We are hoping/planning to extend out house - single storey, across the back. We were going for 3m depth as then wouldn't need PP (yes?), but are now thinking about going out 4m if the new relaxation of planning laws proposed means we won't need PP. Is this right? What about Building Regs, where do they fit in?
Oh, and while we are at it, what's the difference between an extension, sun room and conservatory. We would like a half brick, half glazed structure, with big rooflights in the ceiling. Is that an extension rather than a conservatory/sun room? If so, what difference does it make, building-wise, leaglly etc.
As you can see, we are at the early planning stages here and pretty clueless. We were hoping to do it via a company recommended to us (but they are booked up for the next few months so unable to come and chat with us for a little while), and not to have to spend on architect plans - is that feasible? All advice welcome <<<wibble>>>
The Government's Planning Portal is really useful in helping you figure out what you are allowed to do without planning permission, especially the "interactive guides" on the right of the home page.
We did a 3m x 3m extension last year (bricks, veluxes in the roof). I'm pretty sure an extension / conservatory / sun room are all much of a muchness when it comes to planning, but that website will tell you.
Building regs - that's just the council coming round and checking your builder is actually building it properly. You have to pay the council a fee. Then they come at set points during the build, and look at the structure, and talk to the builder, and give you a certificate of completion at the end. It's pretty straightforward actually, if you are using a reputable builder (who will know the council people because they will have been round to other projects of his).
There will be lots of info on your local council website under "planning", inc the schedule of fees. And our building regs people were very helpful when we just rang them up and asked them stupid questions.
We didn't use an architect - ours is a kitchen extension and an actual bit of proper building. We drew up rough plans on graph paper and discussed them with our builder. He suggested various things like what the angle of the roof should be, what the options were for the windows and veluxes. We only wanted something pretty straightforward.
It worked really well I thought - the builder was able to help where we didn't know what we wanted (eg the type of bricks and slate on the new roof) and he took direction from us when we did know (eg what kind of door). Definitely didn't need an architect. It helped that we trusted him - we'd been to see three recent similar projects he'd done, and talked to the previous clients, and they all rated him.
Good luck! And do say if you've got any other questions.