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Planning a Refurbishment or a new Building

Planning A Refurbishment or a New Building


Whether you’re refurbishing or building a block of flats, or adding an extension to a modest domestic semi, you need to be organised.


This is the starting point for all new builds or refurbishments where planning and building regulations approvals are required at a minimum. Other legal consents may also be applicable.

The larger the scheme, the more important the feasibility stage is. Feasibility is the Client’s starting point. The following should be covered.

1. Budget. Budget is King. How much can or is the Client prepared to spend? Domestic jobs will often be on a tighter budget than a high end residential one where a few tens or hundreds of thousands is not a problem. A large scale developer will probably have in mind how much they are prepared to pay for the site (if they do not own it already), professional fees for the consultants they will require – such as architects, chartered structural engineers, quantity surveyors, approved inspectors – the building costs, and the profit they hope to achieve.

2. Design options. Often two or three will be prepared to show the Client.

3. Type of contract and anticipated contract duration.

4. Statutory consents, including outline planning (for larger developments), detailed planning, building regulation approval, listed and conservation consents (where applicable) and compliance with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996 where construction is to take place or or adjacent to the boundary or shared wall with another site or building.

5. Domestic Clients. On smaller projects where the householder does not normally undertake this type of work, a feasibility containing a budget and outline advice on the statutory consents and design information required should be prepared in a short report or letter. This will save arguments and misunderstandings later.

The rest of this article concentrates on larger projects.

Design Option

After the cost and design have been agreed by the Client the key consultants can be appointed for design, structural, M & E, engineering, Approved Inspector, Quantity Surveyor, and party wall matters. Drawings can be prepared for outline planning permission which may be sought first before detailed planning permission. The drawings prepared are to indicate the proposed design in layout and elevation. They are not construction drawings. Detailed construction drawings will need to be prepared for use on site and ahead of that to be included within the prepared specification of works for tender purposes. Where the design and build option is chosen the contractor will have a design team assembled to design the project before it goes to site. Detailed construction drawings will also need to be used for Building Regulation purposes. A full plans building regulations approval will need to be submitted at least 8 weeks ahead of works starting.


The most appropriate form of building contract will have been selected at the time the specification of works is prepared and incorporated within the Prelims section. The accuracy of the specification of works is of crucial importance to save on unecessary costs and abortive works. Smaller jobs will only have two or three contractors tendering for the works. Larger schemes may have approved contractors only on their tender list. Similarly, consultants may also have to be approved. The tenders will need to be assessed, for arithemetical accuracy and also whether they offer a true cost for the proposed works, by the Client’s Agent. The recommendation to the Client should be based on the likelihood of the main contractor achieving the project in time, to good quality and at a fair price.

Before Site Works Start

A walk round site by the main contractor’s site foreman, senior members from the contracting firm – such as the Contracts Manager – and the Client’s Agent before works commence on site is advantageous and helps heed off any problems before construction works start. The contract should be in place before works commence as should any party wall awards for any relevant notifiable works.

Contact Duration

The two vital things are an accurate specification of works and detailed design drawings, to include services. They will reduce the number of variations on a project. That is omissions and additions. A spanner in the works can be an indecisive Client who requests changes. A second spanner can be unforeseen circumstances. Such as the uncovering of an element that was not known to exist before investigative or opening up works were undertaken. An example of this is asbestos where none was thought to exist.

Extension of Time

Largely granted for unforeseen circumstances or Client driven changes to the project that cause delays to the contract completion date set down in the contract.

Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LAD’s)

Where the main contractor has failed to complete by the contract date and there is no reason by the Contract Administrator (C.A) to grant and Extension of Time to the contract date. LAD’s are normally a weekly sum charged by an earlier assessment by the CA of the amount the Client would stand to lose financially by non-completion. The weekly sum is inserted in the contract document.

Final Account

This should be straight forward where monthly certificates of payment have been issued after the contract stages have been accurately inspected and assessed. The contract’s progress should be assessed in terms of quality, time and cost. Normally the C.A, or Quantity Surveyor on larger jobs, will produce the final account with a 2.5% or 5% retention to be released at the end of the 6 or 12 months defects liability period.

For further advice on any of this month’s blog matters contact 020 8995 1750.


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