FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Chartered Institute of
Architectural Technologists

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why are good quality, accurate plans so important?

Think of the building plans as the 'instructions manual' for your building work. Clear plans will show you exactly what your finished project will look like and how it will work for you. You are able to ensure that you will be getting exactly what you expected. You will be able to see instantly the effect of any changes you want to make before the builder starts - much cheaper than getting them to move a wall or reposition a doorway after it is built. Precise, detailed plans enable your builder to give you accurate estimates for your work without having to build-in allowances for items that are unclear on the plans, or charging you extra later on for having to resolve difficult details. If the Planning and Building Control officers can read the plans easily it can only help to smooth the process of obtaining the necessary approvals. Investing in good plans at the start can save you money and help to avoid frustration later on.

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2. What is a Chartered Architectural Technologist?

A Chartered Architectural Technologist must be a full Member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) and is bound by a very strict Code of Conduct. We are able to analyse and evaluate building design and produce design solutions, through detailing, and by specifying materials and components to the agreed brief in terms of time, cost and quality.

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3. What is the difference between a Chartered Architectural Technologist and an architect?

Definition of a Chartered Architectural Technologist MCIAT: Chartered Architectural Technologists provide architectural design services and solutions. They are specialists in the science of architecture, building design and construction. They are professionals, adhering to a Code of Conduct and are required to obtain and maintain Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) if providing services direct to clients.

Definition of an architect by RIBA:Architectural education and training focuses on the integration and synthesis of all aspects of design and construction in response to a client's brief, both for individual buildings, groups of buildings and spaces in between. A person described as an architect must, by law be registered with the Architects' Registration Board.

In practice the two disciplines cross over and can seem quite similar. Basically architects are concerned with the art of building design and Architectural Technologists with the science of building design.

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4. What is planning permission and how do I know whether my project needs it?

Planning permission is granted by your Local Authority. The decision to grant or refuse permission will be based on the Planning Department's view as to whether the proposed development will sit comfortably within its environment. They will consider its relationship to adjoining and adjacent properties, the streetscene, the impact on its neighbours, and its design - all with regard to the Local Authority's policies and guidelines. Some small extensions and alterations may be exempt from needing planning permission. The rules for determining this can be quite complex and it is vital that no building work is started until planning permission is granted or you are certain that it is not needed. We will advise you whether Planning Permission is needed for your project and give an honest opinion of the likelihood of permission being granted.

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5. What are Building Regulations?

If you intend to put up a new building in England or Wales, or extend or alter an existing building, or put an existing building to a different use, the Building Regulations will probably apply. The main purpose of the Regulations is to ensure the health and safety of people in or around buildings. They are also concerned with energy conservation and for making buildings more convenient and accessible for all people. If the Regulations apply, your building work needs to be checked for compliance with the Building Regulations, and the work supervised, either by a Local Authority Building Control or an Approved Inspector.

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6. Do I need any other permissions?

Achieving Planning Consent and Building Regulations approval does not necessarily mean that you have a legal right to carry out your building work. There may be covenants or easements restricting development on your site; if you are unsure you should check the deeds to your property or seek legal advice. All new buildings should be entirely on property that you own or control; you are responsible for checking exactly where your boundaries are and that you do not encroach onto neighbours land without their permission. If you are building over, or near to, a public sewer you will probably need to seek the consent of the owners of the sewer by entering into a 'Building Over Sewer' agreement. The Party Wall etc Act 1996 may also apply; this is not a permission as such, but is a means of coming to an agreement with your neighbours when building on or near boundaries or carrying out work on party walls.

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7. How long does the design process take?

There is a statutory eight-week period for the Local Authority to issue a Planning Decision. Building Regulations approval can also take up to 8 weeks but often takes rather less time than this. From carrying out our site survey to producing plans for a house extension usually takes 2-4 weeks. Typically, if your extension requires Planning Permission, you should expect it to take somewhere between 3 and 4 months from us surveying your property to you being ready to build, and slightly less than this if Planning Permission is not required.

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8. Do I need someone to supervise my building work?

Many home extensions do not need a separate project manager as long a competent, professional builder is employed. The work will be checked periodically by the Building Inspector to ensure that the construction is being carried out in accordance with the plans and that it conforms to Building Regulations. Dilworth Design can offer a Project Management Service for clients who would prefer this option and for those undertaking larger schemes. This service could be in the form of administering the works under a formal contract, or a less formal approach of site visits at appropriate intervals. Whichever arrangement you choose for administering the project, the key is to make sure you employ a good, reputable builder.

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9. How do I find a good builder?

The simple answer is 'ask'! Do you have any friends, family or neighbours that have had building work done? Try always to go for builders who are recommended rather than just from advertisements. Ask them for references and follow them up. When following up references ask whether they turned up every day? Did they keep a tidy site? Did they keep services on and minimise disruptions? Were they approachable and happy to discuss any concerns or queries? Did they charge for any unexpected extras? Dilworth Design may be able to suggest builders for your specific project, but it is important that you ask the right questions and find the builder that is right for you. Only when you are happy that you have a short list of builders that you trust should you start to consider price. The best builders will almost certainly not be the cheapest, but when you are talking about doing work on possibly your biggest investment you should not be cutting corners!

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10. How much will the plans cost me?

This will depend on the size and complexity of your project. Once we know the full scope of the proposed scheme we will provide you with a written quotation for our work. We are very clear with our pricing and there are no hidden extras. Our fees are based on the amount of time needed to carry out the work set against an hourly rate. The fees are not based on a percentage of the building costs or any other variables. The quotation will also inform you of the likely Planning Application and Building Regulations fees.

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11. Do you charge for initial advice?

You can contact us for free initial advice by either email or telephone, and based on the information you provide we will endeavour to advise you on the practicalities of your proposals, and the probability of achieving Planning and Building Regulations consent. We will also advise you of any costs for visiting your property to discuss your ideas in more detail. Following our visit we will provide you with a written quotation for our work for you to consider. The CIAT code of conduct restricts us from charging for work that has not been quoted for and agreed.

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12. I know the importance of good plans, so what should I ask before engaging someone to draw them?

Good question! You need to know that they are competent, experienced and professional. Do they belong to a professional organisation? Do they carry Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)? Can they give references and show samples of their work? How do they calculate their fees? Will they provide a written, fixed-price quotation? Will they provide fully specified working drawings or just planning drawings? Are structural calculations included? What will it cost if you don't like the design or change your mind? Do they submit the plans on your behalf and negotiate with the Planning Authorities? Be wary of employing un-qualified, uninsured 'plan-drawers', it could well be a false economy.

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13. I already have planning permission. Can you upgrade my plans to working drawings?

We will be happy to provide you with working drawings, however this will mean starting the whole process again with us carrying out a survey of your property and redrawing your scheme. We will not alter or upgrade plans drawn by a third party. The working drawings need to be very accurate to ensure that your builder can carry out his work in accordance with your wishes, also to be certain that structural elements are correctly detailed. As we will be responsible for the accuracy of the plans we will only work from our own measurement and site survey.

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14. Can you advise me on sustainability?

The Building Regulations take energy conservation very seriously and any new building work has to achieve a high standard in order to comply. We are Accredited Energy Assessors for newly constructed dwellings and can carry out Energy ratings to SAP 2012. We can advise you on the pros and cons of different types of construction methods, insulation, building materials and renewable technology and whether it is appropriate for your project.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS