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Home extension Design Services from Architects and Designer

Here we break down and explain the relevant parts of most home extension designers services.  Some offer a full and comprehensive home extension design service while others may only offer partial services .

Initial visit

The Home extension design service normally starts with an initial visit. This will last from around half an hour to several hours depending on the size and complexity of you project. After the opening discussion to establish your requirements, your home extension designer will normally produce a detailed report and fee quote or some other form of written appraisal that may contain rough sketches.

This collaborative process should give you an agreed proposal by the end of the visit and follow up report. This can then form the basis and extent of their services you wish to purchase.

TIP:- Beware of any home extension designer or architect that refuses to visit site to discuss your requirements but is able top provide you with some basic for pricing his services over the telephone or email.  Only a proper face to face meeting on site can establish the correct basis of the work required.  Avoid internet 'home extension plans drawing' for a fixed fee unless they are local and can visit your property.

Initial measured site survey

After agreeing to terms in writing a measured site & property survey will be required together with survey photographs. This will enable your home extension designer or architect to prepare fully scaled and useful drawings of your proposals.  It is usually necessary to have drawings of the existing building in a CAD (computer aided drawings) format. For some projects this is vital, for others, less so. Your home extension designer or architect can advise you on what is suitable for your project or whether they have this level of resources. 

TIP:- Beware of any home extension designer who outsources every measured survey to a CAD surveyor. Some properties are very complicated and large and would benefit from a specialist survey team external to the home extension designer or architect - Most do not.  Measuring and getting intimate with the existing property by the actual home extension designer or architect is a very vital part of the design  process which should not normally be outsourced.

Initial Scheme proposal

After completion of the measured survey (up to 4 weeks) most home extension designers or architects will send you a set of drawings being the measured site survey (all plans and elevations) & their proposal (plans & elevations) that may include a set of alternative arrangements for your considerations.  This should be presented to you with a covering letter explaining the designers thoughts.

These plans can be in the form of 2D CAD or traditional hand drawn systems and are usually on a paper format size of between A3 and A1 size.  Some home extension design agents can  send you pdf documents via email as well but this is not advisable for your initial checking of the design proposal due to the screen interface limitations.  Looking at a proper scaled plan on parer is usually best.  These existing and proposed drawings should be at a scale of between 1:100 and 1:50 or a mix and match of both.

Some home extension designers offer 3D computer modeling but this should not be the only format for the design work.  This should only be considered as an ancillary service.

TIP:- The home extension designer or architect should be inputting some of the own design thoughts and proposals for your consideration rather than simply working on your exact interpretation of your requirements.  Avoid any home extension designer or architect that is not being proactive for you.

Planning Application level design scheme

After incorporating any client amendments on the initial scheme proposal, the drawings need to be enhanced and prepared for the Planning application of the Certificate of Lawful development if the scheme falls within the sited Permitted Development allowances.

Your home extension designer or architect will prepare the application forms and act as central organiser or agent for the scheme through the Council process.  The scheme may benefit from some pre-application advise from the Planning Dept. prior to formal submission of the application and your home extension designer will advise you of the options and issues.

You will get advise from your designer on how to handle or informal the immediate neighbours or people that may be affected by your home extension scheme.

You should also get advise from your home extension designer or agent as to whether you require any additional specialist consultant reports to support your Planning application e.g - tree report.

TIP:- Your are very reliant upon the initiative and experience of your selected home extension designer in preparing the best path for an easy route through Planning.  Any half baked or ill thought out details will hinder your Planning application.

Possible interim services - Planning Appeals

In some rare cases the planning application is refused.  If a negotiated amendment to the scheme cannot be agreed, some clients want to pursue an Planning Appeal.  Most home extension designers or architects will be able to handle an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate using the written representations method in most cases.

TIP:- Never go straight to appeal right after a refusal.  Always try to address the refusal reasons within your modified design to obtain a compromised planning approval in the bag first before appealing if possible. 

Upgrade of scheme for construction level drawings

The Planning Dept do not require detailed construction level drawings so the Planning scheme will need to be enhanced with additional drawings and details complete with a specification manual for the Building Regulations application and for the builders tendering process.

The more detail that you have in the way of drawings and information, the more control you will have over your project both in terms of quality and budget. Your home extension designer or architect will be able to advise you on the best level of detail for your project where appropriate.

TIP:- Some home extension  designers are avoiding this service and leaving the home owner to fine someone else.  Get a firm commitment in writing right from the start that your home extension designer can and will provide this service.

Obtaining tender prices from builders

Most home owner are able to contact and obtain builder prices them selves from the designers drawings and specifications.  However, some homeowners do not want to do this and this should be an ancillary service offered by them if required.

TIP:- Obtaining builder prices can be a frustrating process as many builders do not communicate well or good at the administration process.  Many builders also have problems obtaining trade prices from plumbers, electricians etc. so you do need to be unstable and patient for any delays in the builder being late with their tender price.

Contract administration during the works

Many clients are well adapt at engaging the builder and monitoring the works on site.  However, many homeowners want the builders works monitored by the home extension designer and to control the administration process of the contract for managing variations and agreeing interim valuations for example.

Your home extension designer or architect should be able to offer this service as well.  If they are unable ask them why?

TIP:- Many homeowners refer to this service as 'project manager' which is incorrect.  Project management is always completed by the main contractor for scheduling and organising materials and labour.

Other specialist consultants

Your scheme may require design advise or documents from external; specialists for compliance under Building Regulations.  The most common external consultants would be structural engineers and SAP heat loss assessors.

Your home extension designer should again be able to act as co-ordinator for these other consultants.  You will be required to pay their fees direct in most cases.

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