Friday, 26 February 2021

How can you work together with the planning team? 

We might think that the planning team is there to cause us problems or to put a stop to our dream build but that is far from the truth. They are there to ensure that builds are kept to a required standard and to make sure they fit in with our landscape. 

What does our planning system do?

We are lucky to have a lot of green spaces in the UK and we would be fools to use them all up with buildings that don’t ‘fit’ or that aren’t going to be suitable in the long-term. The planning system is there to protect our countryside and to ensure that positive change is made. Imagine the carnage if there was a free for all; what would our landscape look like now?

How can the planning system help you?

You wouldn’t be the first to dread submitting plans to the planning office, especially if this is your first time. You await the calls, and finally the decision, only to be told that your application has been denied. What you need to understand is that your application has been denied for a reason; whether you agree with that decision or not. You could go in all guns blazing but that really isn’t going to get you anywhere. Essentially if the planning office says no, you can appeal but that can take time and valuable resources only to be in exactly the same position in the end. Or, you could be one of the lucky ones and the decision could be overturned, but, really, do you need or want to go through all that? 

The best and most productive way is to ensure that you work together with the planning office. You can have talks with a planning officer and discuss plans before submitting an application. Talk with your architect, who will usually have a close relationship with the planning office, obviously and understandably. Don’t be fixated on something if someone tells you that it won’t get through. Discuss the alternatives; you might even find that you prefer the new edition. Remember, they are people but these aren’t necessarily their opinions, they are led by regulations themselves. If your design doesn’t fit in with their regulations, even if they love it, they can’t pass it. 

Can I build without Planning permission? 

No, you need to get planning permission at least to build a house. You might be able to complete an extension/conversion under permitted development rights. These are a set of rules that allow certain types of builds to be undertaken without permission. These hold their own set of rules that you have to adhere to. If you want more information on what you can and can’t do then you can once again talk to your local planning office; see, I told you they’re helpful! 

What happens if you build without permission?

If you undertake works that require permission, but don’t get it, then you will be in a planning breach and you will be required to submit a retrospective application. If this application isn’t granted you could potentially have a notice from enforcement. This could mean you will have to take down parts or even all of your build. It really is easier to just get the permission to start with. 

So, there you have it, why the planning system is good for all of us and really, if we work as a team it is a much easier process.  

Thursday, 18 February 2021


Should you extend or move? The big question!

We often daydream about extending our homes, and with ever-changing situations, we need our homes to be able to adapt to us and our lifestyle. The big question that we all ask ourselves, is should we actually move or should we extend what we have got?

Before making any decisions, you have to work out your budget. More often than not you’ll find that extending is actually the cheaper option, in the short term at least. What you must do is ask yourself whether an extension will suit your needs for the long-term, or is it a sticking plaster solution. You will need an extension to do more than just buy you time. 

On the other hand, you have to consider the costs associated with moving, the costs people don’t always factor in, such as a solicitor’s bill, removal vans, and time off work to be present to organise everything. 

So, should you move or extend?

There is a certain amount you can do to your home before you require planning permission. It is always best to seek the advice from your local Planning Office. This really could be a good way to add value to your home in the most cost-effective way. There will obviously still be a certain amount of disruption but, assuming you present your plans clearly, it should be a smooth-running project. 

Make a list of what it is you’re trying to achieve; what is it you want from your home? Be realistic, don’t start fantasising about the things you’d like to have, such as a 10ft swimming pool, if your budget won’t stretch. Remember to compare what you could get if you moved with what you could get if you extended with your budget firmly in mind. Write down what the important factors are such as, cost, room, disruption, locality, time etc. Decide what it is that you need from your home and not just for now. If you’re going to extend you need to be able to stay put for a while to ensure you get your money back. You don’t want to be in the position where you have extended and then realise that actually, you still don’t have enough room after all. 

If you’re limited with a budget get some expert advice from an architect from the out-set. An architect will be able to get the most out of your space in accordance with your budget. They have the experience and expertise and will be able to implement ideas into your design. 

Essentially, there is no right or wrong way. If you have your heart set on moving, do just that. If you really are just looking for a bit more space, but you love your home, have a look at what an extension could do for you. Whatever you decide, make sure your budget can take it. 

Friday, 12 February 2021

How are laser scanners changing construction?

I have said this many times and I will continue to say it, we are very lucky to be working in an industry which is ever-changing. It keeps us on our toes and it constantly makes us re-evaluate the way we build. 

We live in a society where technology is advancing and luckily our industry is heaving with new ideas, new products and new systems.

Laser scanners aren’t necessarily new to us, but they are relatively new to the construction industry, in the grand scheme of things. 3D laser scanners are more often than not considered to be a 'treat' to have on site. Not everyone has one, but, when they are used, their true potential shines through.

A laser scanner, on site, is used to capture data. This data is detailed and will cover every section of the build, down to the last inch. The data can be used in many ways, but the most important factor here is that no matter what, a detailed record of an object or space will be kept on record. With technology, assuming it is being used correctly, there isn’t room for error so you can trust the figures you receive. Unfortunately, with humans, errors can be made. Humans will also take a lot longer to retrieve the same figures so this technology can cut down on time quite significantly; time equals money. 

So, how are laser scanners actually used in construction?

- When you’re designing your build, you might find it a lot easier to use a laser scanner. It can help you to define the smaller details. 

- Data from the laser scanners can be shared easily. You can use a laser scanner at any point of your project, more than once, to keep up-to-date records. This will also help reduce any errors and, in addition, if you do encounter any problems, you will be able to work with the system to find out ways to overcome them. 

- Laser scanners are exceptionally good for renovations and retrofits. They help to provide data which is very useful on these projects. 

- Laser scanners improve quality and accuracy as well as provide instant information. 

- Laser scanners will cut costs, partly because the system is much faster than conventional methods, and partly because it will take less man power to complete the same job. 

These are just some points to show where laser scanners can be helpful and how they are used on a construction site. This technology has been around for a while, but it is only just starting to become a staple on site. These scanners are not cheap, so you do need to weigh up your options and work out what is most suited for your site. You will also need to practice with these, and by practice, I don’t just mean know how they work, but get used to them working. 

If you don’t know whether to invest in a laser scanner, why don’t you try hiring one? This will give you a chance to see if it is a good investment for your company. 

Whatever you decide, there isn’t a one size fits all, so take your time and think about your options. Ask for advice. There are plenty of people out there, who are, perhaps, in the same situation. 

Thursday, 4 February 2021


How difficult is it to build eco?

Building an energy efficient home is something that most people aspire to these days, if for no other reason than they cost less to run. That and the fact it is kinder to our planet and we each need and want to do our bit. We’re preparing for the generations to come, providing them with a more sustainable future. 

So, is it hard to build an energy efficient home? 

The difference here is experience. If you haven’t ever built an eco construction then you will need to do your research. As with all construction the planning stage is vital and by far one of the most important stages. Every aspect of your build will contribute to its level of ‘eco’. For example, the materials that you use, the design of your build and even the way that it faces. Every last detail is important. 

I realise this makes it sound stressful but what you have to remember is that it is no different to any other build; you just might opt for a different method or design. If you get the help from an energy assessor, architect or engineer (or even all three) at the earliest possible stage then your build can run like clockwork; trust in the process.

Know your materials 

You obviously need to know exactly what it is that you want but you also need to know how best to implement it. This is where the materials come into play. What works, what doesn’t and what is most suited for your design. Think about where your materials are sourced from, how are they manufactured, how will you get them to the site. There are so many questions that need answering which is why it is always best to have someone in the ‘know’ on your side; take the pressure off and enjoy the ride. 

Know your systems 

As with the materials, you need to know and understand the different systems, heating, ventilation, electricity etc. What systems will work best for your build? What systems will provide you with the best energy efficiency? Again, speak to someone who knows all about this, who has the knowledge and experience and who will be able to help you get the best from your build. 

What are some of the basic elements that make up an energy efficient build?

- Water consumption

- Energy efficiency 

- Renewable energy 

- Air quality (indoor)

- Air tightness

- Ventilation 

- Materials

- Design 

There are many more aspects to ‘building green’ but these are a few to get you thinking. So, to answer the earlier question “How difficult is it to build green?” well actually, with a little bit of guidance it really isn’t difficult at all.  We need to ensure construction is sustainable, for both the planet and for the future generations. We are lucky to be able to work in an ever-changing industry; we just have to learn to be able to change with it. 

Green construction is the future; lets embrace it together. 

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