Miss Smith wanted to build a loft conversion on her Victorian terraced house in Bristol.
"Planning a loft conversion felt like a huge project, not to mention a big investment. At first, I had no idea whether I needed to apply for planning permission and was worried about asking an architect to draw up plans or talk to builders until I knew.
I consulted with an architect, who drew up plans and submitted them to my local authority on my behalf. I tracked my application online through the Portal and found out my application had been refused before my architect had been sent the letter!"
"Although my first application was turned down, I now knew enough about the planning process to understand the reasons that were given. My plans were altered according to the recommendations made by my local planning authority and re-submitted.
My application was approved, with conditions, the second time around."
"When I applied for planning permission, I had no idea I would need to know about Building Regulations as well. I had assumed that this was something the builders would deal with.
Although my architect provided detailed drawings which would help make sure my loft room complied with Building Regulations, I checked up on the Portal about my own responsibilities before any building work began."
What I would have done differently
I would have preferred my plans to be available as a PDF as well as on paper, which would have made it easier to email to builders for quotes and so on.
- "Have a look at buildings and alterations in the local roads to see what sort of development has already taken place."
- "But, be aware that although nearby houses may already have had similar work carried out, it does not automatically mean your application will be accepted."
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Mr Mistry planned extensive work on his house, including a major loft conversion.
"As the loft conversion was part of a much larger project, I did investigate planning permission thoroughly before starting the work.
However, when I researched it with the builder we discovered that the loft conversion itself didn't require planning permission. The conversion didn't change the external appearance of the house, and was within the rules concerning Permitted Development."
"There are two options to ensure that your building conforms to the relevant building regulations: submitting Full Plans for approval in advance, or doing the work By Notice. We chose to do it By Notice, which meant we didn't have to submit plans in advance but had regular on-the-spot meetings with the Building Control Officer who would approve the work as we did it."
What I would have done differently
"Not much - I was actually very happy with the progress of the project. The only thing I would have done differently would be to create digital plans instead of just having paper plans. That way we could have submitted our plans to the council online."
- "If doing the work by notice, rather than by submitting plans, make sure you book the Building Control Officer well in advance, as they are often very busy and in demand."
- "Be very confident about your choice of builder. Mine was absolutely excellent, which made the process a lot less painful. He had great local knowledge, and a good understanding of the appropriate laws."