Every project is different and there are so many factors which determine this.  A long-complicated planning process can add months to a build which is why it is important to use an architect or designer that has a good track record with the local authority. Neighbours not being onboard can draw out the planning process or make party wall agreements lengthy and stressful, choosing the wrong builder or one that isn’t experienced in extensions can delay the build considerably. Its not all doom and gloom, it doesn’t have to be complicated and lengthy, spending time choosing the right company for you makes all the difference.

Doing your research – 1-4 weeks.

This in my opinion is the most important stage of the whole project. It’s a time you can spend searching for photos and examples of similar extensions and styles that you can share with your designers, making sure your chosen architectural designer is on the same page as you from the start makes all the difference. One of our biggest challenges is making sure the extension design is perfect for our clients’ needs and photographs, plans and text really help.  This is also the time for you to research your architectural designer and to arrange to meet them, at Fluent ADS we offer a free consultation where we will come to visit the property and discuss your ideas, it also gives us an opportunity to assess the house and ensure there will be no difficulties during the planning process. When choosing an architect or designer have a look at their reviews online, make sure they have completed projects similar to your own and research into whether they regularly work in your area. Some architects and designers suggest they work nationwide, but we feel whoever you choose should have a good understanding and working relationship with your local council, it’s important to choose someone you feel comfortable working with and that you trust. You need to have input in the project, but the designer should also lead you and make suggestions, it is your home and you have to be happy, but they are the expert and should be giving you advise throughout the process.

Design – 2-6 weeks.

We always aim to have first draft plans back with our client two weeks after completing a full measured survey of the property. Occasionally that is it for the process, the clients are happy with the proposals and we can then move on with the process. More often than not we will go through a few round of changes and discussions around the plans, whether this is via email, phone call, screen share or site visit this is up to you, we like you to be as comfortable as possible so leave this down to you, if we feel the project isn’t progressing or something needs explaining in a different way we may step in and suggest a different method. We have completed over 1000 projects and feel it is important t keep this process moving at a steady pace, it is easy to let a project drag on but feel it is important to work on the designs while they are fresh in everyone’s minds. There is no limit to the time taken at this point as we appreciate everyone is different and sometimes life gets in the way.

Planning Applications – 8-10 weeks

We will manage this process for you, the length of planning will be determined on your proposed extension and the planning application type. If your proposals fall within in permitted development, we can apply for a lawful development certificate which are determined in 8 weeks and can occasionally be resolved quicker although it is very rare due to the high workloads at the council. If the proposals need a house holder or full planning application, then this process could take up to 10 weeks. These timelines are guidelines and in some cases the council may ask for an extension of time, if your application needs to be decided by a planning committee which is usually the case when you receive a high number of objections, you can expect to add at least four weeks to the timeline. We will always design extensions with the best chance of gaining a consent as quickly as possible but as hundreds of applications are being submitted to each council every week we do sometimes face delays in this process but will do everything we can to make this part of your project as smooth and fast as possible.

Building Regulations and Structural Calculations – 2-4 weeks

We produce building regulations plans in house for all projects and outsource the Structural calculations which we will manage on your behalf and deal with any queries the engineers may have, at times we may need input from yourself or your builder. We send first draft plans within two weeks of instruction and the engineers work on a similar timescale depending on workload. Building control require structural calculations so you will need to complete this part of the process and more and more local authorities are now insisting on building regulations plans, we can advise if your property falls within a council that requires these. Even if they do not, they are a good idea to have as it avoids any potential delays during the build. We will work out every element of the build, including insulation, drainage and all the other points that will be needed to comply with building control.

Building Control process – 1 -8 weeks

There are several options for this part of the project. You can work with the local councils building control or a private company who are approved by the local council. You may also decide to obtain a building notice, which is where onsite inspections take place during the build. This is a preferable option if you are on a tight schedule or working on a simple build. If you have a more complicated build or want some piece of mind then the full plans sign off is a great option, during this process the building regulation plans and structural engineers will be fully assessed prior to the start of the build addressing any potential issues beforehand and avoiding delay.

Party wall notice – 1-12 weeks

Not all projects will need a Party Wall notice, if you are touching a shared wall or building within 3m of another property you will need to go through this process, most loft conversions and rear extensions will need some form of notice to be produced. This can be a very simple process and can just be the case of informing the neighbours of the type of work and when it will be done. It is more complicated when your neighbours have concerns over the project and if this is the case a party wall surveyor will need to be instructed which will add an additional cost to the project and can add delays as you will need to complete this stage prior to commencing work.

The Build – 1 – 6 months

The build length is really affected by what you are having done, how many extensions you are doing, the size of the project and the team you choose to build it. A loft conversion will generally take 6-8 weeks, single storey extensions are 12 weeks, a double storey 14-18 weeks, a house with multiple extensions can be up to 6 months and a large new build property can take up to 12 months. All these timelines are hugely influenced by the builder and the weather conditions. Make sure when selecting a builder you try and find out how large their team is and how many other projects they are working on as I have seen projects go way over the target date as builders stretched themselves to much and pulled staff off one job to finish another off.

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