Frequently asked questions

Why Sevenoaks Plans?

How can Sevenoaks Plans help with my project?

Working with Sevenoaks Plans is a very straightforward process. With over 20 years in the industry, we have a wealth of experience in design, construction and project management and can be with you every step of the way from initial ideas through planning to your finished home. We can oversee the design, assist with the approvals process, manage the build and keep track of your budget.

Consulting us at the earliest stage will allow us to gain a real feel for your needs so that together we can establish a clear brief and a realistic budget. This will help reduce the overall design costs and help minimise any potential problems early on.

See Our Service section for more information.

At Sevenoaks Plans we are committed to providing the best quality service, honestly priced. Our planning package allows you to see the full cost of the entire planning process with no hidden extras

Our costs are dependent on the extent of your development, but we will always be transparent about what they include and agree them with you. The cost of our planning package, which covers you from initial consultation to building regulations approval, start from £2500 dependant on the size of the project and any complications we foresee within the design. But the price is based on the size of the project and we do not charge a percentage based on the build cost we calculate the fees on the time the project will take us so we have no hidden fees.

We can also manage your build for an additional fee. 

Our initial consultation is a very interactive session, which gives us the opportunity to discuss your ideas for your development and want you want from it. We will ask you about about your lifestyle, your ideas, your likes and dislikes, how you use your home etc, as this will help us deliver a design the meets your expectations and needs. We also will discuss potential options, their feasibility and implications.

By the end of the initial visit, you should have the information you need to decide whether to move forward with your project.

Planning My Development

Following our initial consultation, we will work with you to create architectural drawings of your development.  We will then submit these on your behalf to the relevant local planning authority.  The local authority will review your plans (the time this take varies between authorities) and make a decision on whether to give permission.

When your architectural plans are approved, a structural engineer will be required to ensure full compliance with the current building regulations. A full set of building plans, sectional drawings and full specifications are then submitted to Building Control for approval. (Again the time this takes varies between local authorities/individual inspectors).

The building plans also enable you to obtain building quotes with the knowledge that the finished project will be fully compliant.

You may also need to consult a party wall surveyor regarding a party wall agreement.  We can advise you if this is the case.

Once you have planning permission, building control approval and party wall agreement (if needed), you are ready for your builders to start.

A range of professionals may need to be involved in your development including:

  • Architectural designer – to create your plans
  • Structural engineer – to developing structural drawings and calculations for building control
  • Party wall surveyor – if you need a party wall agreement
  • Builders – who should have all the trade professionals you will need for a successful build.

We can recommend a trusted group of talented people from builders, engineers to party wall surveyors.

This is dependent on the type of development you are planning, where you are based (different local authorities have different planning scales) and what additional permissions you may need e.g. party wall agreements.  Either we or your local authority’s website should be able to give you an idea of the timescales involved. (See below for links to local authorities in West Kent).

Getting my development approved

The type of permission you need is dependent on the development you are planning.  We will be able to advise you about this.

If you are a householder, you may be able to extend your home under Permitted Development rights without gaining planning permission. This varies by the type of house you have, your proximity to neighbours and the effect it may have on them. Using Permitted Development rights to extend your property does however limit the type of work you can do.

If you are planning to build something new, make a major change to your house e.g. an extension or to change the use of your building, you’ll probably need planning permission

You may also need building regulation approval, which ensure all work is done to the building standard.

Planning approval and Building regulation approval is usually valid for three years – both of which can be extended. We recommended that all approvals are obtained prior to work commencing at your property. 

You may also need to consult a party wall surveyor regarding a party wall agreement.  We can advise you if this is the case.

You will find more detailed information on the above on your local Council’s website

For domestic properties, planning consent or permission relates to changes in the appearance or use of buildings such as an extension to a house, or a conversion of a house into flats.  Building Regulations plans (building control) approval is required to administer the building standards - this covers the functional requirements of buildings to safeguard the health and safety of the people using them, energy conservation, access and convenience for people with disabilities.

Always check with your architect or local building control department before you begin a project as regulations may change.  As an overview, the Building Regulations 2010 cover the construction and extension of buildings.  You might also need building regulations approval for many alteration projects, including if you plan to:

  • replace fuse boxes and connected electrics
  • install a bathroom that will involve plumbing
  • change electrics near a bath or shower
  • put in a fixed air-conditioning system
  • replace windows and doors
  • replace roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs
  • install or replace a heating system
  • add extra radiators to a heating system

It’s a common misconception that because other houses in the street have, for instance, roof extensions, that yours will automatically be allowed. This is not always the case as planning policy does change over time. We will be able to give you advice relating to current planning policy that will affect your development.

If you're planning to do work to a domestic property with an adjoining wall to another property, then your project may well fall under the Party Wall Act.

Works that affect a wall, fence or any part of your neighbour's structure, within certain specified distances will require notification to adjoining owners in accordance with the Party Wall Act 1996. This notification can be complicated and can take a good deal of time. We recommend that if you might have an issue with Party Wall legislation, you approach a Party Wall Surveyor who will be able to advise you and guide you through the process.  We can recommend one of our trusted partners to help you.

Conservation Areas & Listed Buildings

Buildings of particular architectural interest are often officially Listed and thereby protected. Many residential buildings are listed Grade 2 which means that all alterations (not just those to the outside or original parts) have to be approved under Listed Building Consent. Making a Listed Building Consent application is similar to making a planning application - but with a few differences. The process may be handled by a conservation officer within your local planning department or might be referred to English Heritage and there is no application fee.

We have experience developing listed building and as with standard planning permissions we can help you with this. 

Living in a conservation area usually means that changes to the external appearance of your building will be a particularly sensitive issue.  Your house may also be designated as contributing to the area.  You will probably need to complete an application for conservation area consent. It is advisable to check with your local planning department or we can do this on your behalf.

We have experience delivering approved developments in conservation areas and would be happy to discuss the options with you.

Selecting a builder

The building plans will form the backbone of the information your builder will need. However, you will need to go through them with a recommended builder and architect before works start to agree the appropriate level of detail. Many builders will require a full detail drawing set in order to build standard building elements. If your design contains elements that are particularly complex or unusual, it is sensible to get us prepare detail drawings of these elements. If you want more things added to the drawings or any additional help we are here to help you through the process.

 

 

We can recommend our trusted partners to you and we're more than happy to arrange a meeting between you and a builder even before you've decided to work with us. 

When selecting a builder, always ask for recommendations - either from friends or relatives or from reliable sources such as the Which? Trusted Trader scheme.

Once you've made a short-list then contact them for references and always follow these up, even if the builder has come highly recommended. We are happy to assist you in this process if you wish.

Project Management

In our experience you don’t always need an independent Project Manager. As the principal designer we will be handing over the project to the principal contractor and will be checking that everything is running smoothly by communicating with the builder on a regular basis.

Working with recommended local builders we will be alerted to any issue (very rare), will be on site to discuss any required changes and will then liaise with our engineer. We are willing to cover these services. Fees will vary dependant on whether we have worked with the builder before.

We are more than happy to review quotations for you from various builders should you wish and we can supply details for alternative builders who we recommend.

Feasibility studies

If you have found somewhere you're considering buying but are unsure in it's current state that it will work for you and your family then we can help you make the right decision by conducting a feasibility study before you commit.  Among other things we will tell you whether your ideas are physically possible, financially feasible, would be likely to pass regulatory guidelines and of course we will advise how we see best for you to progress.  

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