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Frequently Asked Questions


1We live in a semi-detached property & are now thinking about extending our property to create more living space plus a master bedroom with en suite. However, we are unsure if this would be possible or indeed how we would achieve it – what’s the best way to start?
The first point of contact would be a telephone conversation with (or email to) a member of our design team to obtain further information about the existing property. We will also ask if you are in a Conservation Area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or any other protected land area. Once we know your full address, we can look at the property using online software to see what may be the most suitable approach – it may be a two storey side extension, or it could be a single storey extension to provide additional living space with a loft conversion to achieve the master bedroom with en suite.
2I have just purchased a detached property which is situated on a large plot of land; however, the building is now very aged and decrepit so I would like to explore the possibility of demolishing it and constructing one, or maybe even two, new property in its place – can you offer any advice before I go too far?
If you have just purchased the property, there will more than likely be some form of drawings available – on rare occasions this may be a good level of detailed plans or may even be simple estate agent floorplans; either way, these are a fair starting point for us to get a feel for how one or two properties could potentially work on the land in question. Unlike some projects where we are generally able to provide a fee quotation prior to a visit, a job of this nature would require a site meeting and initial consultation before costs could be agreed.
3We’ve recently obtained planning permission for a side & rear extension to our property but unfortunately our working relationship with our current architect has broken down. We now need the building regulations drawings completed – are you able to do this for us?
Whilst far from being an ideal scenario for both parties, this is a question we have been asked on a number of occasions. The drawing and details produced by your previous architect will most likely be their property by copyright so a new set of plans would need to be produced unfortunately. Plus, in order to ensure we are still covered by our Professional Indemnity insurance, a measured survey of the property will be required. Due to the nature of this work, fees are provided on a case-by-case basis and we would strongly advise taking advantage of the Local Authority Pre-Application Enquiry system.


1We would like to carry out a loft conversion to our semi-detached property in Tunbridge Wells but have been told by a friend that we may not need planning permission. Is this correct?
This is dependent on a number of factors, but there is most definitely a possibility that a loft conversion can be approved under a Lawful Development Certificate and without the need for a Houesholder Planning Application. We would firstly need to check and confirm that your property is not within a Conservation Area, AONB or other protected land area, whilst also ensuring that a loft conversion would be feasible without raising the existing ridge or constructing a front dormer – these are just two factors that would not comply with Lawful Development. Having completed full architectural drawings for well in excess of 500 loft conversions, our design team would be extremely well placed and more than happy to guide you through this process.
2Due to some financial constraints, we may not have the funds available to complete the building works for our two storey side extension immediately but would like to get the drawings produced and (hopefully) planning permission granted; if we do, how long will the planning last?
This can vary somewhat from council to council but, generally, most Local Authorities grant planning consent for a period of 3 years. This means that construction works on site would need to commence within this time period but not necessarily completed. If you do not commence with the proposed development within this period, then a new application would need to be submitted to the Local Authority.
3We want to carry out a single storey rear extension to our property in West Malling to create a larger Kitchen and family space; our builder has advised that we don’t need planning permission but I’m reluctant to proceed without some form of ‘consent’ from the council. Can you please give us your advice?
Whilst some single storey rear extensions can be carried out without the need to obtain Householder Planning Consent, we would always advise our clients to seek professional advice before proceeding on site with any construction works. This could involve a simple Pre-Application Enquiry or even a Permitted or Lawful Development Certificate application to the council to be sure. Unfortunately, we have come across too many projects where a client had been ‘advised’ or ‘had assumed’ that an extension would not require planning and then appointed EK Planning to apply for permission retrospectively. Even if a proposed extension does come under PD/LD, we still advise all our clients to obtain this consent from the council – if you do ever decide to move house & the property is sold, it can make life far simpler when your prospective buyer’s surveyor carries out their survey and searches.

Building Regulations

1Who are building control? Also, do we have to use the council or can we use a private company?
Once the full building regulations drawings are completed, an application must be submitted to building control under a Full Plans Application for plan checking and appraisal to ensure compliancy and obtain a certificate in accordance with Part IV of the Building Regulations 2010. When full plans consent is obtained, the building control officer will carry out site inspections at relevant times during the works to ensure construction is carried out in line with the approved drawings and specification. Normally, for the majority of residential projects, the building control officer will liaise directly with your chosen principal contractor or builder so as to ensure inspections are carried out at the right time.

With regards to using LABC (Local Authority Building Control) or an AI (Approved Inspector), this is something that can be discussed with EK Planning and builder, if one is already on board at the early stages of your project. EK Planning are registered as part of the LABC Partner Authority Scheme but also have a good close working relationship with a local Corporate Approved Inspectors company.
2Now that planning permission has been granted for our project, do we need building regulations drawings produced or can we just proceed with a building notice?
There are generally two applications with the building regulations phase of your project - either a full plans application or a building notice. Essentially, a building notice is simply a notification to the council with a general description of the project and informing them of your intentions to commence works on site. The council surveyor (sometimes referred to as a building inspector, surveyor or building control officer) will then visit at relevant times throughout the construction process. However, the potential problem with this is that if your chosen builder has ‘missed, misunderstood or mistakenly’ completed a part of the works which are wrong or non-compliant with the building regulations, then the surveyor can request changes/adaptations to any part of the project already completed. We advise all of our clients to apply for building regulations approval via a full plans application – this ensures that any details, discrepancies or interpretations are agreed and approved at the plans stage and before any works commence on site.
3Do your building regulations drawings also include structural engineer’s drawings and calculations?
Whilst the architectural drawings produced by EK Planning identify areas of the project where structural design input is likely to be required, we are not qualified engineers and are not covered under our Professional Indemnity insurance for structural design. Having built a solid and professional working relationship with a handful of structural engineers over a long period of time, we would be only too pleased to involve them in your project as required. Any technical discussions or drawing coordination between ourselves and the appointed engineer would always be included in any fee quotation so our clients do not need to worry about becoming the ‘middle man’.


1After being granted planning permission for our extension works and also gaining full Approval of Plans from building control, we have now selected a builder for the works; do we still require your input to oversee and project manage the construction works or can our builder do this?
Unless these services have been agreed in writing when appointing EK Planning, then we will not be required to project manage (PM) or contract administer (CA) the construction works. Within the residential sector (and current climate), the majority of homeowners tend to ‘appoint’ their chosen builder to oversee the works from commencement through to practical completion. However, it is important that our clients and their builder are aware of the need to appoint a Principal Designer & Principal Contractor to comply with The CDM Regulations 2015. We will guide and advise all our clients on this matter at the beginning of a project and before any construction works are commenced but if you are still unsure please never hesitate to contact us.

With regards to our commercial clients, we will often be appointed as the Principal Designer to PM and CA the works for the project from concept through to practical completion.
2We now have everything in place ready to commence the build works for our loft conversion. However, should I have some kind of contract in place with the builders to ensure there are no problems or disputes throughout the project?
As the majority of people will know (professionals & the general public), taking on some construction projects can prove difficult and challenging to say the least. Whilst a form of contract is not mandatory, we feel it is essential to ensure there is clarity and structure in any working relationship between you and your builder. Unfortunately, disputes between contractors and their clients are all too common – as a minimum, set out the critical points of the project such as the employer (i.e, you, the client), the builder’s name/company (i.e. Principal Contractor, not including sub-contractors; it is the PC’s job to manage & instruct any sub-contractors, not the client), start & completion dates, outline scope of works, project costs and what is/isn’t included, stage payment terms, insurances, access & welfare facilities, etc. It should be possible to carry out projects such as loft conversions or extensions under a standard letter of appointment with the fundamental details and information included, then signed by both parties.

We would be more than happy to assist and guide all our clients further on contract matters should they require it.
3We now have the building regulations drawings for our project but our builder has asked for the full working drawings; is this something you provide?
Again, this is another question and area of confusion for some clients and/or their builder. There is quite a substantial difference between a set of building regulations (BR) dwgs and full working drawings. Nearly all residential projects undertaken by EK Planning are carried out with the requirement of BR drawings only; the fundamental difference between the two is the BR drawings and specification are produced to gain approval of plans from building control. Working drawings will include (but not be limited to) detailed drawings, generally at a scale of 1:5/1:10/1:20, such as a full door and window schedule or other second fix joinery details, building services information (such as electrical points, radiator positions and pipework runs), bespoke glazing, etc. Note: some, or all of, this information may or may not be provided by EK Planning.

Our role within each and every project is clearly discussed, laid out and agreed with all our clients at the appointment stage but we are always happy to provide additional services at any stage of the build to ensure the works are executed as clinically as possible.

With our commercial clients and projects, more often than not we will be appointed as the Principal Designer to complete a full set of detailed working drawings in line with the agreed contract.

Space Planning & Interior Design FAQ’s

1I am the Facilities Manager of a medium to large corporate business within the City of London but we will soon be moving to new premises – I have been tasked with designing and planning the new office space; is this something your company would be able to assist us with?
In addition to a wealth of knowledge and expertise planning corporate office space, we also have an abundance of experience working with corporate clients and fully understand the challenges this can bring. Following our initial consultation meeting and understanding of the project brief, we will then be able to produce some high-level concept drawings to give you a feel for how the new office could work. As the project progresses, we can create full 3D visualisation and walk-through videos to really show how the space can work and bring the office to life.
2We are responsible for showing and reporting levels of occupancy for our portfolio of buildings across the organisation and wondered if your company could help us in creating an intelligent report and library of our estate.
Managing the property portfolio (or estate) of a business/organisation is crucial in order to maintain a clear and concise record of information. Combining As-Built drawings with associated documentation is essential, not only to assist with budgeting and PPM (Pre-Planned Maintenance) but when undertaking a new improvement project it is fundamental to have an accurate baseline and clear representation for each and every building.

Contract Administration & Project Management

1In addition to the detailed design and scope of works, are you able to oversee and project manage the job on our behalf? We simply don’t have the time or resource within our facilities department.
We offer a full Principal Designer service, from concept through to contract administration and project management for all different construction projects. Working closely with the employer and Principal Contractor at all times, we are able to oversee progress works on site as well as managing project costings, including any variations, through to practical completion.
2We are potentially looking for a company to oversee our project, but what exactly is a Contract Administrator?
The Contract Administrator role (CA) is responsible for administering the terms of the agreed building contract as well as ensuring good administrative practices are followed. The CA will act as the agent of the employer in some circumstances but will also be required to make impartial decisions in others, ensuring fairness between the employer and principal contractor at all times.

BIM Coordination Drawings

1Does BIM really improve coordination and collaboration?
The simple answer is yes. One of the primary benefits of BIM is that it can assist in improving your collaboration and coordination with other members of the project team. One of the main reasons for inefficiency within the industry is down to a lack of collaboration & a failure to collaborate fully at the beginning and throughout the project. This can lead to delays and costings being pushed way above initial estimations.

BIM can vastly improve the collaboration of your project by opening up channels of communication and making it easier for you to work effectively with other members of the project.
2What are the advantages of BIM?
Thanks to the collaborative work environment and information than can be added in real time to the virtual model, Building Information Modelling (BIM) allows the user to have a preview and a wider overview of the project. Thus, the methodology makes it far easier to avoid mistakes, interferences and improvisations which enables these potential ‘clashes’ to be eradicated at the design stage and reduces the time and cost invested in the project.