Thinking of Creating your own home?
25th April 2012
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Thinking of creating your own home


I don’t know about you but the thought of actually having helped with the construction of your own living space whether it be designing a complete new build, renovating an existing house or creating an extension to your existing home always gives me a great satisfaction of thinking that you have played a part in its creation.  It is also a blessing in disguise that time dims the memory.  Invariably the process can be stressful.  If you are actively involved in doing the work it is usually quite dusty and dirty and unless you are careful a project, which you think will take 3 months can easily stretch out to 9 months.

One of the other major factors, which causes delay and un-proportionate stress is an overspend of the projected budget, particularly where there aren’t adequate financial resources to cover the extra expenditure.

I do not wish to sound trite, but in the case of building work the success of the job is all down to the planning.  One has to ensure the project is conducted like a military operation.  You need to work out exactly what you want to do and also how much you want to spend to make sure you have adequate finances available to ensure completion of the works.  Contractors do not take lightly to being employed to complete the work, only to find that you are unable to pay them.

Starting from basic principles one either has to have an old existing house or a building site.  You then have to have a rough idea of what you are looking to achieve.  There is a lot to be gained from obtaining the services of a professional designer to create proper drawings.  For small scale works it is possible to use an architectural technician or draftsman to draw up the designs.  However, if the work involves structural changes it is a very good  idea to consider utilising a qualified architect.  The initial consultation should be free, but after that you will be in for paying professional fees.  That being said in many instances what you spend on the services of an architectural technician or architect you will more than save with the cost of the final building works.  The most important thing with your choice of professional is to ensure that you have an empathy with them and they have a full understanding of what you are trying to achieve.  It really does pay to spend time talking to them, so they almost enter into your mind and thought processes.

I always suggest that it is a good idea to gain personal recommendations because at least then you know that the professional involved has worked well for other people.

Once the plans have been worked up to final building drawings, the next stage will be to obtain a residential planning permission.  In our location, the Vale of Evesham, the local planning authority is Wychavon District Council.  One would need to check with your local council to confirm who the planning authority for your area is.  Planning permissions should ideally be turned around by the local authority in 8 weeks, but contentious plans could end up passing between the applicants and the planning department for much longer.  We have been involved with planning projects where the planning process has taken up to 1½ years.  However these projects have been more contentious, where the devil is in the detail.


Some projects are exempt from planning and since 2008 the rules on permitted development have been relaxed.  Conservatories and extensions that add less than 10% on to the area of the original house and many internal alterations usually don’t require permission.  If one visits the Governments planning portal website ( or call in at your local planning office for a quick consultation they will very quickly tell you whether you do need planning or not.

If your building work affects a shared wall or foundations are being dug below ground level, in close proximity to your neighbour’s boundary you may need to find out if the Party Wall Act applies.  If it does you must serve all neighbouring owners a party wall notice before you start work.  Our office has a specialist party wall surveyor who can undertake this type of work.  Many other firms of building surveyors have similar professionals.  The type of notice served will depend on the distance between the planned works and the neighbouring property, and it is a good idea to get it right from the outset.

While  you are obtaining your planning approval notice and serving the party wall notices you can make your application for building regulation approval.  If the building project is large enough then it is likely that the building inspector will make staged inspections to ensure that the work is carried out to a good standard.  At the end of the project, providing he is happy that all the regulations and planning conditions have been complied with, as listed in the original planning permission then the building inspector will sign a completion certificate, which makes the building saleable if you ever decide to move from your dream house.

There are charges for this service, but having surveyed houses where the necessary paperwork hasn’t been put in place it does make the property almost un-mortgage able if you can’t prove the standard of building works that have been completed. This  is particularly relevant to attic conversions where changes have been made to wooden roof structures, which support the roof tiles.  

If you are thinking of undertaking a building project I would emphasise that the more work you can undertake at the planning stage, the less likely you are to waste precious money in paying for the cost of building works.  Do not rush the process, have a go at drawing your planned changes or design of your proposed house in rough. Always know where North is on the site, as this will tell you where the sun rises and sets.  Leave it for a few days, come back and check and if you are still happy with the design of the property, at that stage look to commit to fine drawings using either the services of an architect or an architectural technician, talk to a number of building surveyors and see what services they can offer you.  Always ensure that you have the appropriate paperwork in place, both in terms of planning approval notices and building regulation application.  Hopefully you will then have a lot of fun seeing the project come together.  As ever, if we can be of assistance please do not hesitate to contact us at our offices in Evesham. 

This is an Original Blog by The Property Doctor, Tony Rowland, of Timothy Lea and Griffiths.

About the Author

Alan J

Member since: 10th July 2012

Whilst running The Best of Evesham I am also locally focussed on doing what I can for the local community in profiling what is going on.A prolific user of Social Media-We offer Social Media Management...

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