Category Archives: Period Buildings

Planning news

 

The owner of an 8 million pound home in Notting Hill, London, had his plans for a new extension rejected after a petition was signed by over 20 people.

One of the people who signed the petition was celebrity Ruby Wax, Miss Wax has described the plans for the extension to be “revolting”

The property that borders the communal garden which was used in the film Notting Hill, had its plans turned down by the planning committee because the upper floor designs were “inappropriate” there may also have been plans to build under the pavement, to house a gym!

The Conservation Vent Grille

Whilst trawling the internet for a suitable vent for a tumble drier that would be sympathetic to the Victorian beauty of the property we were quoting to work on, I came across a company called “Cast iron air brick company” they had an ideal solution for our problem in the shape of the “The Conservation Vent Grille”

A grille made from 100% recycled iron, It is capable of excepting both 4” and 5” ducting and comes in either a black gloss finish or red oxide primer ready for you to add your own colour.

As well as the vent grille this company manufacture a huge range of cast products such as cast air bricks, coal hole covers, cast soil vents and many many more, but don’t take my word for it, check them out for yourselves at www.castironairbricks.co.uk

Building refurbishments and alterations

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.

Solid concrete floors

Many properties both old and new have solid concrete floor slabs, these have both advantages and disadvantages over suspended timber floors. The main disadvantage with older concrete floors is that they can be prone to cracking and can sink or rise up if the substrate the soil or other matter below them has been either disturbed by things like tree roots or defecting water pipes and drains or have simply been constructed badly or damaged from some form of structural damage. The other disadvantage is that older floor slabs often lack both a DPM or damp proof membrane or any insulation and can act as a cold sink drawing heat from the property. It is also more of an issue if you need to retro fit pipe work or cables if you move or add items like sockets and radiators. Often these issues are raised by surveyors when a property is sold or remortgaged and they usually recommend that a structural engineer be commissioned to write a report on the possible causes and recommendations for the removal and remedial repairs to the floor slabs. It is usually recommended that the defective floor slab be replaced and a new DPM and insulation be installed. This will automatically trigger the need for a building notice and the works to be inspected at various stages by the local authority building inspector. Your building contractor should be able to take care of this for you but you should check to make sure they have the paperwork in place and the inspections booked at the appropriate time.

New Year, new building project

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.

Renovating and modernising houses

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.

Roof structures

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.

How much will my home extension cost?

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.

Property conversion projects

When converting an existing property to a new use it can prove both an exciting and rewarding experience both financially and personally. This will require planning permission and building regulation approval. The planning can add value to your building as soon as it is granted this is called the planning gain and some property speculators and property developers simply focus on adding value to their property and projects and then selling a property ready to develop. The next consideration is the building regulations approval these can be both onerous and expensive depending on the type of property and the end use. If you are converting older properties or carrying out a mixed use property development the building regulations and other statutory requirements need to be carefully planned and budgeted. With sub division of properties there is an issue called compartmentalisation this is where individual residences flats or muse dwellings or separate commercial units need to be separated from each other. This is when the individual units are separated or compartmented from acoustic and fire spread from the neighbouring units. When carrying out conversions over many floors or in period building this can require careful planning as some services like drainage will need to pass through or from one unit to another. Sound or acoustics requires a carefully specified design and good onsite installation as the units will have to be sound tested upon completion. The integrity of the buildings fire separation between units will be inspected at the site visits by the building control officer. It is important to get a good building contractor on board who has experience on this type of work and can check the design options and advise on cost savings and value engineering. This could save you thousands of pounds and their experience can prove very valuable when any issues that have not been seen or discovered becomes an issue on site.

Matching stone lintels, and period details

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.