Just because you’ve got your planning application in, it doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. Now is the time to get organised so works can start as soon as your application is approved. Kantec Director Suk Grewal offers advice on how best to use this time and prepare for your project.
While your planning application is being assessed by the local authority, there are a number of key tasks you can set your mind to. Bear in mind, some of these jobs can take as long as the planning process, so there’s no time like the present to start getting them sorted.
The three key things you need to focus on are:
1. Finding a builder
2. Closing the outstanding administration stages
3. Choosing the fun stuff
Finding a builder
After buying your home, this building project could be the biggest financial invest you make, so choosing the right build team to complete the project is crucial. A successful build process is not just one where the build quality is good, as this is expected, but one where the journey is clearly defined, transparent and as stress-free as possible.
Your basic planning drawings are enough information for builders to give you their top-line price and an idea of the basic budget. I suggest getting three to five builders to provide you with an initial quote. To establish which builders to approach you can:
Talk to friends and neighbours – The majority of our clients come from word-of-mouth recommendations. Speak to others who’ve had similar work done in your area and ask about their experiences.
Companies House check – This will provide you with a clear understanding about the company’s structure and financial situation, and who the owners are.
Meet the companies’ references – With larger building companies it is worthwhile meeting their references. You can ask past clients about how the company supported them and the build team during the project.
Once you’ve chosen a set of builders to tender, you can issue them with your drawings and ask them to provide a general quote to a plastered finish – this will make them easier to compare. You can then review their responses and quotes, and any information you have garnered from your research, and choose the builder to progress to the next stage.
Once you have completed the tender and chosen a builder, ask them to show you some references for the team who will be working on your house and to meet with the project manager, site manager, and a previous client who they worked for. This way you’ll have a clear understanding of who the team will be and be confident in their abilities.
The builder will need detailed drawings from the architect to assess the structural costs, which are not shown in the planning drawings, and to see if the technical specification reflects the actual costs included within the tender price. This will be the last check before you need to make a decision.
Closing the outstanding administration stage
Even though your planning application is in there are other administrative processes you may need to complete before you can start your build, depending on the type of house you live in and your project.
Building control application –Your planning application seeks approval for the design, but you also need approval for the way a new project will be built from the building control department of your local authority. They will need to see the technical drawings, which include the structural calculations.
If your architect thinks it’s likely your planning application will be approved, it might be worth getting the technical drawings completed so you can use the eight-week wait for planning approval to have them approved too. This will also enable your builder to finalise costs for areas such as structural work, giving you a better idea of your budget.
Party wall agreement – With the technical drawings in hand you are also able to start the party wall agreements. You’ll need these if you have adjoining neighbours or are planning to dig foundations within three metres of a neighbour’s property. This can take eight weeks to complete, so should be started as soon as the planning application is made. Click here to find out more about the party wall process.
Thames Water build over agreement – For those creating a new extension on the ground floor you’ll need to determine if your drains are private, i.e. only your property uses them, or public, meaning they’re used by your neighbours. If they’re public and the new foundations will be dug within three metres of the drains, you will need to apply to Thames Water for their approval. For this you will need drawings showing the location and flow of the drains and how they will be protected to ensure there won’t be a collapse. The process can take up to four weeks and must be done prior to commencing your project.
SAP calculations – If your new project is made up of more than 25% glass, you may need a SAP (heat loss calculation) to ensure that you have insulated the new area sufficiently to offset the heat loss from the glass. The building control team will require this calculation to check that the heat loss has been considered and the technical drawings reflect the calculations. This process can take two to three weeks to complete and should be completed before starting the job.
As part of our project management service, we can manage all these aspects on your behalf. To see how we can help, please talk to the office team at Kantec.
Choosing the fun stuff
Choosing your new kitchen, bathroom, flooring, tiles and glazing is a really fun part of the process, but it can take time to find what you want and even longer to have items delivered. It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want prior to the build start date so your build team can factor the lead times of all these items into the project plan.
Get a feel for the look you want to achieve by using inspirational websites like houzz.co.uk and put together a supplier list from your research. At Kantec, we advise our clients on which products are most suitable and which suppliers meet their budgets. Your builders should have a list of their previous suppliers too that they can share with you and arrange quotes with any that you like. This will give you the opportunity to take advantage of their trade accounts to get a better deal.
Proper planning means your project can get up and running as soon as it has been approved by the local authority, reducing the stress and costs of a delayed build.