My planning permission is now submitted and I've a reference number and everything! So, there's about 5 weeks waiting for objections and then 3 weeks where the planners will come back with questions / start examining the submission. Then you get a preliminary approval with a 4 week cooling off period before the final official permission is granted, with their contribution bill! Once granted, I'm planning on some preliminary groundworks on the current old house to realign the driveway and access water and broadband services so I don't need to dig up that front garden again. I checked and I can issue a commencement notice but agree to only pay a portion of the contribution fee (nearly 10K) until the main build commences. I'll have water connection charges to pay also but they are changing their fee structure in the next few weeks to standardize it across the country which puts the price up unfortunately - that's how it goes!
I reviewed the final drawings presented by the Architect before they were submitted and noted that they called out some details which I wasn't expecting. Plus there was a legal letter I'd to get signed and witnessed by a solicitor to state I own the site which was a surprise and required getting a quick appointment (section 97 statutory declaration).
In case this helps someone else who are reviewing their drawings, these are the areas I called out in mine:
- PVC gutter and downpipes - I indicated I'd prefer aluminium if budget permitted. Would stating PVC prevent me from this option later? (They removed the reference to PVC)
- Timber Gates 1.5M high vs boundary wall of 1.8M - The current side gate is 1.8M so I asked them to raise it
- Concrete boundary wall - Currently all boundaries to the neighbors are concrete posts with timber fencing that slots between them.
- Overheating - I'd suggested stretching the porch overhang (zinc) over the downstairs bedroom window and assumed they'd reduced the height of that window. Turns out they just raised the height of the overhang!
- Plain black roof tile was listed - The current houses have red concrete tiles that have weathered very dark. I was wondering if we'd need to go with red tiles but this colour would be less jarring to the neighbors!
- A brick finish was listed - We're going to fake it with K-Rend so I wanted to check we weren't forced to use brick slips. Strangely enough the Architect wasn't aware / forthcoming about this technique and was discussing actual brick slips until I got talking to a K-Rend guy at a self build exhibition. I'm sometimes surprised by the little things I've picked up on this forum and doing research that I assumed the Architect would know about?!
- I asked about a Green roof on the rear roof the use of a roof overhang shade the upper windows - The response was cost, weight factors and pitch are working against a green roof here. An overhang would require structural loads from wind to be taken into account so we're sticking with louvres which are a better fit for my budget. I figured this would be the answer but better ask I say than wondering what if...
- A friend suggested removable Louvres - They are in hardwood so one concern I had was maintenance over time. Maybe stainless steel would be better. Again hardware louvres was the term used in the drawing so I wanted to check I could use a different material later. Hardwood timber should be ok though. We'll see what the options are closer to build.
- Attenuation vs rainwater - I'd seen some other planning submissions and their SUDs report favour water butts. I hope to install a rainwater harvesting tank underground if the budget permits. The drainage layout specified didn't have any provision for same but the Architect has since added in a reference to a concrete rainwater harvesting tank which I hope I can afford to install.
- Solar PV - they forgot to add the 8 panels on the south facing roof / reference them there but I asked about adding more panels out the back garden. There's a 12 square meter limit for solar panels and you can't reduce your free garden space below 50 square meters. They indicated the ground mount array could be dealt with later so I'll look into this at a later date.
Basically I read every detail on each of the documents to ensure understood them as much as I could. The docs may trigger questions from the planners at some point. The questions will incur an hourly charge by the Architect to respond to. The Stage 2 fee was paid prior to submitting the plans and they are posting me out a full set including some A1 printouts which will be nice to hang somewhere! I'm still waiting on the DWG and BER/DEAP XML files I requested so I can use these when discussing heating, ventilation etc with a few suppliers. I got an A2 preliminary BER but can increase to A1 with a few extra solar PV panels (6 x 270W in total) and we've got 8 panels allocated so we're good to go there.
The PHPP results prompted the Architect to recommend radiators over underfloor heating. I've already discussed the overheating issue. They seemed content with 5% which in the current climate context I thought was surprising. I asked them to change the climate data to London and it shot up to 13% (because I think that's where we're heading). I'm more worried about overheating when it's warm than heating when it's cold. We've since got it down to under 1% (local climate data) when allowing for opening of the roof lights. I'm happy enough with that for now. I might tinker with the glazing G values at a later date. The treated floor area is a bit misleading as it's a 108 m2 house but I still can't believe the heating load figures. I remember the architect saying there's about a 500w peak heating load for this house. I've a 2kW electric oil-less heater sitting beside me here on the old house just to warm my office/bedroom!
So, this week I'm talking to builders, timber frame suppliers and visiting one or two sites to line up reputable tradesmen I'll need down the road. I've also sent off the plans to a few companies for quotes on MVHR, Underfloor heating and timber frame prices. Then I can start to hone in on those areas and shape some choices. I received strong recommendations on one timber framed provider but haven't been able to get in touch with the key person. Hopefully they'll get in touch in due course as I'd like to visit one of their sites to understand their approach as they don't show their detailing on their website. Another company can do a turnkey solution. The only issue is they have extensive site pictures where they use two courses of concrete blocks above the foundations and sit their timber frame on top of this. I'm concerned about thermal bridging as a result but hope to visit one of their nearly completed houses to see if this is the case or not. They have some other examples of a passive slab I'm more in favour of so I may not be looking at the most applicable examples!
Brexit as always plays a part as my build commencement may be 2019 so I have to be careful about supply / support from the UK in that context. There are some excellent companies in Northern Ireland I would like to employ but I may have to reconsider those until we see what happens in March next year.
So, that's this phase almost complete. Just waiting on permission now and then can see about how to shape the next stage from there.....!