Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Architectural Technician?
As a professional Architectural Technician, Ash was educated at University to learn exactly how a building ‘goes’ together on a technical level. Rather than learning to design conceptually (which he believes is a ‘natural’ skill to possess anyway), he was taught about thermal efficiency and how different elements are supported structurally. Not only this, but we are also taught to carry out the drafting & drawing work- which makes us perfect to draw up any extension/conversion plans.
Do I need an Architect?
It is tempting to think that you would require the services of an Architect to draw up plans for an extension to a house, we know this is not the case. Whilst Architects train for 7 years to be worthy of the title, from experience, it appears very little of what is taught is relevant to designing thermally efficient extensions and loft conversions, that would be compliant with strict UK Building Regulations. This sort of knowledge is more often than not learned on the job, or it is delegated to an Architectural Technician to undertake.
Are you an Architect?
No, but this is a good thing! Often (not always)! Architects are more concerned with the design of large care homes, out of town shopping centres and cinemas & they tend to defer the residential works they deem too small for them to Architectural Technicians and/or a CAD draft person. It isn’t just Architects that do this, often, a company that comes with great recommendations will outsource their work to people such as ourselves. How do we know this? Because we do lots of work for other reputable companies, and simply put their logo on it.
How many projects have you handled?
Professionally, throughout my career working for myself and other companies, I have personally measured, surveyed, drawn the existing plans of, completed the proposal design for, handled the planning process for, made amendments to planners comments & completed the building regulation drawings & applications for over 100 residential extensions and loft conversions.
Other Parties we have met seem a little older and more experienced!
Perhaps they do, but here at ASC Design Services, we have all the necessary skills and qualifications needed for the planning & building control process. We also possess our own qualities which we feel make us a great choice to guide you through the design process. It is also worth considering, as I have mentioned elsewhere, we handle commercial drawing work for other people & draw them up on behalf of their companies. So whilst you may believe (and understandably so) that you are buying into a professional company who keep their drawings and works in house, the likely hood is that they are paying someone such as ourselves to do it for them, whilst charging you a premium to do so. You will be pleased to know that we keep our projects firmly within our grasp here at ASC Design Services, and the works will be carried out by ourselves.
Do we need a structural engineer? What are the costs?
You most probably do need a structural engineer, anywhere a new opening in the property needs to be formed, or, a structural wall needs to be supported, you are likely to require formal calculations to be undertaken by a qualified structural engineer, in order to obtain formal building control ‘sign off’’. Costs of this vary between projects. But typically for a single story extension, calculations would cost from £200 upwards. ( Please note: these prices are subject to formal quotation by a structural engineer).
Do we need a Party Wall Surveyor for our project
The likelihood of you potentially requiring a ‘Party Wall Surveyor’ for your extension or loft conversion if you have an adjoined property, is a highly likely one. Your neighbour will be the one to govern whether or not they wish for one to be instructed, and if needed, you will require an impartial party (i.e. not your architectural technicians) to do this for you. We will, of course, be glad to assist with this process.
Do we need planning permission?
Depending on what you want to do, you might not require planning permission. It may be the case that the works you do undertake fall under the permitted development criteria, and as such are not subject to local authority approval. If you do not require planning permission, we would advise in all cases that a submission of the local authority for a certificate of lawful development, be made such that they can confirm that what you intend to do falls under the permitted development criteria, which means that there will be no nasty surprises along the way. A lawful development submission will cost approximately £85 (this will be charged by the local authority – in addition to our fees).
What is permitted development?
Permitted development is a set of criterion set out in law, that can be carried out to your property without any local authority declining your submission. Please refer to permitted development document enclosed.
How much does the local authority charge for a planning or permitted development application?
A householder planning permission application costs £172.00 in addition to our fees. Whereas a permitted development application costs £85.00 in addition to our fees. (Costs are correct as of January 2015 – we shall advise if costs differ).
How long does it take to draw plans?
After we are commissioned, a date will be set to undertake a measured survey of the existing dwelling, and then a concept stage document shall be issued to you within 3 weeks from the date of the survey.
What are the stages of designing plans?
The initial stage shall be a measured survey of your property to determine the extents of the existing dwelling, such that accurate floor plans and elevations can be drawn up to reflect. The next step is the concept stage document, which is where your design requirements and wishes come into play. You have given us the idea of what you would like, and it is then our job to draw this up and create your ideal scenario in the form of a proposed floor plan. We then require your comments such that we can then go on to create all the drawings required for a formal submission.
How long does the planning approval/permitted development process take?
Typically the local authority require up to 8 weeks though this can take a little longer if we need to work alongside them in order to achieve an approved scheme.
What is a building control application and do we need it?
Building control are a group of experienced construction professionals who are tasked with checking building control submission plans and elevations, to confirm whether the intended design conforms with UK building regulations. A building control application is required in some form after either planning permission has been granted, or a certificate of lawful development has been obtained. This can simply be a quick administration process carried out by your builder (this can cost a lot extra), or can be in the form of detailed construction plans that demonstrate how the proposed development shall conform to UK building regulations, such that an approved scheme can be obtained and you have detailed plans for your builder to quote against. This set of plans, sections and elevations shall be drawn by ourselves at a fee in addition to the fees set out at the planning stage (please refer to the associated costs document).
What is the approximate building cost per square metre?
For single story extension without a kitchen or bathroom, expect to pay in the region of £1400 to £2000 per square metre. For a two story extension building costs can be slightly reduced per square metre of added floor space, so expect to pay between £1200 – £2000 per square metre. (All building costs shall be as specified by the building company you have requested quotations from. Prices we have mentioned are to be treated indicatively and as such in using any figures quoted by us in your considerations, you understand that we accept no liability for building costs quoted by builders, being in excess of the guideline figures we have offered).
Can we have any external finish we like?
Under the permitted development criteria, one requirement is that any materials used as an external finish shall match the existing house. In the event you would like, for example, to have a white render extension to the rear elevation of a brick walled house, this will automatically mean that you cannot make a submission under permitted development and as such, shall have to make a planning permission submission to the local authority so that they can grant permission for the new external finish.
Can we have a balcony?
The short answer regretfully is unless you are proposing a Juliette balcony, no. Local authorities are required for planning permission for balconies, however, typically they take a position against allowing balconies because of overlooking issues – though an application can be made.
Can we have a dormer window on the front of our house?
A dormer on the front of your house cannot be obtained through permitted development. You can apply through your local authority for planning permission to have one built, however, unless your road/street already have houses with this addition (probably installed back when planning was not so strict), the likelihood is that it will be more difficult to obtain. You can, however, have one to the rear of your property under permitted development.
How much glass can we have?
The short answer is, glass is less thermally efficient than an external cavity wall as such, shall lose heat at a greater rate than walls. If you wish to have glass in excess of that which is to be expected in an extension (IE Doors, french doors, bi-folding doors, windows and roof lights) you may have to undertake a process called ‘SAP calculation’ to identify the additional heat loss through having the excess glass, and incur the costs of upgrading existing elements around the house to make it more thermally efficient, such that the heat lost through the extra glass is offset.
How long does an extension/ loft conversion take to build?
This is typically something we cannot answer – it is best to speak with the building company you are using to understand how busy they are and their best estimate of timings.
Are you a builder?
No, we are not. We specialise in creating and drawing plans for planning and building control.