The new year is often a time when resolutions are made to improve our lives. And if you’re after a major change, it doesn’t come bigger than a planning a new renovation project in my book.
I may be biased, but updating your home is a great way to make your life better, create spaces designed to meet you and your family’s every need, and improve existing ones. If you’ve had the whole family over at Christmas, chances are you’ve realised what works for your home and what doesn’t – the ultimate stress test. So, if it’s happy new year and happy new project planning, here are my first steps to help get things off the ground…
Preparation and brief
To really understand what you want to achieve, write a list of what you want to improve. Involve everyone you live with and consider how long you intend to stay in that home, to help you set out budgets and future plans. Collate images from websites such as Pinterest and magazines to visually help you translate what you like to another person and form a brief. Extending or changing a property will require scaled drawings for approvals and an accurate idea of what you can spend. You will usually go through a few drafts before submitting plans for permission or working out correct costings.
Planningportal is a great tool for researching your new renovation project, as it allows you to see applications submitted in your area. Get to know your neighbours, too. It is always helpful to see what other people have achieved, but they will also be informed – and have the opportunity to object – once planning permission is submitted, so making friends is advisable. Previously granted permissions are also a great way to establish what you will likely be able to do.
Inform your direct neighbours of any planned works and get them on your side early. They may also be thinking of extending, so you could combine the works to save on costs and time. Research rules and restrictions in your area, as they may limit what you can do.
If your project involves adding square footage or changing your building’s exterior, it is important to know if you need approval. Planning permission is the formal go-ahead for the erection or alteration of buildings, hence you will need it if you are looking to build a new home, make a major change to your property – such as an extension – or change its façade.
However, some projects fall under permitted development (PD). It’s worth investigating, as you can achieve quite a lot within it – such as a loft conversion or a single-storey extension up to 8m from the property’s original wall on a detached house, or up to 6m for a terraced or semi-detached property – both no more than 4m in height. While no application is needed for PD, you can obtain a lawful development certificate from your planning authority.
The Planning Portal lists all documents you have to submit for your application, as well as the fee – £206 in England, £202 in Scotland, or £190 in Wales. From the time you submit your application, it usually takes eight weeks to get a decision, although it can take up to 13 weeks.
Building regulations approval
Whatever the scale of your project, if you’re altering the structure, plumbing, or electrics, you will need to apply for building regulations consent. Designed to protect people’s safety in their homes, it sets standards for construction and design and improves fuel and power conservation to protect and enhance the environment and promote sustainable development. If you live in a flat and are thinking of changing the internal layout, even without extending, you could need building control and leaseholder or management consent for any changes.
Experts in the field
How much an architect charges will depend on your project and the level of their involvement. Obtain at least three quotes and speak to neighbours, friends, and family for recommendations. Whoever they put you in contact with will have worked in the area and may have valuable existing relationships with the local planning authority.
When properly planned, a new renovation project is exciting – it will improve you and your family’s life and can be a great investment. It may not always be easy, but I guarantee it will be worth it. When you are enjoying the result, you will quickly forget the dust and mess it took to get there, promise.
You may also enjoy: Setting a renovation budget: where to start
Featured image: iStock.
Hayley Robson is the creative director at Day True.