How long does it take from appointing an architect to making a planning application?
It depends on the scale and nature of your project, and what works you are looking to carry out. You may wish to commission a simple extension to your existing home or undertake a more ambitious project such as designing a new bespoke home for you and your family.
Aside from the nature of your ambitions, there are other factors to consider. For example, if you are commissioning an extension to your existing home, does that property have constraints that need to be considered? Perhaps the property is Listed? This can impact what information needs to be prepared, such as a Heritage Statement and can increase the time required to compile the application. However, let’s keep things simple and consider a typical, straightforward, and modest extension to a home.
Firstly, in conjunction with your chosen architect, you will need to determine your brief and agree associated fees. To understand what is involved with defining the project brief, look at our other Q&A Blog here: https://www.rhjbarchitects.com/what-is-an-architectural-project-brief/
Then, usually your architect will undertake a brief Feasibility Study, visiting the property to establish any opportunities and constraints on realising your vision. In tandem with this a Measured Survey of your existing property will be needed. This will involve a company coming to measure the exact positions and heights of the features of your property, and its immediate surroundings, presenting a set of drawings of your existing home and potential influential features of neighbouring properties. This will include window locations which are important to measure, as there are planning policies which impact how far you can extend relative to the position of these. Your architect will brief measuring surveyors on what is required and arrange this piece of work for you. The surveyor will then provide a digital scale drawing for your architect to work with. This piece of work can usually be accomplished in around 3-4 weeks.
The next step is to embark on the Concept Design. This is where your architect will prepare plan drawings of the layout of the building and the extension. At RHJB, we supplement these drawings with carefully chosen 3-dimensional views to give you a really clear understanding of the vision for your home when the proposals are presented to you. This part of the process depends very much on the scale of the project but can take around 3-4 weeks.
Finally, once the designs are agreed, formal Planning Design drawings must be prepared. These need to show the exact size, materials and nature of the proposals, and to an accurate scale. If necessary, your architect will prepare a supplementary design statement to explain the designs in more detail. Planning forms must be completed, and the relevant paperwork submitted, along with the drawings to your Local Planning Authority. For a straightforward house extension, this process usually takes around 2-3 weeks.
Once the drawings and forms are submitted, the Local Authority must check these comply with their requirements. This process is known as the “Validation Period”. Once the application is deemed to be “Valid” you will be assigned a “Case Officer” who will determine the application, and both you and your architect (your “Agent”) will be informed of a decision date. For a house extension, this date is usually 8 weeks after the validation. A decision should be made on the application within this time period. Your architect should be in touch with your case officer in the meantime, to check the application is running smoothly.
So, let’s summarise the approximate timescales for a modest home extension below:
STAGE 0/ 1 – Brief determination, Feasibility study and measured survey:
STAGE 2 – Prepare Concept designs and present them to you:
STAGE 3 – Prepare Planning drawings, application, and support documentation, then submit the application:
Planning Application determination period
A Statutory 8 weeks (Subject to any extension of time request from the planners, and assuming it is not a “major” application)
Total timescale – in the order of 5 months from appointment to a planning decision.
Beyond this, there are further work stages to complete. The first of these is Technical Design drawings (RIBA / RHJB STAGE 4 works). These will be needed to further realise your dream, and we will discuss what is involved with this and the timescales in a future blog post.
We have included a handy guide of the Architectural Works Stages referred to above in the “studio” section of our website, available here: https://www.rhjbarchitects.com/studio-2/