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Remodelling downstairs - how does it work?

(22 Posts)
PippaFawcett Wed 31-Aug-16 11:18:29

We want to remodel the downstairs of our new house. How will it work? Do we need an architect and if so, will a builder work off the plans and do the plans detail everything from where the plumbing should be etc? And how do building regs fit in and at what stage do we need to ensure we are complying with those? I'm clueless as you can tell.

Sleepybeanbump Wed 31-Aug-16 11:27:05

Depends how extensive the remodel is. If it's just knocking a few walls down no architect is required. The builder will know a structural engineer who will do the calculations for the ste supports by email. That's what we've done in the past. I've generally saved the money and used a point and wave approach. Some builders are happy with this some aren't. I've never done a lighting plan etc, just an hour chatting with the sparky. There's very different ways of going about things.
Some dedicated extension companies have an in house architect and will essentially take care of everything in house. Or you could find an architect and then find a builder. Or find a builder who might well know an architect they recommend.

Sleepybeanbump Wed 31-Aug-16 11:29:44

Oh and once you have plans (if you do) you can submit them to building control who then visit during and/or at completion to check everything complies.

PippaFawcett Wed 31-Aug-16 11:30:49

Thanks Sleepy, that is helpful. It isn't that extensive, but there is a big chimney breast in the way that could either stay or be removed, depending on the plans.

Sleepybeanbump Wed 31-Aug-16 11:38:53

I've knocked out two chimney breasts. It's not actually anywhere near as big or complicated job as you'd think. £1k ish, one day with a lot of banging and dust. Several mean swearing as they put an RSJ under the remaining bit, visit by building control. Job done. Builder just emails an engineer for the weight calculations.
By all means pay for plans if you want expert advice about how best to weigh up and decide different options or work out how to achieve something you can't quite see how to do. But if you know exactly what you want, and it's just biffing your existing space about a bit, you might be able to save the money and not bother.
Dislaimer-I'm very sceptical about architects. Our loft one measured everything wrong and we had to redesign our bathroom in 5 minutes when the chippy realised the bathroom was going to be a metre smaller than the plans showed! When I was younger my mother's architect said it was impossible to do what she wanted.... So she drew it on some graph paper and gave it to her builder who said no problem!

Sleepybeanbump Wed 31-Aug-16 11:41:37

Ps if I'd known I'd have removed all but one chimney breast in our last house. It gains you a surprising amount of extra space and flexibility for very little difficulty. Unless you're wedded to the idea of making a real feature of it (fireplace, exposed brick etc) I'd get rid.

PippaFawcett Wed 31-Aug-16 11:45:18

That is interesting. We know what we want to achieve - bigger kitchen, more light less redundant space etc but we don't know how to get there yet. I guess it depends on the builder and whether they are experienced enough to make good suggestions too.

Sleepybeanbump Wed 31-Aug-16 12:14:54

Where are you? If you're south west London/Surrey I can recommend two builders we've used.

PippaFawcett Wed 31-Aug-16 12:21:54

We are in the Midlands so bit far, but thanks!

MiaowTheCat Thu 01-Sep-16 19:08:13

I would have taken the chimney breasts out here - but for the fact that after having one wall removed last year I hit my banging brick dust tolerance threshold and decided to just use the alcoves created in rooms as features instead.
We did take the wall out between the kitchen and dining "room" (had already previously been knocked through into living room) which makes our downstairs living space into a big L which works much better for us.

Floggingmolly Thu 01-Sep-16 19:13:56

Sleepy, is it an issue to remove a chimney breast when there's another fireplace upstairs directly overhead? Probably a stupid question; I suppose that's what the support is for...

Sleepybeanbump Thu 01-Sep-16 20:01:52

Not stupid. A few years ago I'd have thought it was the most insanely complicated job and you'd need to take the whole thing out top to tie. But Yes, that's what the support is for. Quite easy. The one above than stay in place smile

Sleepybeanbump Thu 01-Sep-16 20:03:02

Sorry typos. Top to toe and the one above that.

Floggingmolly Thu 01-Sep-16 20:09:33

Ah, cheers smile That'll make life a lot easier...

yomellamoHelly Fri 02-Sep-16 11:18:41

I did plans myself when we redid the back of our house. Builders quoted using those drawings and the one that got the job sorted out all the logisitcs himself. Did have a clear idea of what I wanted though. (And it was the builder who convinced me to get rid of the chimney breast too. Very glad he did.)

yomellamoHelly Fri 02-Sep-16 11:19:55

Would post your ideas on here with a sketch for other Mners to refine. There are some posters who have a real eye for this kind of thing.

Pigeonpost Fri 02-Sep-16 11:21:01

Warning on the removing a ch

Pigeonpost Fri 02-Sep-16 11:22:05

Argh! Warning on the removing a chimney breast thing. Previous owners of our last house did it. Left the one in the room above. Cost us £4K to have the support put in a later date...

Floggingmolly Fri 02-Sep-16 14:05:01


namechangedtoday15 Fri 02-Sep-16 14:13:26

Had it done here. But it isn't necessarily as easy as others make out. Ours was huge, a really big job, radiator was attached to it on kitchen side. Plumbing / gas pipe / electrics ran inside it which all had to be moved. Ceilings and floors weren't in line (1930s house) so they had to be plastered / levelled. Certainly more than £1k (about £3.5k). So whilst it may be easy, it's not always!!

Sleepybeanbump Sat 03-Sep-16 14:06:17

I stand corrected. I'm surprised though as we had our two done very recently by two different builders, both of whom charge pretty high London rates, and it really was only 1k and very easy!
Normally it's me looking at people talking about building prices on here and thinking 'yeah right, multiply that by 3!'

Floggingmolly Sat 03-Sep-16 15:08:52

I'd appreciate the West London builder recommendation, Sleepy? Finding anyone remotely reliable or trustworthy is proving to be a depressing (and expensive) waste of time.

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