If you are looking to take on a development project, whether it is an extension or a number of new build properties, a number of factors need to be considered in depth. This guide will take you through the process in step by step easy to understand sections, enabling all processes and costs of your project are dealt with efficiently.

Step 1 – The Design

First you need to find a competent designer to put your thoughts down on paper. When looking for an architect, architectural technologist or building designer, there are some key points as to what you should be looking for, they are as follows:

  • Does the practice have a professional website that is easy to navigate.
  • Request some examples of past projects that the practice has undertaken, in the form of drawings, photos etc.
  • Has the practice been recommended by a personal friend or professional company e.g another practice, builders or engineers.

With the above you can now make a calculated decision to appoint a practice to carry out the design development of your project.

The practice of interest should provide a professional quote for all stages of the project, which will be sent over to you for your perusal. It should be broken down into stages that are easy to understand with all required fees clearly shown. The 4 stages are as follows:

  1. Design/planning process
  2. Building regulations/structures
  3. Tender/contract liaison
  4. Site/construction


The chosen practice should take you through the following stages:

To arrange a convenient date to meet you on the site of the development, to assess how the project can progress. Your designer will now discuss the process with you. If for example you were having a 2 storey extension and a loft conversion, a set of plans will need to be drawn. The reason for this is so they can be submitted to the local authority as a planning or a permitted development application. The difference between the 2 is that different planning policies are attached to both methods, covering massing, aesthetics, privacy issues and many more. Your designer will be able to advise you on which method would be more appropriate for your project. Other factors will need to be considered at this stage as well for example Is your property in a conservation area, are you in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), is the property listed, has the property/site been developed in the past. Your designer will be able to obtain this information at the beginning of the project and determine the best way to move the project forward. The practice will then survey the existing property, ensuring all the information is collected to produce a set of existing plans and elevations, which is a mandatory requirement for submission of the application.  The survey can take a few hours or possibly longer depending upon the size of the property. Your designer will then draw up the existing information, which will provide a base to start designing based upon your brief. A set of preliminary drawings will be produced, which are open for discussion. You can then arrange a meeting with your designer to discuss the layouts. At this stage your designer will advise on what is possible with regard to the application, as it would be pointless submitting a design if it would only be refused. Once you are satisfied with the layout, the drawings can be finalised and prepared for submission. A site location plan and a block plan will need to accompany the application. Your designer/architect will be able to provide these additional drawings, however there may be a charge for this to obtain the OS map layout produced by various organisations. Additionally your project may require a planning statement or a D & A statement (Design & Access) if say for example your site is in a conservation area. Your designer/architect will also be able to provide these documents if necessary. When the application is ready for submission your designer/architect will submit the application either as paper copies of the drawings, documents and completed application forms. Alternatively the application can be submitted electronically via the Planning portal on line.  The local authority will require a fee for the submission and assessment of the application. The standard cost for an extension for PD would be £103 (2019 fees) and a planning application would be £206. The application can be now submitted. If the development is significantly larger then the council will provide all information regard to fees. Once the application has been submitted, it will be validated and assigned to the relevant planning officer to determine the application. This process will take a minimum of 8 weeks. The officer will assess the proposal and then either recommend it for approval or refusal. The officer will then pass it over to their manager for final sign off. With planning an application can never be 100% guaranteed to be approved, your designer/architect will have designed your project in accordance with planning policy to give your project the best possible chance of a positive outcome. If means necessary your designer/architect can take the application to appeal, in the event that the submitted application was refused. The process of appeal can be lengthy and stressful however your designer/architect should be able to assist and advise you on the best route to take, e.g if a planning consultant maybe required to fight your case, which should be connected with your designer/architect. Once the application has been approved there maybe some conditions as part of the approval, however your designer/architect can advise you on this. You are now ready to move onto the next stage Building regulations.

Step 2 – Construction Regulations

Building Regulations

The stage is now producing a package to determine how it will be built and making sure it is safe. Your designer/architect will advise as to what is necessary to produce to satisfy the local authority with regard to the current building regulations. Building regulations is set out covering areas from the safety of the structure to fire, heat loss & gain through to electrical installation and drainage. The full set of approved documents can be found on the planning portal website. Your designer/architect will then produce a set of drawings and documents to submit as either a building regulations application or a building notice. The difference between the 2 is a building regulations application will be checked by Building Control in compliance with the current regulations and archived on their database. Whereas a building notice application will not be assessed until the project commences on site. Various drawings and notes will need to be produced for submission for example based upon a 2 storey extension and loft conversion the following drawings should be produced:

  • Foundation layout
  • Ground floor plan
  • First floor plan
  • Second floor plan
  • Roof plan
  • Elevations
  • Sections
  • Building regulations notes

To accompany the above information structural calculations will need to be produced, for the structural elements e.g lintels beams etc. Your designer/architect should have a structural engineer they closely work with on a regular basis. The structural engineer will provide a set of calculations/drawings to accompany the architectural package when submitting the application. There will normally be a charge for this, unless your designer/architect has incorporated it into the original quotation, however this is not usually the case. The structural information does not necessarily need to be submitted to the local authority at the same time as the architectural package as a building regulations application. When submitting the building regulations application again the local authority will require a plan charge fee. This fee is calculated dependent upon the size of the development. Your designer/architect will be able to determine the required fee via the local authority website. During the process of producing the building regulations drawings and documents your designer/architect should again provide a preliminary set, which will be sent over to you for review. Your designer/architect will advise you on what is possible to modify/revise internally without affecting the structural integrity of the development. The building regulations package can now be finalised ready for submission to Building Control. The application can be submitted in hard copy or electronically via the local authority website or separate organisations like submit-a-plan. On submission the local authority will require the plan charge fee. The application will then be validated and assigned to the relevant building control officer for assessment. The standard time for building control to assess the application is normally 5 – 8 weeks, however it has been known that it can be dealt with within 3 weeks. During this process bulding control will issue a schedule of matters that they clarification on. Your designer/architect will deal with the queries and revise the package where necessary, which will be sent back to building control. The application will then be approved. You are now ready to move onto the next stage Tender.

Step 3 – Professional Appointment


The tender process will involve producing further detailed information to be sent out to prospective main contractors. Based upon the example of a 2 storey extension and loft conversion the further drawings and documents required are as follows:

  1. Ground floor services layout
  2. First floor services layout
  3. Second floor services layout
  4. First floor joist layout
  5. Second floor joist layout
  6. Specification

The services layouts will provide a layout for lighting, heating systems, sockets and switches etc. The joist layouts will provide quantities for costing of timbers. The specification will provide detailed instructions for the entire construction phase. The specification based upon the example will be approximately 35 – 45 pages of A4 covering all elements of the build and processes involved in it. The reason for producing these drawings and documents is so that when the tender package is sent out to prospective contractors is so an accurate quote can be provided, eliminating as many hidden costs as possible. Therefore removing the likely hood of escalating costs when the project starts on site. Also in the specification standard legal clauses, contract period and costing should be listed. So that if you wish it can be modified to suit your budget. Your designer/architect should send the tender package and all approved drawings out to 3 – 5 contractors for pricing. Normally your designer/architect will have a list of contractors they use on a regular basis, therefore removing the concerns of whether or not they will provide a good service at the right price. On return of the tenders from the contractors, your designer/architect will be able to advise you on which contractor would be most suitable for your project. Once you have chosen your contractor a start date for construction can be confirmed. Once a start date has been set Building control will need to be informed. Before construction starts building control will require an inspection fee, again this fee will be determined by the size and cost of the project. This fee will be required before construction starts on site. Using the example the requirement of a JCT (joint contract tribunal) maybe required, however for smaller projects it is not essential. The next stage will be on site.

Step 4 – The Build


Before the project starts on site your contractor should provide a program or schedule of works detailing elements of the build and dates for completion. Your designer/architect should provide a service which monitors the build process. The level of involvement will be subject to negotiation between yourself and your designer/architect. This can be on a weekly or monthly basis. Your designer/architect should produce a progress report for each visit and log any issues, which are to be rectified asap. The reports will give you piece of mind that your project is running as smoothly as possible. Payment methods can also be linked to this process for a number of reasons for example insurance of quality of work and bite sized payments to your contractor. At the end of the construction phase a final completion report should be produced raising any minor defects to be rectified before final payment to your contractor.

Throughout the whole process from inception to completion all professionals that you are to engage should have professional insurance policies, so that all work carried out is guaranteed.

If you follow these basic guidelines your project will be ran without any major difficulty. If you require any further information we are happy to help. Please do give us a call for a chat about your project.