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| Planning Permission Advice | Building Regulations Approval | Why use an architect? | Removing the mystery of Architects | How much does it cost for an Architect? | How to find the best architect for the job | Appointing an architect |

Planning Permissions?

Planning and local Authority Appeals can often be very complex issues and may be subject to permitted development conditions.

Permitted development may be granted for a dwelling that has not been previously extended prior to 1948. The limit of the extension for a terrace property is 50m and for a semi-detached or detached it is 70m. The extension should not be more than 4m in height within 2m of the boundary. In some cases permitted development rights can be withdrawn by the planning department.

Q. Do I need planning approval for: a rear single storey extension?
A. Normally no if within the permitted development conditions.

Q. Do I need planning approval for: a double storey extension?
A. Yes

Q. Do I need planning approval for: a loft conversion without a dormer window?
A. Normally no if within permitted development conditions.

Q. Do I need planning approval for: a loft conversion facing the highway?
A. Normally yes.

Q. Do I need planning approval for: a loft conversion with a dormer facing the garden?
A. Normally no if within permitted development conditions.

Q. Do I need planning approval for: a shed in the rear garden?
A. Normally no if it covers less than 50% of the garden area.

Q. Do I need planning approval for: a garage?
A. It will depend on size and position. Check with us..

Q. Do I need planning approval for: a new access drive to the highway?
A. Yes

Q. Do I need planning approval for: gates, walls or fences?
A. Normally no if less than 1m high by the highway and 2m high elsewhere. Check with us first.

Q. Do I need planning approval for: a conservatory?
A. Normally no if within permitted development conditions.

You can usually do the work shown without getting planning permission but there are exceptions - check first.

Please note that other consents may be required under the building regulations or if your house is a listed building or in a conservation area. Occasionally more restrictive rules are applied to individual properties by special planning conditions so check first.


Building Regulations

The buildings and works shown below do not require a Building Regulations submission (but may require Planning Permission) - check first.

Please note that other consents may be required under the building regulations or if your house is a listed building or in a conservation area. Occasionally more restrictive rules are applied to individual properties by special planning conditions so check first.



If you intend to extend or alter your home or business premises, if you care about quality and value for money, then it makes sense to consult a professional who shares your concerns. An architect will understand your hopes and anxieties, and will help you translate your vision into reality. To any building or development project, no matter how small, he or she will bring three essential qualities:


Whether you are looking for tradition or innovation, boldness or understatement, an architect can lift your project out of the ordinary. Anyone can alter a building. It takes an expert to do it with flair, imagination and style.

Value for money

An architect can find the extra light and space you didn't know you had, suggest materials you hadn't thought of, make sure you find the right builder at the right price.

Freedom from worry
Architects are construction professionals with knowledge of the industry and its organisation, working methods and standards. An architect can advise and guide you through the complex web of rules, regulations and contractual obligations connected with planning and building. Your architect can also monitor the construction work through to completion. All RIBA registered practices are required to carry professional indemnity insurance.



There is a misplaced sense of mystique about what architects do - a fear even, that they will impose their own tastes at the expense of your own. Nothing could be further from the truth. Step by step, by consultation and agreement, your architect will lead you through the entire process from the first germ of an idea to the finished building.

The initial meeting

Architects' professional training and experience means that they can interpret and respond to any realistic brief they are given. At your initial meeting you will discuss your intentions and ideas. Your architect will listen carefully to what you have to say, and will take and develop a brief which covers not only design aesthetics but also the function of the building, running costs, budget and timing. Only after you have seen and approved initial sketches will the ideas be translated into detailed designs. At an early stage your architect can help you define a range of costs for your project. Your architect can also help you find and brief other consultants who may be needed - a structural engineer or a quantity surveyor, for example.

The planning process

An important part of an architect's service is to advise you on statutory controls and procedures which might apply to your project. As a client or building owner, you are obliged to comply with legislation concerning town and country planning, Building Regulations, health and safety in design and construction and, where relevant, party walls. These are all matters on which your architect can help and advise. The architect will also deal with the various authorities on your behalf, which can often be time- consuming and stressful.

Preparing to build

With planning approval in place, your architect will prepare working drawings with technical specifications against which a number of builders can estimate costs and timings. When you have discussed the tenders and chosen a builder, your architect will recommend a form of building contract appropriate for your project.

Work in progress
Your architect can monitor the builder's work against the contract agreement, particularly in terms of meeting the standards required, finishing by the completion date and not exceeding the contract figure without authority.




You can select all or part of an architect's service. If you want only an hour's general advice then that is all you will pay for. If you need just the detailed drawings, or want the scheme to be guided to the planning permission stage and no further, then that is fine too. The RIBA has standard appointment documents from which you can select the precise services you need.

Can an architect save you money?

Yes. As part of the full professional service your architect will explore the most efficient use of space, specify the most appropriate materials and finishes, be sensitive to environmental or other factors important to you, look for economy in operational and maintenance costs and consider such matters as a building's life cycle costs and potential for changes of use. The initial outlay for a building project often seems formidable but good design and planning can bring considerable benefits and added value in the long term.

Working out the bill

There is no fixed scale but, depending on the nature of the scheme, architectural fees for the full service should come to between 8% and 15% of the total building cost. For a drawings only service some architects will charge by the hour. A simple building which requires less attention to detail will usually attract a smaller percentage than a building for residential use.




Choose an architect whose previous work you like. Listen to recommendations from friends and neighbours. Ask to see a portfolio of work, or to visit finished buildings. Above all talk to your intended architect. It is important to ensure that you are compatible, that your architect listens to what you say and that you respect each other's views. He or she must convince you both of their creativity and their ability to get things done.

If you would like some help in identifying appropriate architects for your project, the RIBA Clients' Advisory Service (CAS) can advise you.

CAS operates an extensive computerised database on all RIBA registered practices. Detailed practice information is held in the CAS office in London. In addition the regional offices of the RIBA (listed below) can supply outline information on all locally registered practices that is adequate and appropriate for most small works and domestic projects. The information held in the regions includes:

  • A practice profile
  • Information on past projects undertaken by the practice
  • Sectors within which the practice has worked
  • The range of services offered by the practice

The RIBA regional offices offer a nomination service tailor-made for all local domestic and small works projects. A shortlist of architectural practices with a variety of skills and expertise which meet the client's project requirements is drawn from the database. The client receives a basic profile of each practice which includes a list of the services offered by that practice and an indication of their areas of expertise, along with the contact name and address and other basic practice data. This unique service is available free of charge to anyone contemplating a building project.

Our RIBA Local Regional Offices

School of Architecture
University of Plymouth
161 Notte Street

Tel: 01752 265921 / 265927 Fax: 01752 663747

Birmingham & Midlands Institute
Margaret Street
BirminghamB3 3SP
Tel: 0121 233 2321 Fax: 0121 233 4946




A good working relationship between architect and client is crucial to the success of a project and should be firmly secured by an agreement that clearly defines services, costs and procedures. The RIBA Code of Professional Conduct requires architects to define and record the terms of any agreement they enter into to provide professional services.

Small Works (SW/96)

The RIBA publishes a standard form of agreement, entitled Small Works (SW/96), designed for use on projects where the cost of the building work is not expected to exceed 100,000. This consists of a short menu of services and a sheet of conditions relevant to the appointment. The accompanying booklet of guidance; Architect's Services: Small Works answers some of the questions first time clients may ask and includes indicative fees scales for small works projects. Both are available from RIBA Bookshops or by mail order from RIBA Publications.



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