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Why starting early is the key to a successful home building project

23rd September 2021

We are in turbulent times where construction demand is high, but material and labour are in short supply, this has the effect of driving up the cost of construction work, putting many people off embarking on their project. In this article we discuss why this is shouldn’t be the case and why you should consider planning your project as soon as possible.

Time for design and regulatory hoops.

Many homeowners are surprised when they realise the time it can take to progress a project through the various stages of design and regulations to get a project off the ground. First you need to allow time for a project to start and time to refine your initial designs for planning, this is not a process that should be rushed but you should carefully consider what you require and brief your architect on what is needed for it to be a successful project.

Many of our competitors have a lead in time of over 3 Months just to start a project, fortunately most projects can get started at WBC within 2 weeks of appointment due to our capacity of over 30 members of staff. So we can help get you going as soon as possible.

If your project involves ecological or conservation issues this can also really slow the process up. Mainly due to the fact that particular types of ecological reports can only be carried at certain times of the year. When it comes to sensitive buildings such as listed buildings its advisable to carry out pre application advice, unfortunately this process seems to have been elongated by many of the councils due to Covid. In some instances, as the timing process is not as rigorously enforced as full planning applications pre app advice has taken 9 months for simple planning matters!

Typically, the initial stage of a simple project will take at least 3-4 Months to gain planning approval. Once this is complete further design refinement by your architect and technical plans need to be drawn to get Building Regulations approval. Engineering calculations produced by the structural engineer and further design detailing may then need to be applied to these drawings including refinement of the specification by the architect. Further to this on many projects party wall surveyors may need to consider party wall matters, Water Authority consent or planning conditions may need to be dealt with further lengthening the timescales involved.

These processes could easily add a minimum of 3-4 months to the project. It is only usually once the design is relatively completed that contractors will quote. If you are considering taking on a project it is therefore strongly advised to get the process moving forward with an architecture company as soon possible.

How long do I have to start after I get planning?

Usually, you have three years to start the work once planning is granted, however there is no limit on the time to completion. This means many people take the opportunity to solidify the planning permission by installing footings and then waiting to progress the final stages of the project. One consideration you should make is if your project will involve a party wall award they are only valid for 1 year from signing. This means if you progress this area of the work you may wish to complete any notifiable work within these timescales to avoid additional professional fees.

Increasing technical reports for planning & building regulations

In our 18 years of practice, we have seen the slow but ever enhancing amount of additional professional advisors and reports for both planning and building regulations approvals. This has a direct impact on your feasibility costs. Such an example is the introduction of sustainability reports, energy calculations and heritage statements for conservation areas in Bristol City Council. The sooner you can secure permission to build the less you are likely to have to pay long term to jump through the regulatory hoops.

Time to get contractors

When the market is as busy as it is today contractors are often refusing to quote, due to already having a full schedule. Some contractors will have over a years’ worth of projects lined up ahead of them. The quicker you can entice them to work with you with a set of detailed plans the sooner you will be able to book in for the future and find the right contractor to complete the work for you. It all starts with early planning.

Cost of materials

Whilst the cost of materials is currently very high indications from across the pond is that material price rises that mirrored those in the UK have either slowed or started to return to near pre covid levels. Once the disruption from Covid, Brexit and the Panama crisis eases we are expecting to see a lowering of prices as market forces kick in to stabilise the rocking material costs. By starting the process now, you will be able to better monitor the situation and capitalise on hopefully lower future construction costs.

If you are thinking of carrying out a project in the future feel free to contact Western Building Consultants today to discuss your options and arrange a free no obligation quotation to get your project planned.

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