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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first step for my project?

Having decided between an extension or loft conversion, the first step is to choose an architect/structural engineer. Whilst an architect can provide the general layout of the proposals, he will need to engage separately the services of a qualified structural engineer to determine structural member sizes for the approval of Building Regulations. The fees of this work will generally be additional to the architect's fees. Paramount Structural Engineering Services Ltd (PSESL) can undertake both of the above functions on an overall agreed fee.

Do I require Planning Permission?

Unless the extension or loft conversion falls within the limits of Permitted Development, planning approval will be required. There are special rules for developments in conservation areas. Please contact us for up to date advice on current rules for your area. Whilst Planning permission is never guaranteed, PSESL has achieved a high success rate on applications.

What happens if Planning Permission is refused?

If Planning Application is refused, you have the option of either amending the plans or appealing to the Planning Inspectorate against the decision. Further information on the appeals process can be obtained from the Planning Inspectorate website.

What is Permitted Development?

This relates to the size of the extensions or loft conversions which are permitted without the need for planning permission. The latest information may be obtained from the Planning Portal . It is strongly advised to confirm these specific requirements by either contacting your Local Authority Planning Department or PSESL.

What fees do I need to allow for prior to carrying out any works?

The fees which need to be considered are, of course for the preparation of detailed plans, any associated calculations and then fees for the checking of these plans by the Local Authority. There are Planning Application fees (if planning permission is required) and Building Regulations fees. You may also require a Build Over Agreement if the surface water/sewer pipe within your plot of land is a public sewer. You will also need to engage the services of a party wall surveyor. Generally speaking, an extension, loft conversion, formation of through lounge or a chimney removal will necessitate a Party Wall Agreement with your neighbour. You can find out about the Party Wall Act and details of Party Wall Surveyors from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

What other fees do I need to consider once the work has been started?

There is an inspection fees levied by the Local Authority. The inspections are carried out periodically by the Building Control Officers to ensure that your contractor carries out the works in accordance with the previously approved plans. The general trend now appears to be to employ private Building Control Inspectors who do similar works and can also issue the completion Certificates. Please contact PSESL for further details on this subject.

What would be the cost of the construction works?

The estimated cost of the works can only be provided by your contractor once the drawings and specification have been prepared. These may include other general maintenance works such as painting and tiling etc on top of the construction works. PSESL has developed an aide-memoir for smaller likely works to be included in your project. It is strongly recommended to seek alternative quotations (at least 3) from reputed contractors for the proposed works.

What factors affect cost of works for an extension?

The cost of the foundations could be greater if the soil, on excavation for the foundations, is poor and it may be necessary to go down deeper. This is singly the most expensive item of the works. Also, if there are mature trees within the vicinity of the extension, these will have an effect on the depth of the foundations. Your structural engineer will have taken these into consideration when he prepares his plans and specifications. If would be advisable to discuss the rates for any additional excavations with your appointed contractor prior to signing any contract.

Where can I find out about any changes to the legislations for loft conversions or extensions?

In the first instance your Local Authority would be able to provide any recent changes. The Planning Portal is a good site to visit to get the most up to date information.

How can I select a contractor?

We have a range of specialist contractors to service your needs. Please contact us for more information.

What should I do if the extension/loft conversion has already been built without notification to the Council?

These types of situations should be avoided by getting proper plans drawn and approval obtained from the Local Authority before any site works. However, where works have been completed or still incomplete and no permission has been obtained, you should inform the Local Building Control Officer as soon as possible and seek expert advice by contacting our structural engineer to ensure that the structural members are of adequate strength and apply for retrospective permission. As stated above, this situation should be avoided.

What are the fees for drawing up the plans and associated works?

This depends on the scope of the works. Please contact us for project specific fees. The fees quoted would allow for one site visit to carry out a detailed survey for the preparation of the plans and any calculations. The fees will allow for the liaison with the planners if planning application is required, liaising with the Building Control Section of the Council and Build Over Applications where this is required. Where revisions to the plan are required either initiated by the client post approval of the draft plans or as required by the planning officer, any additional fees will be discussed depending upon the amount of re-work required. The Local Authority and Water Authority fees are additional to the PSESL plan fees. Please note, we do not charge VAT.

Please contact us for any queries you have - we aim to get back to you within 48 hours.