When you’re considering a home renovation, the first question you might ask yourself is “Do I need an architect?”. The simple answer is not always! In this article, we’ll dive into when an architect is needed, as well as alternatives for your construction project.

Do I Need an Architect?

No! In fact, it’s not a legal requirement to hire an architect or get architect drawings in the UK for projects of any scale, from small extensions to large builds. Sometimes, homeowners prefer to hire an architect if their extension project is very specialised, very extensive, or unusual. But this can be very expensive and not always worth it if you have a look at the alternatives, which include a design and build company.

Will I Need Planning Permission for Extension Work?

This depends on the scope of your project and several other factors. In general, you will only need building planning permission if the project falls outside these limitations:

  • The size of the extension is more than half the area of land around the “original house”. This includes the time since the property was originally built, so be sure to include later extensions.
  • If the finished extension is nearer the public highway either by way of front elevation or side. 
  • The extension is higher than the highest part of the roof. 
  • If your single-storey rear extension will extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 3m (semi-detached house) or by 4m (detached house).
  • If the maximum height of a single-storey rear extension is higher than 4m.
  • If it will extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 3m.
  • If the eaves and ridge height of your extension are higher than the existing house.
  • If the side extension is a double storey or above 4m in height or has a width more than half that of the original house.
  • If your two-storey extension is closer than 7m to the rear boundary. 
  • If the materials used for the extension are different in appearance from the existing house. 

The good news is that if you do need planning permission, you still don’t need an architect, as your design and build company can manage the planning process for you.

Can I Go Straight to The Builder?

Please don’t – this is the number one reason for nightmare extension projects! Even if you have a great builder, their talent is in construction – not in planning permission or design. Building an extension takes vision, aesthetics, and a lot of money, and while builders are a part of this, we’d stake our reputation on it that there’s no extension that hasn’t significantly benefitted from having a design team work with your builder.

Using a Design and Build Company for Your Extension

A design and build company offer the best of both options – a talented design team and a reputable builder and contractors to deliver your home extension. It’s more affordable than hiring an architect or getting drawings from an architect, and you have one team to manage every aspect of your project rather than juggling an architect, builder, and multiple subcontractors. It’s also faster because we project manage your build, making sure the right people are on-site at the right time, with no delays caused by contractors having to be on other sites. As a design and build company, we can handle every aspect of the project from the initial designs and any necessary planning permission through to the building process and when we hand over the completed extension.

When to Consider Using an Architect During the Planning Stage

Of course, you are always welcome to use an architect during the planning stage, although a design team can accomplish the same tasks. Having an architect is more expensive and it can be challenging to find a firm willing to take on smaller projects like extensions, but their expertise can be useful for very intensive or complex designs. The planning phase can involve multiple designs for your extension and the schematic designs can be very useful for high-concept spaces where innovative design features or materials are included.

Read more about building regulations in the UK.

If you want the same quality and design focus as an architect-driven build combined with greater affordability and a faster timeline to completion, it’s time to give the Plus Rooms team a call. We are an experienced, full-service design and construction business, handling every aspect of your construction projects and with an exceptional track record of completing over 1,400 projects in homes throughout London to world-class standards. In addition to handling small home extensions and kitchen extensions, we also specialise in single storey, double storey, and loft extensions.