FAQ: Important questions to ask an architect

You should be diligent when choosing an architecture firm for your project. One way to determine whether a potential architect is suitable for the job is by asking the right questions. Here are some questions to ask an architect when planning a construction project.

interior design

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is the formal permission from the local authority for the alteration or erection of new habitable space. Planning approval can be granted after certain conditions are met post-planning and before work starts. The documents you need for planning permission include detailed site plans and design statements. Availing the relevant documents to your local planning authority for evaluation makes the process easier. The different forms of planning permission range from Permitted Development Rights and Prior Approval to Full Applications. Contact our team for help and advice concerning your building project.

How much does it cost to get planning permission?

The local authority fee for a Householder planning application is £206. Depending on the complexity of your project, you’ll also need to allow for additional fees for an architect and other consultants/ surveyors. This will impact the overall project cost.

How long does planning permission take?

The duration for obtaining planning permission is between 8 to 12 weeks. This timeframe can vary depending on the scope of the project. The planning approval takes longer if you require any additional consultations and assessments. Many planning approval objections can make it take longer especially with failure to meet all the requirements. Having the right architect ensures that they follow up with the local authority.

brick rear house extension, inside house

How does planning permissions work?

Planning permission is a legal authorization to continue construction work. It indicates that your local planning authority (LPA) has given you the legal right to proceed with certain property developments. Planning permission ensures construction work or alterations align with local building standards and don’t harm the environment.

Is it possible to make amendments after receiving planning permission?

The approved proposals might need modification if changes arise after planning permission has been granted. A new planning application should be submitted if there are significant project changes. You should be aware of the conditions and limitations for reapplying planning permission. Where fewer substantial changes are proposed, the following option is available for amending the proposal:

Non-material Amendment. For example, changing the size of a window or the material used for the roof.

living area with an open layout

Can I extend or renovate my listed house?

It is possible to make changes and add extensions to all types of listed buildings, but the options are limited. On top of applying for planning permission, you will be required to apply for listed building consent from your local authority.

Making changes to a listed building without permission is a criminal offence.

Is planning permission for internal alterations needed?

Most of the time, planning permission isn’t for internal alterations in the UK because they generally don’t affect the building’s external appearance. However, approval might be necessary if the property is listed or in a conservation zone. This could be a requirement before making any internal or exterior alteration. It’s a good idea to consult with your local planning authority before making any modifications to ensure compliance with applicable building regulations.

Can I apply planning permission before buying a house

Yes, you can apply planning permission before buying a house. Planning permission doesn’t apply only for property you already own. You can still apply for approval if you have not yet closed the deal on a house you want to buy and plan on making some modifications.  Acquiring planning approval can take several weeks so it’s advantageous to kickstart the process earlier. Always consult with your local council first to determine whether planning permission is necessary.

loft reading room with large windows

How does permitted development work?

If the project falls under permitted development rights, you can make certain changes to their property without requiring full planning permission. Permitted development simplifies the process of making non-controversial improvements to the interior. However, certain conditions must be met to ensure the construction complies with local building standards. Always check with your local planning authority to determine whether your building project falls under permitted development. A qualified architectural firm can follow up with the local authorities and ensure they obtain planning permission where necessary.

How to get planning permission on land?

Obtaining planning permission for land involves a thorough application process where you demonstrate that your proposed project meets the local planning policies. This process involves submitting detailed documents, including site plans, blueprints, and possibly an environmental impact assessment. Your local planning department should guide you on the specific requirements and procedures. Public consultations might also be part of the process, allowing neighbours and other stakeholders to provide input on your proposal. Your neighbours can oppose planning application but a good architect should guide you accordingly. It’s advisable to seek expert advice to navigate the complexities and increase the likelihood of approval for your development plans.

bathroom with roof light

What will happen if you build without planning permission?

You can face significant legal and financial consequences if you build without planning permission. The local planning authority may issue an enforcement notice if they discover unauthorized work. This could require you to modify the changes per the planning regulations or revert the property to its previous state. Ignoring this notice can result in fines and severe penalties. You can have a successful project and avoid any potential consequences and costly mistakes by hiring the right residential architect and building contractor. They will help you navigate building regulations and planning permission requirements for your new project.

What is building regulations approval?

Building regulations approval ensures that construction projects meet specific safety and performance standards in the UK. It focuses on important issues like structural integrity, fire protection, energy efficiency, and accessibility of the development project. Whether it’s a new build or renovation project, detailed assessments and inspections ensure everything meets set regulations. Understanding these requirements is crucial for any construction project, and further insights into building regulations approval can guide you through compliance.

What is a site surveyor?

A site surveyor assesses property to gather essential information for construction and development projects. They measure and document the site’s dimensions, boundaries, topography, and existing structures, which are crucial for accurate planning and legal compliance. The surveyor ensures the proposed project adheres to local planning laws and optimizes the use of space.

What is conceptual design?

Conceptual design involves the architect creating a vision or concept design for a building or space in the initial architectural design phase. In this phase, the architect explores ideas, defining the project’s scope, and establishing the overall design direction. The outcome is represented through sketches, 3D models, and preliminary layouts. This helps align the project’s objectives with aesthetic and practical considerations.

living room with roof lights

What drawings do I need for planning permission?

You should provide specific drawings that represent your proposed development in detail. These typically include site plans, floor plans, elevations, and sometimes sections, which must detail the project’s layout, scale, and context relative to its surroundings. These drawings are essential for the local planning authority to assess the impact of your proposal on the environment and community.

How long does it take an architect to draw plans?

The time it takes for an architect to draw plans can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the project and the specific requirements involved. Generally, simpler designs may take a few weeks, while more complex and detailed architectural plans could require several months. Architects should consider various factors including local regulations, client requirements and potential construction challenges.

How much does an architect cost?

Architect fees vary depending on a few factors such as the scope, project complexity and level of service you want. The fees can be made as lump sums payable at different project stages or percentages and hourly rates. Budgeting it with your construction cost when building your dream home is important.

For a rear extension and house refurbishment in central London with a construction budget of £300,000, an architect’s fee for design and contract administration would be around 10% equating to £30,000. The work up to planning submission would be £5,000.

minimalistic living room design

Can I do structural computations on my own?

You need a proper understanding of the relevant building codes and engineering principles for structural calculations. The calculations are crucial for ensuring the safety and stability of a structure and often need approval from local building authorities. It is advisable to engage a professional engineer because structural engineering can be complex. You can review more on handling structural calculations to understand the process better.


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