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FAQs

Q?

What is an Architect?

A.

At a very basic level an Architect is someone who plans, designs, and oversees the construction of buildings.

Under UK law, anyone who describes themselves as an architect and is involved in designing or constructing buildings, must be properly trained and qualified, and registered with the Architects Registration Body.

Q?

Why should I use an Architect?

A.

An architect will help you achieve your aspirations and guide you through the design, planning and construction process. They will bring value for money and peace of mind, handling the paperwork and keeping the project on track.

The insight and creative skills of an architect can deliver value well in excess of the fees they charge.

Choosing an accredited RIBA Chartered Practice will give you peace of mind. They comply with strict criteria covering insurance, health and safety and quality management systems.

Before you choose an architect, you might want to think about:

  • getting an architect who specialises in the type of work you are thinking of doing;
  • whether you want an architect from a small or large practice; and
  • whether you want an architect with a modern approach to design, or one who is more traditional.

Q?

How much does it cost to use an Architect?

A.

To be honest there is no 'standard' fee as each project is unique. We will come and see you for about an hour (free of charge) to discuss your project and your requirements. This allows us to understand how complex your project is and how much of our time will be required (time and experience being our primary commodities). We will then provide you with a written quotation and our terms of engagement.

Cost is often a very important factor to consider when choosing an architect. However, it is worth remembering that the cheapest quote may not always be the best value for money.

Q?

What is the difference between Planning and Building Regulations?

A.

In short Planning is about whether you are allowed to do what you want to do whilst Building Regulations is about how you go about doing what you want to do! Most projects will require both Planning and Building Regulations approval but some smaller projects (or those that don't affect the appearance or use of a building) may only require Building Regulations approval.

Q?

Do I need Planning Approval?

A.

Some smaller projects and some projects that do not affect the external appearance or the use of a building may not require Planning Permission but you should always check with the Local Planning Authority or a Chartered Architect.

Some projects are considered to be 'Permitted Development' and further information on this can be found on the Planning Portal. If your project is Permitted Development we recommend that you apply to your Local Planning Authority for a Lawful Development Certificate which will confirm this and ensure that, when you come to sell your property, there is written confirmation.

Q?

How long will it take to get Planning Permission?

A.

The application process for most Planning Application is 8 weeks long but some applications can take longer to decide, especially if it has to go before a Planning Committee. In addition to this period of time you should factor in the time for us to agree a design with you and compile the application itself this will vary from project to project and we will try to agree a programme with you when we are initially appointed.

Q?

How long will it take to get Building Regulations Approval?

A.

Most Building Regulations Applications that we submit are approved within 5 weeks although more complex projects can take longer.

We partner with Harlow Council which means that, regardless of the location of the project, all our submissions are checked for compliance by Harlow's Building Control Officers who we have developed a good relationship with. Site inspections will still be carried out by your local Building Control Authority.

Q?

What is the Party Wall Act?

A.

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 came into force on 1 July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales and provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. The Act applies to commercial and domestic properties alike.

A Party Wall separates the buildings of two different owners. The wall may stand astride the boundary or be entirely on one owner's land.

The Act also applies to "party fence walls" which are not part of a building but stand astride the boundary line between lands of different owners and are used to separate those lands. This would include a garden wall but, despite the name, excludes wooden fences, or fences with concrete posts. For the sake of sanity we shall refer to these as if they were Party Walls.

The Party Wall Act will apply to your project if you are:

  • carrying out work which will have an impact on the Party Wall or create a new Party Wall;
  • excavating within 3m of a Party Wall to a level below that of the neighbour's foundations;
  • excavating within 6m of a Party Wall to a level below that is deeper than a line drawn (in section) at 45degrees from the bottom of your neighbour's foundations;
  • building a new boundary wall, even if it is sat wholly on your land.

Q?

What is Covenant Approval?

A.

Some properties, such as ex-council houses and recent new build houses, will have restrictive covenants attached to the deeds which require you to seek the original owner's approval for any alterations of extensions.

This is particularly common in Harlow where the council housing stock was transferred to Harlow District Council from the New Towns Commission. The process of discharging covenants is normally pretty straight forward and would happen around the same time as applying for Planning Permission.

Most applications will involve a fee being paid to the beneficiary of the covenant.