OK, we’ll continue a little further with our talk on plans for your extension or building project. When it cones to building design, a good designer is someone who possesses the necessary skills of draughtsmanship and is familiar not only with the details of construction, but also with the problems and regulations relating to the work.
It is possible to make the mistake that somebody who designs hydroelectric dams in Zimbabwe for a living is going to be more than qualified to draw up a small extension to your house. It is more the case though that a local ‘plan draughtsman’ who has done hundreds of other kitchen extensions in your area and is conversant with local planning policies, is more qualified for the job at hand. Domestic building work is a field of its own, so find somebody who works in it.
Most designers offer a free consultation period when they visit your house to discuss with you the feasibility of extending it. When making this appointment, ask them to bring along some samples of extension plans drawn for previous clients. You should always view the standard of their work before agreeing the terms of their engagement.
If you are happy that the plans satisfy all of your criteria, then you may be very well in the hands of a professional. Even so though, it is still worth comparing the drawings of several designers before appointing one. You may be astonished to see just how different the quality of plans can be, and it will give you a good idea of the wide variety of drawing standards around.
Make sure you ask your prospective designer if their price includes all structural calculations or details that may be required by building control. They may reply that calculations may not be needed, but if your scheme involves the forming of widening of a structural opening through to the extension, it is likely that a beam will be needed over the opening and calculations will need to be required to prove its adequacy.
This would apply whether it was a timber or steel beam, and even perhaps if it was an existing lintel retained, but subjected to increased loads. Calculations may be an expensive ‘extra’ in the design process, since the designer may have to engage the services of a structural engineer on your behalf, and you will need to know this in advance.
Agree a fixed fee before your designer starts putting pen to paper and establish whether this fee includes plans for planning consent and building regulations or just one or the other.
Tomorrow we will talk a little about the planning submission process.