How do you know if the builder you choose is any good?

Look for a builder who is a member of an affiliation such as the Federation of Master Builders or a builder who is enrolled on one of the Government initiatives schemes for controlling the “Cowboy Builder’ for instance, Lancashire County Councils Safe Trader Scheme.

Always choose an established builder as a builder who has a good reputation to preserve is more likely to be around if you have problems later.

Never choose a builder on the basis of a low estimate alone.  Good builders who refuse to cut corners will seldom be able to compete on a price with those that do.

Avoid builders who offer VAT free deals in return for cash payments.  A builder who will fiddle the taxman will probably not think twice about fiddling you as well!!!

Do I need planning permission to build an extension to my house?

YES, you will need to make either a Full Plans or Building Notice application.

Do I need planning permission to build a detached domestic garage?

NO, providing the garage does not exceed 30m and does not contain habitable accommodation.  The garage has to be one metre from the boundary of the property and is built substantially of non-combustible material

Do I need planning permission to build an attached domestic garage?

YES, irrespective of size. The fee for a garage under 40m in internal floor area is less than that for one between 40m and 60m.  An attached garage over 60m is classed as an extension, and the Building Regulations fee will be based on the floor area.

Do I need planning permission to build a porch?

A porch is exempt if:

  • The floor area does not exceed 30m
  • A door is retained between the porch and the main building
  • There is no drainage within the porch
  • Any glazing below 800mm in windows and 1,500mm in doors and sidelight is safety glazing

You should also ensure that a porch does not cover outlets to boilers or other flues as well as the only ventilation openings to WC’s and other rooms

Do I need planning permission to build a conservatory?

If all of the flowing conditions are met then NO, otherwise the answer is YES.  Conservatories attached to domestic dwellings are exempt from Building Regulations providing:

  • The internal floor area does not exceed 30m²
  • The roof is transparent or translucent (polycarbonate or similar material which will allow light to pass through)
  • The conservatory is constructed at ground floor level
  • The conservatory is separated from the rest of the dwelling by door(s) and/ or windows
  • Glass in critical locations is safety gloss.  “Critical locations’ means up to 1,500mm from floor level in doors and side panels, and up to 800mm from floor level in window

How can I tell if my loft can be converted?

Most people who look up into their loft space see that they have no means of using it as a room because of the modern built “W” shaped roof trusses that form the structure of the roof. However, we can remove these and construct steel or timber trusses, which run the length of the loft and provide all the support necessary.

How do can I tell if my loft is too small?

In order to comply with building regulations, the loft has to be a minimum of 2m or 7’6″ at its highest point (i.e. the apex of the roof). These measurements are taken from the top surface of the ceiling boards below, to the felt at the very apex of the roof. With that in mind, we can make the most of even the smallest lofts with the imaginative use of dormer windows and staircase positioning.

I have a water tank and a chimney in my loft, is that a problem?

We have our own time-served, Gas Safe engineers who can easily reposition any plumbing to maximise usable space in the loft. However, chimneystacks usually have to remain in position, but can occasionally be removed.

How long will a loft conversion take?

For an average sized home, from commencement of work to completion, we would normally complete the project within 5-7 weeks.  Obviously this would depend on size.

What about planning permission?

Planning permission is only required for a loft conversion if you wish to put a dormer on the front of your house and your house is within 26 meters of the road, or if the house has been substantially extended in the past. We will deal with all aspects of the planning application to ease your way through the process.

What are the Building Regulations?

The building regulations are a legal requirement that apply to building work and are aimed at achieving minimum standards of construction to ensure the health and safety of people in or around buildings.  We are used to dealing with Building Control and local Councils, and we will complete all necessary paperwork for you. The cost is usually £300-£500 depending on the council.

What is an approved inspector?

The building control process has now been regulated and it is no longer necessary to have your building work inspected by the local authority building control department.  The government now approves private companies that can do this, often in a shorter time scale and at a reduced cost.

What is permitted development?

Certain types of home improvement can be carried out without applying for planning permission.  Examples could be a porch up to 3m², certain types of conservatories and in some cases, a single storey extension.  However, Access Builders recommend that you submit drawings to the Local Planning Authority for written confirmation of your rights and in most cases a Building Regulations application will also be required.

What is the Party Wall Act?

If you intend to carry building work out within 3 meters of a neighbours property you need to inform them of your intentions and obtain agreement from them.