A potential new client wrote: We moved into our house a few years ago and are now looking at ways of maximizing the current structure. The original part of the house dates back to approx 1890 but it has been extended several times since. We feel there may well be a better way of utilising the current design, and may even need a small extension.
This is a problem that is pretty typical of the older house that has been altered a few, or many times before. It is exactly the type of problem we undertake to resolve. Often houses that have been altered numerous times suffer from a lack of coherence due to a poor spatial relationship or juxtaposition of the rooms. This can come about because each incremental alteration has been an attempt to satisfy a particular occupiers need but often fails to work holistically in terms of the overall house layout. Some times it is the layout that is imperfect, such as having to pass through a less pleasant space to reach a lovely lounge for instance, or perhaps the spatial balance is wrong where for example a beautiful ground floor, has been created but the full value of the house is hampered by having a small cramped upstairs.
Building Tectonics commence such a project with a what we call a Feasibility Scheme Stage.
In brief this involves me visiting the house, listening to the requirements, measuring the house and surroundings and taking the information necessary to produce workable schemes. This visit takes about 3 & 4 hours. So you can see we are pretty thorough. Following this visit and survey we produce a feasibility Scheme, or more usually, feasibility schemes, for the clients consideration, as we like to give the client as many options as possible. We normally get these schemes back to a client about 4-5 weeks after the visit. Once a client has had a chance to evaluate our schemes we like to receive the clients thoughts so we can then further explore a particular idea, altering it as necessary.
Once the client is happy with the proposals we would normally send the scheme to the Planning Department for an informal view. This is not a formal Planning Application at this point, it is an informal enquiry. On receipt of the Planning Departments comments we would try to factor in any comments they may make. It is possible that they may say that you do not require Planning Permission and it is useful to have such a letter on file for when you come to sell your house.
For a ground floor extension It would be prudent for us to carry out a so-called Asset Enquiry which means we will check whether any sewers run under your property as this may prohibit the building work you require. If we carry this enquiry out, the water authority will charge and so we have to make an additional small fee.
Once the scheme has been agreed we can then assess what further costs will be incurred in order to proceed. We can obtain an approximate build cost from a competent builder if wished. We can also obtain any structural engineering costs from a Structural Engineer, which may be required in order to move to the next stage. We are thoughtful designers and we do our best to keep our clients costs down. We often spend a little extra time producing a scheme that is more cost-effective to build. By careful analysis of the requirements a design can sometimes be produced that does not requires an Engineer. This care can also benefit the client by reducing the build cost and the disruption to the clients home – particularly important and often overlooked.
Our fee for all of the above service is usually £600.00 for local jobs but please contact us if you are interested, to see if this is still applicable.
Once this stage has concluded we can then quote you for the preparation of detailed plans for the local authority applications namely, Planning and Building Regulations. We are able to give a fixed price quotation for Planning and Building Regulation at this point because we now know what the scheme consists of. We can also advise you of other matters that you may have to be aware of such as Part Wall / 3 Metre Notices, which is sometimes needed.
If you have any queries or comments at any time, we would invite you to contact us and please remember, we have found from many years of experience, that it pays to be thorough at the outset of a project by thoroughly examining the clients requirements and seeing how the existing house can be adapted. This is why so many of our projects get built on time and on budget and with the minimum of drama on site.
Please note that Building Tectonics reserves the right to change or withdraw the above details at any time.
Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.