Once the plans have been completed you then have to send them into the council to make sure they are in line with the correct building code standards. Someone from the council may also schedule an on-site inspection once building work starts. This, of course, is in your best interest because when it comes to selling the property, later on, you’ll be able to show the prospective buyer that everything has been done properly.
Being able to show that a building has had a full inspection will make it that much easier to sell in the future as buyers will be reassured in knowing that the property is structurally sound.
Loft conversions almost always fall under permitted development but there are minor exceptions to this rule. If the property is a listed building then you will need to contact your local planning authority and apply for planning permission. If your property sits within a conservation area, again you will need to go through the full planning application process.
Also, it’s worth noting that if you live in a maisonette planning permission must be sought as well, simply because anything you do can significantly affect the other party in the overall property.
But let us assume that the project you are planning can be done under permitted development and you have already been through the process of contacting an architect.
What is the next step?
Everyone believes that this is the best time to start getting quotes and to be fair there is nothing wrong with this but if you want an accurate quote and you want everybody to be quoting for the same thing it’s more advisable to approach potential builders once you have had the plans made.
The reasons for this are three-fold. For starters, it can take up to eight weeks to have your plans passed by the council, so by the time you’ve got permission to go ahead with the project it could be over be two months since the last quote. People also have the best intentions of starting work as soon as possible but end up having to deal with other issues which put further delays on the project getting underway.
These two problems make the quotes useless because they end up being out of date due to the changing running costs of many builders. For example, the price of materials can alter significantly from one month to the next. New building regulations requiring builders to follow certain practices can equally affect the price.
The third problem is when you think that your ideas are fine and you don’t see any issues. But you soon realise differently after the architect has cast his educated eye over the project and taken into account all the building regulations you must abide by. Once that’s all done you may end up with a plan which is different to the one you initially got a quote for and again this makes the quote null and void.
You should also be aware that taking on a project such as a loft conversion or a kitchen extension carries with it some possible short-term headaches to consider.
You have to think about how long the project is going to take from start to finish. It’s all well and good brushing off the fact that it will take 10 to 12 weeks to complete but having workmen moving things around and causing a general mess can get rather frustrating.
When the builders leave the house at the end of the day will they tidy up as much as possible or just leave tools and equipment scattered around?
What happens if something goes wrong along the way and ends up costing more than was originally estimated for?
What if the process lasts twenty weeks instead of ten. How much aggravation will you have in your life if that happens?
These points are often overlooked because people only have the result in mind and don’t stop to think about these issues.
Now assuming you have taken all this on board and have gone through the correct process of getting the plans completed first, how do you then choose the right builder?
Are you going to make the decision based solely on price? Or are you going to make this decision based on the quality of work?
Price is always a contributing factor and people often make the mistake of just picking the lowest quote to save money, but at what cost. A lot of the time a lower price comes with some downsides like the ones mentioned so just keep this in mind. The quality of work isn’t just about the construction itself but the overall experience.
To give you an example take the services of two separate airlines. One airline offers a no-frills service with no luxuries whatsoever but at rock bottom prices while the second airline costs a lot more but with it, you get lots of little extras.
A lot of people choose the first airline based solely on price and are willing to put up with minimal service and any unforeseen problems. On the other hand, many always pick the second airline even though it may cost twice as much, for the simple fact that they love the overall added service they get.
So the choice is yours but if I was living in say, north London and picked out a series of qualified builders for loft conversions North London, I would certainly make sure to factor in not just their examples of recent high-quality work but also how organized they are, what their policies are with problems that pop up mid-way through a project and other aspects which contribute to the overall experience.
Just do some research and plan before you go getting any quotes and by doing so you’ll be in a much better position to assess which builder to go for and ask the questions that matter.