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FAQ's 'Ask the Experts'

If you have any questions about using an architect, costs, planning permission or building regulations you can find out more on this page

About Architect Your Home - Interior Your Home

What criteria do you use when selecting an architect or designer for me?

We make our selection of which architect or designer you will work with based upon a balance of a number of factors:

  • Locality: most people want someone relatively local who will have experience working on a similar property and with your local planning office before, which can be very useful if you need to apply for planning permission.
  • Availability: we try to ensure that you will be provided with an Architect or designer who is able to come and see you within a week or so.
  • Relevant expertise: if (for example) you have a listed building, or a particular interest in green issues, we know which of our architects and designers are particularly good with such projects and we will try to steer accordingly.
  • Personality: Our account managers know all of the architects and designers in the network very well and will try to match appropriate personalities based upon the initial conversation they have with each new customer.
  • Customer choice: The architects and designers are profiled on the website and sometimes new customers will express a preference based upon what they have seen of them.

All of our architects are fully qualified ARB registered architects and all the architects and designers are very experienced with residential design. They have gone through a full selection and training programme by Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home so whoever you work with, you can be assured you will be getting the best possible advice.

How do I know I will get an architect/designer that designs a style I want?

All of our architects and designers are experienced with residential design who are able to work across a range of designs and styles. The Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home system was created to actively encourage our customers to get involved with the design process, which ensures they get the design they want rather than having a style imposed on them. All projects start with an initial visit – the interactive design session with your architect. During the initial visit you will be heavily involved in the design process – your ideas and feedback will be encouraged to ensure the final designs are exactly what you want. Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home has to date worked on over 7000 homes spanning a huge range of client briefs and styles. Have a look at our gallery to see some of the of projects that we have worked on.

How qualified are your architects and designers?

As well as all of the architects within the network being fully qualified ARB registered architects, all Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home architects and designers have also undergone a strict selection and training programme with Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home. This way you can be certain you are getting expert advice from architects and designers experienced in residential projects.

Will the architect/designer be able to tell me if what I have in mind is feasible/the best possible solution?

Yes. The objective of the initial visit is to make sure you are fully informed and in the best position possible to make a decision and move forward. Your architect/designer will review all the options that time allows with you and discuss the implications of each of these options. They will endeavour to answer any questions you may have about any aspect of the project and process ahead.

What is the structure of the company?

Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home is a licensed network. This means that architects and designers apply to join our network and we select the best ones based on a set of criteria. All of our architects are fully qualified ARB registered architects and everyone in the network is experienced in domestic architecture and all have undergone a full training programme so you can be sure you will receive high quality, professional advice.

Do you offer free visits?

We do not believe anything constructive can be achieved in a free 45 minute sales chat. Our initial visits are designed to get your project going as quickly as possible. What typically might take 6 weeks of to-ing and fro-ing between you and your architect can now be achieved in one of our initial four and seven hour visits. We ensure you are fully involved in the process, in control and clear about what is happening.

How do I know whether I need a half or full day visit?

It generally depends on the size of your project. As a guide, if you are carrying out a single project on one level then a half day will be sufficient. If your project involved more than one element such as a kitchen extension and a loft conversion or a double storey extension we would recommend that you take a full day. Any remaining hours that are not used during the initial visit can be held in credit for further services.

What happens during the initial visit?

During the initial visit your architect/designer will spend time asking you questions and finding out what you want to achieve. They will discuss the options that you have available along with the feasibility and implications of these options. If necessary they will then take measurements of your property and sketch out a plan of your property as it currently exists. Once this is completed your architect/designer is now in a position to draw up initial design sketches to help you visualize your design and provide input. These drawings will be yours to keep so that you can refer back to them at a later date. The initial visit is designed to be an interactive session so you will be heavily involved in the process providing information about your lifestyle, your ideas and your feedback on proposed solutions. By the end of the initial visit you should be much better informed and in a position to move forward with your project.

What are the next steps after the initial visit?

Your architect/designer will discuss recommended further services as laid out in the services menu before they leave you at the end of the visit. They will then send you a costed list of these and you can then select the services that you want you architect/designer to carry out for you. For example scheme level drawings or planning permission submissions. The menu is designed to be as flexible as possible allowing you to use your architect/designer as much or as little as you want. To find out more about our further services <click here>

Planning permission

What is planning permission?

For domestic properties, planning consent relates to changes in the appearance or use of buildings such as an extension to a house, or a conversion of a house into flats. Planning should not be confused with the building regulations that are entirely separate – you can find a description of these in the next section. Planning can be one of the main hurdles to clear when thinking about making changes to your home and needs to be given consideration from the start. It may be possible that your project can be done within permitted development – Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home will be able to advise you of this during your initial visit.

Will I automatically be given planning permission if someone else in my street has done the same renovation or extension?

A common misconception is that because other houses in the street have, for instance, roof extensions, this will automatically mean that yours will be allowed. This is not always the case as planning policy does change over time. Your architect/designer will be able to give you advice relating to current planning policy that will help develop the design solution.

What is permitted development?

For small extensions and alterations, your proposals may fall within your Permitted Development Rights which means that planning permission will not be necessary. There are a number of limits on height, volume (in cubic meters) etc. that your proposals need to be within for permitted development to apply. If your project is eligible for permitted development we would recommend that you apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development to confirm this. The application needs to be supported by suitable drawings and calculations and Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home can help you with this.

Are there different planning rules for a listed building?

Buildings of particular architectural interest are often officially Listed and thereby protected. Many residential buildings are listed Grade 2 which means that all alterations (not just those to the outside or original parts) have to be approved under Listed Building Consent. Making a Listed Building Consent application is similar to making a planning application – but with a few differences. The process may be handled by a conservation officer within your local planning department or might be referred to English Heritage and there is no application fee. As with standard planning permissions Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home has lots of experience in making listed building consent applications.

Are there different planning rules for a conservation area?

Living in a conservation area usually means that changes to the external appearance of your building will be a particularly sensitive issue. You may well need to complete an application for Conservation Area Consent as well as a Planning Application (and some times even when a Planning Application is not required). Again, it is advisable to check with your local planning department or ask Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home to do this for you.

What will I need in order to make a planning application?

For most Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home projects your design will need to be taken to the stage of scheme level drawings. Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home can help with the design, the drawings and even submit your planning application for you. As a guide it generally takes 8 weeks from submission of a planning application to a decision. Please note you will require a location plan (which Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home can source for a small charge) and a statutory application fee to accompany your application.

Will your architect/designer know my local council?

More than likely. That’s why we try to select an architect/designer who is based locally to you.

Building regulations

What are building regulations?

Not to be confused with planning, the building regulations are there to ensure that buildings are made to a minimum quality standard for such things as structure, fire escape, drainage, ventilation, insulation and so on. The regulations can often seem unreasonable, but they are all there for good reasons. Building regulations matters are usually handled by building control officers in the Building Control Department of your local authority but increasingly private licenced inspectors are an alterantive. Unlike planning, there is no committee and you should not have to endure a long wait for approvals.

How do I apply for Building Regulations’ Approval?

There are two ways to apply for approval under the building regulations: the Full Plans method or the Building Notice method.

Building Notice Method: Most people find that a Building Notice is the simplest and most appropriate for small alterations or extensions to domestic properties. You will generally not need very much in the way of specific drawings for this and your builder can look after the process on your behalf while undertaking the works. To do this the builder simply completes a Building Notice form and submits it to the Building Control Department – this has to be done at least 48 hours before work starts on site. Once again there is a fee to pay, check with your local authority. Once the work starts, the building control officer will visit the site and make arrangements with the builder to visit at specific points through the progress of the works to check that the works are up to the minimum standard that the regulations require. He/She may also request supplementary drawings and information. When the works are complete, you can ask the building control officer to give you a certificate to confirm that everything has been done to the required level.

Full Plans Method: The ‘full plans’ method of application is more involved as it requires the submission up-front of detailed drawings that show a great deal of information, such as the fire escape routes, ventilation capacities, for instance. The full plans method gives you much more certainty and peace of mind as all aspects of the building regulations are approved in principle in advance, avoiding the slightly more hand-to-mouth process of the building notice. Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home can produce the full plans for you, if you feel that this is the preferred route.

Party wall agreements

What is a party wall agreement?

It is very common with alterations to domestic buildings (even for detached houses) that action under the Party Wall legislation will be necessary. Works that effect a wall, fence or any part of your neighbour’s structure, within certain specified distances will require notification to adjoining owners in accordance with the party wall act 1996.

This notification can be a complicated procedure and can take a good deal of time and Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home are well placed to advise. We sometimes recommend that if you have a particularly complex issue with party wall legislation, you approach a ‘party wall surveyor’ who will be able to advise you and guide you through the process though in many instances Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home will be able to help you through the process directly.

Selecting and working with builder

1. What drawings will I need for my builder?

The scheme-level drawings will form the backbone of the information your builder will need. However you will need to go through the drawings with your builder and architect before works start to agree the appropriate level of detail. Many builders do not need full detail drawings in order to build standard building elements. If the design contains elements that are particularly complex or unusual, it is sensible to get Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home to prepare detailed drawings of these elements. If you want more things added to the drawings or any additional help we are here to help you through the process.

How do I select a builder?

When choosing a builder yourself, make sure that you can check the company out. A good starting point is to ask friends, neighbours or other homeowners who have recently had work done close to where you live, if there is anybody they can recommend. Once you have chosen some possible builders, contact them for a list of references and follow these up even if they came highly recommended. If you want help with this process your architect/designer will be able to handle this process for you and should know some potentially suitable local builders who they will have worked with before.

What sort of things should I be looking out for?

For large or complex projects, a standard form of building contract that requires a contract administrator is definitely the recommended route to follow. Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home can of course also perform this task for you.

For many smaller projects however, many people regard this and approach as rather over the top and simply resort to working things out directly with the builder. If you follow this route, the drawings that Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home can provide you with will help to define what it is the builder has agreed to build. Nonetheless, it is very important that before your builder starts work, you have a written agreement stating the work to be done, the price agreed and the time scale involved. There is a very simple standard form of contract agreement now available that has been specifically designed for such circumstances called ‘JCT Building Contract for a Home owner/Occupier’. It is easy to read and covers most of the important areas.

Some important things to remember:

  • hours of working: how many days a week, what time they start and finish
  • use of facilities & services: toilet facilities, water supply, electricity, telephone etc.
  • access and storage: agree where the builders can store their materials and how they should come in and out of the building, who holds keys etc.
  • regular meetings: it is good to agree to meet formally to discuss progress every week or fortnight.
  • foreman: agree whether you will have a full time foreman on your project from start to finish – this is generally a good thing but might make the price more expensive.
  • additions and extras: agree how any additions or changes that you might want after work has started would be agreed and priced.
  • over running: agree what happens if the work takes longer than the builder has indicated up front.
  • payment schedule: the best way is to agree a timetable of payments that is fixed to a timetable of works AS THEY ARE COMPLETED.

Costs

Can Architect Your Home – Interior Your Home tell me exactly how much my project is going to cost?

The cost of a building project is extremely difficult to predict particularly before it is fully designed. There is a myriad of factors that can affect the price including geographic location, size, scope and complexity of the work, amount of structural work involved and level of specification required to name just a few. Your architect/designer will be in a better position to give you an idea of costs once you have discussed what you would like to achieve and he/she has seen what is involved. To find out a ball park figure for your entire project go to our Cost Estimator.

Do you have any tips on how I can control my budget?

Agree all the details up front
The more details that you can tie down the better A set of detailed drawings will illustrate these decisions in a way that can be better quantified. This will leave less opportunity for unforeseen extra costs to creep in at a later date.

Your choice of fittings and finishes
the cost of a luxury fit out can be five or ten times the cost of a basic or budget fit out. Contrary to popular belief, the choice of fittings often is the most influential issue to affect the cost of a building project. Try not to change your mind as last minute design changes are often a sure fire way of losing control over your budget.

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