Design & Planning

Design and Build

Combit Construction North London serves as your all-in-one solution for loft conversions, home extensions, and renovation projects. Experience a comprehensive range of architectural design, survey, and construction services seamlessly integrated under a single roof. With us, there’s no need to search elsewhere, as we handle every aspect of your project, providing you with a single point of contact for all your needs.

Does your renovation project need to be signed-off by the Building Control?

You may need an architect to prepare a set of drawings / specifications to submit to Building Control, and the fee needs to be paid according to the size and complexity of the project.

Please note that you can do minor alteration and refurbishment work that does not involve adding additional kitchens and bathrooms or the removal of any load-bearing walls.

For the following projects you are legally required to obtain Building Control approval:

  • Removing load-bearing walls
  • Additional kitchens and bathrooms
  • House extensions
  • Loft conversions
  • Porches
  • Garage conversions over 30m2
  • Outbuildings over 30m2
  • Basements

Any projects listed above, that were completed without being inspected by Building Control could potentially lead to the following:

  • Structural cracks, subsidence or even collapse of the structure
  • Complications at the time of selling a property that has undergone renovation or extension works for which there is no Completion Certificate from Building Control.

If my project comes under the scope of Permitted Development, do I still need planning approval, building control approval, or an architect?

You can proceed to build any works that are Permitted Development without getting Planning Approval. However, you need to be 100% sure that they are Permitted Development. They need to conform exactly with the dimensional and volume restrictions of Permitted Development. Nobody can confirm 100% whether something is Permitted Development other than the Local Authority, although the risk is low if it is a straightforward project. If you want to be sure that a project is Permitted Development, you will need to apply for a Planning “Certificate of Lawfulness” from the Local Authority. This is worth having (for peace of mind) if there is any doubt in future that the works carried out were Permitted Development, such as when you sell your property, or if neighbours report the works to Planning Enforcement and an investigation is then carried out. In order to obtain a Certificate of Lawfulness you will need planning drawings prepared by an architect. Neighbours are not typically consulted during the process of obtaining a Certificate of Lawfulness, except where very large extensions are proposed (deeper than 3 metres).
Some works may be Permitted Development and still require Building Control approval, such as:

  • Removing load-bearing walls
  • House extensions
  • Loft conversions
  • Some garage conversions
  • Outbuildings over 30m2

For these works you will need a set of Building Control drawings and specifications prepared by an architect, and structural drawings and calculations from a structural engineer. Because these drawings are basically a more detailed version of the Planning Drawings, planning drawings are still needed from which detailed drawings can later be prepared.

If I am planning just a house (or flat) renovation, do I need an architect?

If your project involves re-decoration, changing the kitchen, changing the bathroom, changing floors, doors, re-plumbing, and re-wiring – you don’t need an architect. You may want the help of an interior designer.

If your project involves removing any load-bearing wall/s or creating openings in external walls, you do need Structural Engineer’s calculations and Building Control approval. If the project is straightforward, you can get a structural engineer to specify the new beams without using an architect.

If you are installing a kitchen or bathroom where there previously was none, you will need Building Control approval.

For which kind of projects are architects, structural engineers needed, and when are Building Control and Planning approvals needed or recommended, for my project to be properly run by professionals?

The table below provides a checklist of when the above services would be needed / recommended, across a variety of different projects. Not all extensions are the same and we would always advise you to check with us but below is a rough guide.

Project typeArchitect’s Survey and existing drawingsArchitect’s planning drawingsArchitect’s building control drawingsStructural engineerPlanning applicationBuilding control application
Refurbishment and renovationNoNoNoWhere load-bearing wall removals or new external doors, etc.NoFor new kitchens, bathrooms and load-bearing walls, etc.
Loft conversionYesYes*YesYesIf different to Permitted Development allowancesYes
Extension (rear, front, side, two storey, wraparound)YesYes*YesYesIf different to Permitted Development allowancesYes
Basement conversionYesYesYesYesYesYes
Garage conversionNoNoNoWhere load-bearing wall removals or new external doors, etc.No, if not a self-contained unit.Where new kitchens, bathrooms and load-bearing walls, etc.
OutbuildingRecommendedRecommendedRecommendedYesRecommended if for leisure use. Needed if it is a self-contained unit.If larger than 30m2 footprint
PorchIf different to Permitted Development allowances and larger than 3m2.If different to Permitted Development allowances and larger than 3m2.If different to Permitted Development allowances and larger than 3m2.YesIf different to Permitted Development allowances and larger than 3m2.Yes

*As Building Control drawings are needed for these projects, a survey and planning drawings are also needed as the basis of the more detailed drawings, even if the project is Permitted Development and planning approval is optional. It is always recommended that a Planning application for a Certificate of Lawfulness is submitted when building any kind of extension that is Permitted Development, for confirmation that the works are lawful and for peace of mind.

Do I need any other consultants or professionals?

Party Wall Agreements:

Needed if your house is terraced, semi-detached, if you share a wall/s with your neighbours and you are inserting beams into the party wall, or if you are excavating for new foundations within 3 metres of any neighbouring building. Usually required for:

  • Loft conversion
  • House extension
  • Garage conversion

A party wall surveyor can also carry out a condition survey of the neighbouring properties before the works commence, in case any defects arise during the works.

Thames Water Build Over Agreements:

Needed if you are building over or near to a public sewer, or if you are removing a manhole serving a public sewer.

Energy consultants:

May be required by Building Control where you have a lot of glazing.

Tree and Ecology consultants:

May be required by Planning where there are many trees / wildlife habitats / bats.

Asbestos surveys:

Will be required if it Is suspected that there is Asbestos present

Shall I arrange Local Authority Building Control or Private Building Control (Approved Inspectors)?

You may wish to seek a quote from both and compare them. Costs are often similar. If you are in a hurry to build, a private Building Control inspector would assess your plans much faster than the council would. Councils tend to have inspectors available to inspect at shorter notice periods than the private inspectors. If your architect / contractor / friends recommend a particular company or council, you may wish to consider their recommendations. Both will produce a Completion Certificate that is legally valid.

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