Improving Your Home

Improving your Home

Many people now choose to improve their current home rather than moving to a new one, as the costs of moving are often prohibitively expensive. Working out what needs to done can be rather daunting, so we have highlighted a few areas that are worth considering before embarking on a project.

Choosing your Designer

Different size projects will require different levels of expertise. Architects are generally recommended for most design projects as they are highly trained and can bring a high level of design flair and experience. Anyone calling themselves an ‘Architect’ must be registered with the Architects Registration Board (ARB). If you decide to employ Architectural Design Firm, you will probably want to look at whether they are a RIBA Chartered Practice. This means that they have met some strict criteria set down by RIBA, and offers you further reassurance. RIBA publishes directories of registered practices, and they also have an online search facility. Large projects should usually be done by a Registered Architect but small home improvements can be done by a range of different suppliers, including Architects, Architectural Technicians or Surveyors. Other factors to consider when making your choice are any environmental and ethical issues that are important to your project, or any specific requirements that may necessitate finding an expert in particular issues, for example working with Historic or Listed Buildings. If you are about to embark on a project it is always important to check out thoroughly any suppliers you are going to use, for example by checking any Professional qualifications they have and making sure they have any necessary Insurance in place. Testimonials and feedback from other customers is also very useful, and is always worth reviewing.

Check Planning requirements

Some work may be done on your home without the need for planning permission. This is known as “Permitted Development”. More information on this can be found on the Planning Portal, but please be aware that some local authorities may have removed some permitted development rights, so you should always check with your local authority before commencing any work. If you do need planning permission, an application will need to be made to your local planning authority, usually your district or borough council. They will then display public notices and contact anyone close to the proposed development inviting any comments. These comments, together with any other relevant factors, such as any historic or environmental issues, will all be considered before planning permission can be granted. In order to ensure that your planning application has the best chance for success, it is very useful to employ the services of a Planning Professional, who has particular experience with your local area.

Scheduling the work

Depending on the nature of the work, there may be Environmental Issues to consider when you are deciding the scheduling of the work, as these are often seasonal. For example, if there is going to be any ground work carried out, you may need to consider if this is going to affect any wildlife that are protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, such as dormice, badgers or breeding, nesting and Wintering birds. Alterations to lofts or other external faces of house may necessitate a bat survey, and again the requirements can be different at different times of the year. If in doubt, it is best to consult an Ecologist specialising in the particular area of concern.

Building Regulations

For most types of work carried out on improving your home, you will need to ensure that you also comply with Building Regulations. These have been produced to ensure that any building works done are not dangerous. There may also be environmental issues that need to be considered. Again, you will need to contact your local authority to find out their specific requirements, and using a Professional to ensure nothing is overlooked is always useful, and can prevent costly mistakes. if you are having a large project done, with construction and building work, you may also have responsibilities under the Construction Health and Safety requirements. Appointing a Project Manager may be advantageous in these situations.