Embarking on a journey to expand and enhance your home through extensions and loft conversions can be an exciting yet intricate process. In Surrey, England, where historic charm meets modern living, securing planning permission is crucial. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the complexities of obtaining planning permission and meeting building control criteria for extensions and loft conversions in this picturesque county.
Understanding the Basics:
Before diving into the application process, it's essential to grasp the fundamental distinctions between planning permission and building control regulations. Planning permission focuses on the aesthetics and impact of your proposed changes on the surrounding area, ensuring they align with local planning policies. On the other hand, building control oversees the technical aspects, guaranteeing your project adheres to safety and construction standards.
Research Local Policies: Familiarise yourself with Surrey's local planning policies and guidelines. Each district within the county may have specific regulations, so understanding these nuances is crucial.
Engage with Local Authorities: Early engagement with the local planning authority and building control department can provide valuable insights. Pre-application advice sessions are often available to discuss your plans and receive feedback.
Determining Permitted Development Rights:
Extensions: In certain cases, you may be able to extend your home under permitted development rights, bypassing the need for planning permission. Understanding the limitations and conditions for permitted development is vital.
Loft Conversions: Loft conversions may also fall under permitted development, but restrictions exist. Familiarise yourself with the maximum volume allowances, roof alterations, and other relevant criteria.
Preparing Your Application:
Architectural Drawings: Engage a professional architect to create detailed and accurate architectural drawings of your proposed extension or loft conversion. These drawings should showcase the design, dimensions, and external appearance.
Supporting Documents: Alongside drawings, your application should include supporting documents, such as a Design and Access Statement, demonstrating how your project aligns with local policies and enhances the character of the area.
Navigating the Planning Process:
Submission: Submit your planning application through the local planning authority's online portal. Pay attention to required fees and ensure all necessary documents are included.
Public Consultation: Some applications trigger a public consultation process, during which neighbors and stakeholders may provide feedback. Addressing concerns proactively can contribute to a smoother approval process.
Building Control Compliance:
Technical Specifications: Simultaneously with the planning process, begin compiling technical specifications for building control. This includes structural plans, insulation details, and fire safety measures.
Building Control Application: Submit your building control application, detailing how your project meets structural and safety regulations. The local building control department will review these plans to ensure compliance.
The Decision Process:
Approval: If your planning application is successful, you will receive planning permission. Concurrently, building control will issue a Building Regulation Approval certificate if your plans comply with safety and construction standards.
Modifications and Appeals: In some cases, modifications may be requested by the planning authority. If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision.
Embarking on a journey to transform your home through extensions and loft conversions in Surrey involves careful consideration of planning permission and building control requirements. By navigating the intricate processes with diligence, engaging with local authorities, and ensuring compliance with regulations, you can turn your vision into a reality while preserving the unique character of Surrey's landscape.
Stages of when to expect a visit from Building Control
The timing of the first visit from building control can vary depending on local regulations and the nature of the construction project. In general, building control inspections typically occur at key stages of the construction process to ensure that the work complies with relevant building codes and regulations. Common stages for building control inspections may include:
Foundation Stage: An inspection may be carried out before pouring concrete to ensure that the foundation design and construction meet the required standards.
Damp Proof Course (DPC) Installation: Building control may inspect the installation of the DPC to prevent rising damp.
Structural Frame: Inspections at this stage ensure that the structural elements of the building, such as the frame and load-bearing walls, meet safety and design standards.
Roof Construction: Inspection of the roof structure and covering materials to verify compliance with regulations.
Drainage and Plumbing: Inspection of drainage and plumbing installations to ensure proper functionality and compliance with regulations.
Insulation and Ventilation: Checking insulation and ventilation installations to ensure energy efficiency and compliance with building codes.
Fire Safety Measures: Inspecting fire safety features, such as fire doors, fire-resistant materials, and escape routes.
Completion: A final inspection is typically conducted before the building is occupied to ensure that all work has been completed according to regulations.
Building Regs & Site Inspections
With both Building Regulations applications and building notices, building control will inspect the work to ensure compliance at particular stages. You have to notify the inspector when you have reached the particular stages, and give 24 hours’ notice for them to inspect the work.
Excavation of foundations
Damp proof course
Occupation prioer to completion
Within 5 days of occupation
Within 5 days of occupation
Should you neglect to notify the local authority upon reaching a specific stage, they have the authority to request that you open up the work for inspection at your own cost. Conversely, if their arrival occurs more than 24 hours after the issuance of notice, they are precluded from demanding the removal of the completed work.
After receiving approval, you are permitted to proceed to the subsequent stage. This holds particular significance for self-builders, given that the disbursement of stage payment mortgage funds is contingent upon obtaining approval.
Opting for the services of an approved inspector places the responsibility on them to scrutinise the plans and inspect your construction work. It is imperative that both you and the approved inspector jointly notify the local authority of your proposed building activities.
Upon completion of the project, the approved inspector is obligated to furnish the local authority with a final certificate affirming the conclusion of the work, its inspection, and its conformity with established regulations. For assistance in locating an approved inspector, please refer to the Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors (ACAI) website.
It's important to note that the specific stages and requirements for building control inspections can vary by location. Local building authorities or regulatory bodies often provide guidance on when inspections are required. Builders and contractors should coordinate with building control authorities to schedule inspections at the appropriate stages of construction.