Martin Roberts Associates
Martin Roberts Associates

Frequent Project Questions

“We need a bigger house but can’t afford to move.”

We love our house, if only it were bigger”

“Where we live has everything, moving would sacrifice so much just for a bigger home”

These are the most common statements we hear when the topic of ‘moving up’ is discussed.

Most people don’t appreciate how simple a loft conversion or home extension can be, if done correctly.

Often planning permission is not needed, but even if it is, this isn’t necessarily a deterrent to undertake such projects. The key on all aspects of home improvements of this nature is to get correct, factual and professional advice. Too often we hear anecdotal comments diluted from users to user which results in incorrect and misleading advice being taken as fact.

We can offer a few suggestions to ensure you take the correct path for loft conversions or home extensions, so you can base the need to improve against the physical ability of your home to ‘withstand’ the work /design, legislative requirements and ultimately the cost. Once armed with this information, you are then best able to make an informed decision.

Do I need planning permission (PP)?

Your local authority will advise whether PP is required for your project or you if are able to undertake the works under your Permitted Rights to Develop (PD).

 

What are PD?

These are best explained via www.planningportal.gov.uk  This is an excellent site where the consumer can research the most common home improvements and be given an good grounding on the requirements to meet approvals.

 

What about Building Regulations, (BR)?

All improvement of this nature will require BR approval regardless of whether planning permission is required. This is key, as unless you receive a completion certificate from the Building Inspector, the improvements won’t be legally recognised, essential when trying to        re sell your property.

 

How much will it cost?

You need to consider the worth of this quotation very carefully. If you only seek an approximation and understand the limitations of such a value, then all is well and good. If you base any funding or realistic conversion to reality then be aware. Until plans are drawn and Building Control approval for the project (that is the materials content/component) are agreed, any figure quoted will not be rigid and may give you a false understanding of the actual costs involved.

We only ever give formal quotes, which translate into a contractual price if the client proceeds once we have plans and building control approval. We cannot stress enough that this is the only way to avoid paying ‘extras’ that are not derived from your change of mind.

 

Do I need an architect?

No, there is no formal or legal requirement to use an architect and there are several options available to you. We advise if your project is complex and the design brief is quite contemporary then go the route of a RIBA (Royal institute of British Architects) chartered architect. We use Peter Dickinson of PD Associates.

 

If your project is a standard build, whether a dormer roof conversion or home extension, often the most cost effective route will be to engage a technical planner. Their fees can be over £1000.00 less than architects but still afford the client all necessary skills and experience to provide Planning and or Building Control plans and Building Control construction notes. We use David Tubbs of DT Designs.

 

Peter and David both have a strong and established record of great customer service, realistic fees and accurate drawings with detailed construction notes. They are independent from us which enforces the integrity of the design they create for you, ensuring it is in the best interest of the client and not the builder. 

 

How long will it take?

Most domestic loft conversion takes between 6 and 10 weeks, but will depend on the style, size and location (access) of you home. Extensions can be between 6 and 15 weeks depending if they are single storey or two. We always provide a detailed weekly programme with any quotation illustrating the build time for your project.

 

Will there be any extra costs?

No, not unless you wish to add to the agreed specification. If we price your project from plans and building control approved construction notes, there will be no deviation in cost.

We would seek to obtain all local authority or third party disbursements prior to any start so you were fully aware of all fees applicable to build your project. (Note, our quotes are valid for 3 months).

 

Will there be any mess?

 Yes, unfortunately works of this nature will always create dust and debris. We protect any internal areas of your home requiring access with ‘correx’ (corrugated plastic sheeting) and dust sheets.

Daily the site is cleaned and at the end of the project we engage a local domestic cleaning company to undertake a clean down of all common areas of your home to ensure the minimal disruption as possible. Our operatives use a weekly serviced site wc so your bathrooms are not accessed unless we are working in them.

 

Do I have to liaise with the Council?

You are welcome to but we always include this within our project management, whether it be the planning department or local building inspector. We will liaise through each stage of the build to ensure the appropriate certificates are issued upon completion.

 

Do I have to pay VAT?

Unless the works are solely for a registered disabled person then yes, VAT will be added to the value of works to form a final contract price. We often hear that a client knows someone who is not VAT registered but able to quote for them and or has undertaken similar works. This indicates to us that they cannot be doing these projects as a profession as often the cost of one project alone will exceed the annual VAT threshold.

 

Can you start next week?

No. Any competent, experienced and professional developer will have a lead in time of at least 4 – 8 weeks.  Anyone able to start immediately should lead you to question their competence.

 

Can we get any references?

Definitely, our past and current clients are our best means of advertising. They are able to discuss and or show you their project and confirm the level of advice and service we afford to help you best decide on who to engage for your project.

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© Martin Roberts Ltd, Registered in England & Wales, June 2007, Company Number: 6286570, VAT No: 191300733