please feel free to contact us.
A new build home or even an extension is likely to be one of the biggest financial investments you will make. Now ask yourself, would you buy a new car without carefully researching and selecting the make? You’d no doubt read Which? reviews, meet with dealers, and consider all that’s on offer. You certainly wouldn’t buy without seeing a brochure and a detailed specification.
You would read the fine print, ensure that the dealer was reputable and would not part with hard earned money until you were confident in the product and service. Why is it any different when it comes to choosing a builder?
There are rogue traders out there. How can you protect your investment. Here are a few tips.
- Get a professional company to produce detailed building plans and a schedule of works.
- Choose builders based upon recommendation. See their work, speak to the people they did work for.
- Get a fully detailed price. If they won’t do this, don’t engage.
- Agree a program and get it put in writing.
- Agree stage payments and get this in writing.
- Do not pay upfront, no reputable builder would ask you to do this.
- Request that a contract is entered into – contact us for advice.
The last item recommends the use of a form of building contract. There are several types, but they all basically do the same, that its, formalize an agreement that is legally binding. It will highlight remedies if a dispute arises. It will highlight responsibilities of both parties.
We can hold your hand through this process. We can do all or as little as you wish. Its your money your choice, but buyer beware!
The Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 were amended to include work undertaken on domestic properties. The regulations are all about making sure that work on site is carried out safely and properly managed.
The regulations state that you the Domestic Client should appoint a Principle Designer and Principle Contractor when there is more than one contractor involved, but if you do not do this your duties fall automatically to the Contractor.
Now, if you are a home owner contemplating having work done , don’t worry, the onus is not on you. You are treated as a lay person, not expected to know anything.
For the builder, it is different. If a builder is engaged to carry out work on your dwelling, he will be expected to have a working knowledge and understanding of the CDM 2015 regulations and plan work accordingly. This means that in the case of building an extension, he will need to take on the role of Principle Designer. That’s a strange name and a bit misleading especially if you have already had a designer involved in preparation of design drawings. The 2 roles are not the same. The Contractor will be expected to properly coordinate all trades, ensuring that risk assessments and method statements are in place prior to work commencing. Now that may sound all a bit over the top, but I assure you its not. Its how a competent builder should be operating anyway! Let me give you an example, a builder has to demolish part of a structure to make way for the new. A competent builder will be aware of the need for an asbestos survey to determine the presence of any hazardous materials. This he should have advised you of prior to commencement. He will also know that he needs to coordinate the works of other trades to ensure risks are eliminated, reduced or managed. Take for instance the work of an electrical contractor. The main contractor would ask the electrician questions about how the power will be isolated, for how long, and what steps would be taken to ensure against accidental activation by an unsuspecting other person. This needn’t require paperwork, but will require discussion planning and agreement. Health & Safety is not intended to be a paper exercise or a burden. Its the way competent builders will carry out their business.
Now, if you are planning to split the work up and bring in sub-contractors as and when you need them beware. When more than one trade is on site at anyone time, one contractor must take responsibility as the Principle Designer and coordinate the work of the other trades. Of course this can lead to problems, disagreements etc. The best course of action, engage a competent contractor to carry out the work. He will oversee the work of the other trades. Make it clear from the outset that his duties are to include that of managing the Health & Safety on site.
Ignorance is no defense in law so if you take it upon yourself to oversee the works and manage subcontract activities when clearly its not within your area of expertise, and someone is injured, it will likely be viewed harshly by the courts. You are also at risk of your householder buildings and public liability policies being null and void. They wont cover you for acting in ignorance!
That really depends on where your property is, the size of the proposed alteration or addition, location (front/rear/side), height (single storey/2 storey) . Here is a quick checklist. If the answer to any one of these questions is yes then you may need planning permission:
- Has the property already been extended?
- Will the extension be visible to the public?
- Are you in a conservation area?
- Will the alteration extend beyond or increase the height of the ridge?
- Will it extend beyond the permitted development rights as defined by the local planning authority, depending on the type of dwelling – mid terrace, semi-detached, or detached – this may be limited to 4m or 6m from the rear wall of the dwelling?
- Is it within close proximity of the neighbours boundary?
- If its a loft conversion – will it require a dormer that will be visible from the street?
If the answer to any one of those questions is yes, then you MAY need planning permission.
If the answer to the next few questions is yes then, depending on the circumstances, you most likely WILL need Planning and Listed Building consent:
- Is the property in a conservation area?
- Is the property listed? Grade 1, 2 or 2*?
- Is the property registered as an ancient monument (If so do not touch without seeking further advise)?
- Is the property tithed – i.e, is it restricted to agricultural workers dwelling?
- Are there any development restrictions written into the title deeds?
If you are not sure please contact us for initial free advise. Do not proceed with any works without first checking with the local planning authority.
If you have found this helpful please let us know.