• Tips for Undertaking a Building Project or Extension

    The new year has started off with a number of enquiries but I have noticed a number of these are around consumers and issues with their project.  This started to make me think about what were the similarities between the issues.  All the projects had a common theme, the client had first approached a builder or a contractor about their project.  They had gone to them to discuss what could be achieved and ultimately what it would cost.

    Before anyone starts a project the first thing they often want to know is can they afford it, so I can see the attraction of going straight to a builder to discuss the project.  But how can you get a full reflection of the cost without knowing all the details of the project?  I work closely with builders who do exactly this, get a call from a customer and go out to look at the project, but they always discuss some of the issues with me and I will go and look at the project before they quote.  Without this professional advice issues such as Planning, Building Regulations, Party Walls and Structural cannot be fully appreciated and therefore even excluded or totally forgotten about.  I looked at a garage extension last week that now had enforcement issues because the customer was told it didn’t require a Building Regulations application.

    Another enquiry was for an 8m deep extension, where the client thought it wouldn’t need Planning Permission because of the recent changes to Permitted Development they had seen in the press, these changes haven’t been introduced and after consultation aren’t likely.  Listed Buildings also see similar issues, with clients instruction work on the internals believing that this is ok as it is only the façade that is Listed.  In all of these issues it is always the building owner that is held responsible and left picking up the pieces.

    You would think that with all the information available on the internet that consumers would be more informed but there are still so many horror stories of projects going wrong.  Unfortunately the internet doesn’t always show a true picture of what legislation needs to be considered for each project.  Each project is different with different projects to consider, this is where the advice of a professional becomes invaluable.  Here are our five things to consider if you are thinking of undertaking a building project:

    1. If you are thinking of undertaking a construction project then talk to a professional, most Chartered Surveyors will come and meet you for free and then discuss what you need to consider.
    2. Don’t focus on finding a builder and what it will cost first, check what permissions you need and what applications need to be made.
    3. If you approach a builder first ask them about Planning Permission, Building Regulations and Party Walls, if you are not sure contact your Local Authority to discuss the project.
    4. Get at least three quotes and try to have these based on a set of construction drawings, not just based on a meeting where you discussed what you think you might want.  Make sure the quote is detailed and you know exactly what you are getting.  This is something that you hear all the time, but the number of projects that start based on only one quote.
    5. Don’t pay anything upfront.  Get a detailed breakdown of all the costs for the project, including all professional fees.  If you are asked to pay 25% before even a drawing is completed think is this right and do you want to continue.

    If in doubt contact a professional for impartial advice or feel free to email us.


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