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  • Writer's pictureJulie Bliss


Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Thinking of an extension, significant addition or improvement to your home this year? If you are, you’ll quickly realise it’s quite a big job and there’s a lot to coordinate when it comes to making your dream a reality. This is why most people tend to call in an expert, particularly if there’s planning applications and drawings involved. It’s a bit of a process, but here’s a useful outline as to how it should go…


1. Initial Chat

When a client contacts me wanting to do improvements to their home, a meet up is arranged in their home so I can see their style, listen to their wants and needs, understand their lifestyle and talk through how it can become a reality.

2. Quotation of Proposed Works

Further to our introduction chat, I would write up notes further to our discussion from which a quotation is produced. This quote would include:

  • A description summarising the outcome of the conversation from the meeting

  • The type of Planning application agreed (e.g. Full Householder Planning, Permitted Development etc) and associated fees, with a brief outline of how it all works

  • In terms of Bliss Interiors’ fees, the first stage will be given for work from Design to Planning then a separate fee for the second stage, Production of Drawings and Documents for Tender Submission plus a Building Regulations application

  • This usually takes around one week to produce.

3. Design

Once this quote has been accepted and Bliss Interiors appointed, the next steps for me as the designer are as follows:

  • Visit the property to carry out a full survey

  • From this survey, draw up plans, elevations and sections of the existing

  • Work on the designs preparing drawings and concept visuals ready for client presentation. Note; this would include furniture layout on the drawings where appropriate to enable a full story as to how the spaces would be lived in.

  • Present these drawings and concept visuals to the client where the designs are talked through with any subsequent adjustments agreed upon

  • Adjust the drawings if needed, prepare ready for planning and submit to client for approval.

  • Submit planning application(s) and follow through to decision

It is usual to take around two weeks to produce the designs for presentation.

4. Planning

There are a few key methods of obtaining planning permission and it can be a little tricky depending on the size of your proposed build and also where you’re located (e.g. in a conservation area).


I would usually be able to guide clients through the chances of getting planning permission under full or permitted development. However, should the proposal prove to be on the cusp of planning guidelines then I would advise you carry out a ‘pre-application’.

This is a formal process (usually around £100 planning fees depending the Council) whereby your designer will request direct advice (via letter or meeting) from the planning officer on the design proposal to get further guidance on what is likely to be approved.

Full Planning (under Householder)

Full planning includes full details of access, layout of the site, siting of buildings with full plans and elevations of all buildings, plus potential highways and drainage plans (see below).

NB: Full Planning is always required for applications within a Conservation Area.

  • The Planning Application is submitted online via the Planning Portal and applications take around a week to 10 days to be registered, then eight weeks to process.

  • If full planning is required, your local council, neighbours and any other interested parties may submit comments or objections by a specific date.

  • Your planning council then takes all these into consideration and will either approve your application, ask you to submit more details or make any adjustments.

  • If they do reject the initial proposal, it is possible to have a second go with no additional fees required from the planners.

  • The fee for this is currently £206 (+ £25 portal fees)

Permitted Development

There are certain types of renovation and extension work that you can carry out on your home without the need for planning permission.

These works are under the banner of "Permitted Development" rights. (See article here for explanation and criteria and here for terms and conditions of Permitted Development).

Fees are currently £103 (+ £25 portal fees). Allow eight weeks to process.

Prior Notification

Prior Notification is a relatively new Government led policy which was original put in place as a temporary method. Subsequent to it becoming a permanent policy, fees were introduced August 2019.

  • Here are the basics of what you need to know for a Prior Notification application:

  • Prior Notification is where an application is made for a deeper extension than allowed under Permitted Development (PD).

  • All adjoining neighbours would be informed and if any raises concerns (within 21 days) then the planners will take a view and it may not be allowed.

  • Should there be no objections and all other regulations are met under PD then it should be awarded.

  • Proposed extensions could be from 3 to 6 metres for a terraced or semi or from 4 to 8 metres for a detached property.

  • Planning fees for Prior Notification are currently £96 (+ £25 portal fees) and takes 6 weeks to process with a follow-on PD application (fees as above) which takes eight weeks to process.

5. Tender for Contractors

Further to planning consent, the next step is to produce a tender package that includes detailed drawings and documentation for pricing by invited contractors and submission for building regulations certification.

This tender package would include a full drawing package of scaled plans, sections and elevations with dimensions and notes including:


  • Demolition

  • Details

  • Lighting and electrical layout

  • Door and window references

  • Kitchen and utility layout and components

  • Bathrooms layout and components


  • Building and finishes specifications

  • Structural engineer drawings and calculations

  • Building Control application. NB. your contractor would control the officer’s site attendances through to certification.

These documents would then be presented to the client whereby there is the reassurance that all aspects of the build works have been included.

The tender is then sent out (by Bliss Interiors). It’s always my preference that all contractors’ quotes are reasonably detailed with breakdown costs to ensure that all aspects of the expected build have been covered.

However, be aware with the best of intentions in any build, there are usually additional items that crop up and these should be covered in a contingency allowance (usually around 10%).

6. Building Regulations

Building regulations approval is required for most building work in the UK. This is absolutely essential, because it ensures all works are carried out to a legal level of safety and comply with relevant legislation.

  • The building inspector will issue a certificate at the end of the building works that is documentation for both insurance and future sale purposes.

  • Fees for this vary, as a guidance try Southern BCP (link below) and follow the Info & Advice:

7. Additional Services

Please be aware that for many builds, other projected services costs for tender stage, such as Structural Engineer Services, party wall awards and Thames Water Build Over may also need to be factored in, your designer or architect should advise you of these.

I hope that this hasn’t put you off your home improvement goals! There is certainly a lot involved, and it can be complex and tricky at times, but a good designer will be there to guide you through the process all the way.

If you’re organised, have a plan, are prepared to be flexible and to listen to the advice of the experts, then you will be fine and before you know it, you and your family will be enjoying your new look home and the realisation of all your home improvement dreams!

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