When carrying out building refurbishments it is important to plan out the end result that you would like to achieve. This is sometimes done by professionals like architects or surveyors but often it is left to the property owner and building contractor to finalise the specifications. This needs to be managed carefully because you do not want the works to not comply with the UK building regulations and other statutory requirements that can potentially cause expensive re-working if not done correctly. So your building contractor will need to have a good understanding of the building regulations and other statutory requirements. These are not always well known or understood by some building contractors, you will be able to get a feel for your builders knowledge by asking them some simple questions about the UK building regulations for instance what sections covers the structural elements? It is section “A”. There are other regulations for instance if you are going to use a computer screen in a commercial environment you will need to select the correct light fitting to meet the required regulations. This is not always known to some building contractors and could potentially have you paying for the same item of work twice. Again as with most things it can be a case of buy cheap buy twice.
Most property owners need various building refurbishments and repairs doing from time to time. These range from simple roof repairs through to electrical and building works. Many homeowners and in fact some building contractors are either unsure or unaware that even some repairs will trigger the need to inform the local authority building control department. This is usually done through a building regulations building notice. These vary in costs dependant on the value of the works being carried out, the building inspector will usually be required to conduct a site visit at various stages throughout the building works to check each element of the works as items are covered in. They will want to see drainage, insulation footings details and structural elements that fall under part “A” of the UK building regulations. Good building contractors will take care of managing the building notice as part of their service but ultimately the responsibility lies with the property owner. So make sure you check with your local building control department if your works will require a building regulations building notice application. Some works may not require a building regulations application when you start the works but a change to the works if an unforeseen issue arises can trigger the requirement for an application. Very often this is an issue under part “L”, of the UK building regulations. This is because if more than 25% of any external surface for examples roofs, floors or walls are being repaired it will require a building notice and site inspections.
Today many people are starting New Year resolutions and many are planning to get those things done they have been putting off. After a Christmas at home is it time to consider getting that new home extension or building project underway. Many people are put off by not knowing where to start? Do you need an architect or a builder first? Well most home owners have some budget constraints so speaking to good reputable builders will give you some idea of if your project can be done in budget. They will also be able to recommend an architect who they have worked with before it is always a good idea to have a good working relationship between your main building contractor and your architect. They will be able to resolve design and site issues between them and will be keen to help each other out and get your building project complete as designed. It is also an ideal time as the design, planning and building regulation process timescales will mean that you are ready to get building in the spring a favoured time for many home owners. You could be showing your friends and family round your beautiful new home extension or completed building project at a summer barbeque. So why not get an easy tick on your new years to do list and get your building project underway in 2013.
Many property owners either decide to upgrade their existing homes or decide to buy one that requires building work to save costs or give themselves a project. So where is the best place to start? Well it is important to consider the whole project and what you are looking to achieve from your renovation project. We have often be asked to add alarm systems, T.V. points or outside taps and other items once the plastering has been complete which has added costs, rework and potentially affected the final finish. So the first thing to do is work on your design this does not always mean a full set of architects drawings, although even on small projects they are a good idea if the budget will allow it. So get some drawings or do some sketches, it is a good idea to do small sketches of how you want certain details to finish to help your builder get you just what you want. Along with your drawings you need a list of what you want to do and what materials you want to use. This is called a schedule of works although on bigger projects the projects manager or contracts administrator will use a variety of documents that are cross referenced to form the project documentation and contract documents. The more work effort and time you put into this the easier it will be for your builder to provide a fixed price contract for all the works. This is important as it is the only way to really obtain like for like quotations that allow you to choose your building contractor. When selecting a building contractor it is important to see one of the projects they are currently undertaking and talk to some of their previous customers. Different building contractors tend to be better at some types of work than others simply because of their experience and their employees skills and experience. So ask contractors about similar projects they have undertaken and do a little research so you can ask them a few technical questions about building regulations and how to finish various robust details of the build. Your contractor should be able talk not only with authority about building regulations but also with a passion for your project. Those contractors who are genuinely passionate about their work will leave you with a better finished project than those who just see it as another job.
The first stage of planning a home extension is to get your home extension designed so you will need to get your ideas or sketches draw up by an architect. These will either form the basic design for your planning application drawings or for your building regulations drawings. The first stage is that your architect will meet you at your property and carry out a survey of the property, to create drawings of your property, it is these drawings that are called the existing drawings. From these drawings the architect will be able to take measurements and work out how best to get your ideas into a fixed design and in the form of a drawing. Then you can check these drawings and make sure you are happy with the proposed design for your new home extension. Then these drawings can be submitted for either a planning application or a full submission building regulations application. Many home extensions can be built without the need for planning applications but it is important that you or your architect check to make sure and either get it in writing or apply for a lawfulness certificate. This will be important if you come to sell or remortgage your home as any conveyancing solicitor will check this is in place before they complete any sale or remortgaging transaction. If you do need to obtain planning permission to build your home extension you can either go through the planning process which take a couple of months and then apply for building regulation approval or carry out the two applications concurrently. The planning process is to determine that your home extension project is in line and in keeping with the current development of your local area. The building regulations process is to check that what you are proposing to build will meet the current building regulations. These are split into various sections titled with a letter for instance part “A” covers the structural integrity, part “P” covers the electrical installation and part “L” the thermal efficiency of the property.
There are various types of roof structures and they are repaired or designed with a combination of timber and steel trusses or roof members. The two main types of roof structures are trussed roofs which are usual on more modern properties usually properties constructed from the late 1970’s to modern day. The second type is often referred to as being stick built, this is when individual timbers or steels are used to form the roof structure. Roof trusses are usually designed and constructed off site and then delivered as readymade trusses and placed on the wall plate and lined up and braced together on site to form the roof structure. With trussed roofs the skill and experience required to fit these correctly is at a lower level than that required for stick built roof structures. Often when more complex roofs are designed and constructed on sites they usually combine individual or linked steel beams as well as individual timbers usually in the form of rafters. The two main timbers used when constructing stick built roofs are the purlins and rafters. Purlins are normally large timbers or steel beams used to reduce the span that the rafters cover by supporting them at the half way point or breaking the span into even thirds. Many home extension roofs use ridge beams this allows for warm or open roof design and is used to eliminate the potential for roof spread. Roof spread is when the loads from the weight of the roof puts too much pressure on the wall plates and can cause the walls to be pushed out. This is a very serious structural problem and can be both challenging and expensive to remedy. One of the more unusual and difficult structural roof steels is a cranked beam. These are some time used to transfer roof loads down from the roof and still allow for a vaulted ceiling or one with sarking detail, or partially sloped ceilings. Cranked steel beams need to be both perfect in length in both directions from the crank angle and the angle must be degree perfect to allow the roof loads and the roof plan to be constructed with the structural integrity as designed. So you will require a competent and experienced roofing and building contractor to make sure these are installed correctly.
Many home owners long for extra space and a modern and contemporary home extension but are unsure how to get their home extension projects underway as they fear the costs of such a project. So how do you know that your home extension is going to be in your budget? The obvious answer is to get quotations from local building contractors which is simple on smaller projects. If you have a grander or more unusually building project it is a good idea to employ a quantity or building surveyor. There is a cost involved in this but it can save you huge amounts of money in the long run. These professionals will look at the project and check the costs are below or in line with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors standard schedule of rates. They will help you put a building tender together to make sure that the prices that you get back from building contractors are like for like and that no items and costs have been omitted. This helps reduce the chances of extra and additional costs they will also control costs on site so that extra work and extra costs are all agreed on site prior to you suddenly receiving an unexpected bill. They will help you get a contract in place that both protects you and your building contractor and their role in the project is to act as contracts administrator. They will also be able to recommend building contractors who they have worked with previously and know the quality of their work. Although many home owners are concerned about the costs involved in employing a professional to oversee their building project it does add a level of protection. Many people have stories to tell about less competent and unscrupulous builders and these will be frightened off by the involvement of a contract and a professional to oversee the building project.
Many property developers and home owners like to get their projects set up ready to start the building or construction phase early in the New Year. So this time of year is a good time to make sure that you have all the necessary documentation and your building contractors in place. Good building contractors get booked up so it’s a good idea to get the build costs agreed and a start date confirmed. You will also need to make sure you have ironed out all the planning conditions any issues with building control as well as other items that need to be ready before you start your building project. If the building project is a new build or a commercial property you will need to make sure that you put in an F10 form and appoint a competent person to look after your heath and safety responsibilities. You will also need to make sure you have an asbestos report from a suitable asbestos surveyor. There are other items that need to be organised prior to you starting the building works these range from ordering items with long lead times like bespoke stonework of specialist lintels and bespoke windows. Through to organising statutory supplies like gas and electric and checking any requirements under the UK building regulations and if your project will fall under certain statutory requirements like disabled access and fire regulations. The key to a successful and stress free project is to employ good competent professionals like architects surveyors and an experienced and competent building main contractor. As with most things in life cheap is not always the best, good professionals and building contractors can save you thousands of pounds by finding the most cost effective solutions for items like drainage, fire safety and specialist acoustics and other mechanical and electrical solutions. They can also find the best solutions to structural issues saving money on unnecessary steel works. This skill only comes from their experience on other building and construction projects. Good construction professionals will also have a lot of contacts within the industry and may be able to reduce your finance costs and other costs by recommending other industry experts and professionals. They may be able to put you in contact with a good planning consultant or a general practice surveyor these could save you thousands of pounds on issues like party walls and planning conditions. They can often spot issues that you may have missed that may only become issues once your property development is complete and at this stage it could cost you a lot more to overcome.
Many home and building owners want to make sure they project their investment by matching the existing period details if they are carrying out repairs, extensions or alterations. Many do not know where best to start when matching bespoke period details like stone lintels and corbel or special brick details. There are always options but matching original details can be expensive and it is important to consider the lead time of these items particularly if they form part of the structural element. If you are having stone detailing matched stone masons are usually booked up and cannot run up a couple of hand carved lintels in a few days. So make sure you start to look into suppliers before you start your building project. Again with items like bespoke bricks known as specials in the construction industry these take time to have made and are often tinted which adds more lead time. You do not want your brick layers leaving site to start another job because they have no bricks to lay. These bricks are often set as what is known as string courses often at first floor level so if they are not organised to site quickly you can end up with the build on hold just as it is starting to take shape. With stone work you can either go for natural stone or a reconstituted stone that is formed in a mould. These are considerably cheaper than the original stone work however this does have a few disadvantages. The first is that a purest will spot the reconstituted stone and this could potentially devalue your project and property. The other issue is that reconstituted stone requires a certain curing time for it to harden so again it can slow your building project down. Finally be careful if you have large openings to support because reconstituted stone lintels are not as strong as their natural stone counterparts. This means that on larger openings you will require specialist lintels to be added to the reconstituted stone lintels. This again can cause delays and reduces the savings made as well as this you can often see small sections of the steel lintels. This again detracts from the overall look, feel and success of your finished period renovation or home extension.
Many home extensions are now built using steel beams to allow for larger rooms and open ceilings and this allows home owners and architects to create larger open plan living spaces. Modern living for families or entertaining often demands that extra open plan living space and at Christmas time when families get together it proves very useful. There are different types, sizes and combinations of steel beams or RSJ’s used dependant on the size and loadings that are required to create large rooms upstairs and downstairs. It is sometimes the case on grander home extensions that gable ends are constructed mainly out of steel and glass to give large door openings and let in large amounts of natural light. This type of design was once contained to barn conversions or very high end house design but is becoming more popular on even simple single story home extensions. Ridge beams allow you to circumvent the need for roof trusses and allow you to have full height or warm roof construction. This gives a great feeling of space and with the addition of roof windows allows for even greater levels of natural light. These more complex designs and steel works do require a greater level of skill and experience from your building contractor so make sure you can see examples of previous similar projects they have carried out. With steel frames and cranked steel beams the fitting and measurements need to be carefully worked out and fitted but a competent builder who has experience in carrying out this type of work will be able to deliver some beautiful finishes and designs. Steel beam and RSJ sizes vary dependant on the loads and spans that are required. They are usually specified by their depth this is the upright section called the web and the horizontal sections called the flanges. The sizes of the beams need to be specified by a structural engineer and their calculations will need to be checked by the building inspector. The steels are also specified by their thickness usually classed in the weight per metre. So for instance you would get a steel beam or RSJ specified as being a 178mm (the depth) by 102mm (the width) by 19UB this is the equivalent to the weight per meter.