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  1. I've just received my completion certificate for the extension that was built here (praise be!!!) but it hasn't been without its challenges as we didn't 'follow the rules'. I will note the issues I had below just to provide some hopefully useful info to others about the mess you can get in if you don't follow process. We didn't set out to deliberately ignore process but it ended up being the case. The background was that we purchased the plot (in Scotland) complete with planning permission and building warrant for this house. The PP and building warrant covered 2 houses one of which was already built and sold, and the builder sold us the 2nd plot complete with foundations. Once we bought it my husband wanted to change the house style slightly which included adding an extra single storey room at the back of the house, but the planners told him that they wouldn't allow it even though it would be allowed under permitted development once the house was built. So we made some changes to the internal layout only and the building warrant covering both houses was swapped into my husband's name. The timber frame company was asked to design the house to make it easy to add the extension at a later date so for example French doors were put in that could be moved to the new external access later, and a double door sized insulated 'panel' was put in that allowed a new internal door to be added easily later as it just required blocks to be removed and the panel removed. When the groundworks were being done my husband got the foundations for the new room laid and these were used as a 'patio' initially. The plan was that the main house would be signed off and then we would apply for a warrant for the extension. When my husband got sick he decided that he would get the extension built no matter what despite the main build not being signed off, and no attempt at reasoning with him would change his mind. He told me to apply for the warrant retrospectively later on but I’m sure he didn’t envisage that this would cause me as many issues as it turned out. So builders came out and added the single storey room at the back of the house . The only part of the build that he had no input to. His intention was that the racing simulator would be housed in it but that's still sitting in the garage ....... After he died and I finally got my head around completing the outstanding elements of the main build to allow the completion certificate to be issued I admitted to the council that there was an extra room here. I was told to submit a new warrant application which I did but it was then refused (although they still took the 500 quid) as there was already a warrant in place that wasn't satisfied and there couldn't be 2 warrants running. The council decided to make it an amendment to the existing warrant and although both this house and next door had SER certificates and form Qs issued for the main builds I was asked to obtain a new SER certificate from scratch for my house to factor in the new room. I tried to engage the original structural engineer who had provided the SER certificate and Form Q but he had left the scheme / industry and couldn't be located. I was then advised by a local SE to engage the SE who had been engaged by the timber frame company as at least they wouldn't be starting from scratch. However the SE said that the SER scheme didn't allow them to do what the council was asking. I've included some of the emails below as they tell the story better than I could articulate it. Here is the email the council sent me stating that the SE certificate was only required for my own house: It is worth pointing out that you only require a new SER certificate for your house including the extension and not the neighbouring plot. The neighbouring plot will be dealt with separately. The SE said that this was not possible and asked the council to 'turn a blind eye to the extension' in order to allow the main house to be signed off. The council said that they were unable to do this so here is the email the SE sent to the SER scheme. We have been approached by a Client wishing us to take over the SER from another SER Engineer. The original SER Engineer is no longer on the system seems to have left the engineering trade. Normally we would seek confirmation from the original SER Engineer that they were happy for us to take over the responsibility for their SER before we accept the appointment. In this case this is not possible. The matter is further complicated by the following facts; . There are 2 houses on the site covered by the same warrant reference. House 1 is built and awaiting a completion certificate. This cannot be provided until the form Q for the full SER has been provided to building control. The Form Q needs to be signed by the original SER Engineer. House 2 carried out additional works and applied for a warrant during construction. Their warrant application needs an amended SER to cover the additional works. . The amended SER needs to be an amendment of the original SER if it is all covered under the original Warrant. . The changes to the house include the introduction of a sunroom to the rear of the property. . Our understanding is that if we took on the SER we would; Need to take responsibility for both houses as there should only be one SER per warrant application; We would need carry out site investigations to determine how to design the foundations as there is no available information. This will mean carrying out investigations in House 1 which is complete and house 2; And we would need to carry out a full review of the designs for both houses amending the SER to suit the changes. Both houses have different kit suppliers and different calculations to be reviewed. It has been suggested by the Council that a new SER could be carried out for House 2 only. We believe this would be contrary to the SER system but any advice on this would be appreciated. We are happy to take on the project but we need to be in line with your recommendations. And the SER scheme's reply: We have considered your query and you are correct in saying that to provide a certificate which covers the design of house 2 only would be contrary to the requirements of the scheme as they are currently written. The Scheme Guide says in 4.6.15: 4.6.15 In exceptional circumstances this may not be possible (e.g. if for any reason the Certifier of the initial stages of the work is no longer available). In this eventuality the Certifier of the later works must not sign the relevant design certificate(s) unless and until they have satisfied themselves of the adequacy of all of the preceding stages of the work and the mutual compatibility of the various stages of the works. We realise that this requirement is particularly onerous in situations such as you have described and we are in dialogue with Building Standards Division to see if they would accept a revised form of wording. Until we hear back from BSD we are unable to offer any further advice. I do apologise for the delay in response to this query. The council repeatedly told me that the only needed an SER for my house and not next door, but also that the SER scheme was 'not very flexible'. My neighbours were also less than impressed that the SE wanted to dig up their foundations as their garden has all been landscaped etc. and they've lived there since 2008. And the costs mentioned to prepare 2 SER certificates for 2 large houses from scratch weren’t insignificant either. Weeks passed with no news from the SER scheme (I doubt these things ever resolve quickly), and the council threatened to cancel the warrant if things didn't resolve soon. I was left caught in the middle of a paperwork nightmare with seemingly no way of influencing the outcome. If I had found BH while this was going on I might have at least felt supported but it was just me caught in the middle of a nightmare at the time. Then suddenly out of the blue the council phoned me and said that they would treat the extension as a separate warrant (which is what the SE asked them to do from the get go). Here is their email to me. Further to our telephone conversation we have reviewed the file and feel that we can justify that the original warrant openings into where the extension is built was covered by the original engineer and therefore can issue completion on xx/xx/xxxxxx once the snagging items including the 2nd drain are completed. This leaves the extension which has been applied for as an amendment xx/xxxxx/xxx can be changed to a new warrant application (ALTEXT) For which we require a SER certificate to cover the extension only. I spoke to XXX who says that this should be able to be done by the end of the year for which we extend the application deadline too. The other issue is that the warrant XX/XXXXX/XXXXX is due to expire at the end of the month, unless the drain test can be arranged before then, we will require a further extension of £100 fee. So suddenly I had a way forward and by some miracle was able to get a plumber out to carry out the second drain test (the only thing still outstanding) within the 7 day deadline and the main house was finally signed off. Then the SER certificate for the extension was finally issued (but the SE company forgot to sign it hence the comment in the email below) and the council came and carried out the completion inspection and only required some minor things to be done as per the email below. Further to the inspection this morning I note the following: 1. The roof construction differs from the submitted drawings as it has traditional sarking boards and a breather membrane in lieu of OSB and roof ventilators. 2. The windows are not fitted with trickle vents – I appreciate the rest of the house has a whole house ventilation system, however there is no evidence this is connected to the sun room, therefore trickle vents will need to be fitted retrospectively. 3. There is an additional step to the patio door landing. 4. The signed SER is required. If you confirm by email that you are happy for me to amend the drawings to take account of items 1 and 3 I will do this for you and if we receive the signed SER certificate that will enable us to approve and issue the building warrant. Upon receipt of this you will need to apply for the completion certificate and I will need to check the trickle vents have been installed. So they even offered to make the changes on the drawings for me which was great. I think they just wanted to see the back of me in truth! . So all a bit of a saga and a warning not to step outside of process too much, or at least understand the possible consequences of doing so! I can imagine my hubby looking down saying it was 'character building'!
  2. Hi All, To have my completion certificate issued I’ve been asked by the surveyor to submit an amendment for some decking that I have built, what he is looking for is a “decking specification” eg what is it made of, how many supports etc. Has as anyone submitted a decking specification before and therefore may have a template/format that I could follow? I’ve done a fair bit of googling with no luck. Unsure if they expect this to be presented in a particular way or if I can just draw up a spec on a word doc? Any experience or advice would be appreciated. Thanks.
  3. Hi folks, Been a while since I last posted on here...things are progressing VERY slowly We are at the stage of getting our Building Warrant ready for submission to the local authorities for approval (more like rejection and weeks of pain if its anything like the planning process!). However we are seriously getting confused with the process that needs to be followed in order to get everything in place for submitting our building warrant. We have our architect who has now finalised our drawings to which we are now happy with, this was the easy bit. Now from this stage I am of the understanding (please correct me if im wrong) that the following needs to be done: Plans are given to structural engineer (chosen by us the clients) to whom does all the detailed calculations in relation to the building structure. SAP calculations are done by another company (or SE?) from structural engineers final drawings. Submission to Building Control Now these stages are all done by other people, this might sound strange but what I would like to know is what should WE be doing as the clients. Given this is a completely new venture for us and have had no experience in building before and having a great attention to detail like myself I hate not knowing exactly what I should be doing! At this stage should we be set on a timber frame supplier by this point? (quoted etc - even though we do not have building warrant drawings approved?) I was under the impression that you go to timber frame suppliers / builders when you are armed with nice approved building warrant drawings, not before. Dont get me wrong we have already discussed very vaguely with a timber frame supplier but this was before planning was approved. Should we be set on exactly which heating system we require? And is this required for heat loss / SE calculations in the building warrant phase? Mortage - Again we have no Building Warrant which details projected costings therefore we cannot proceed very far on the mortgage front? I hate pestering our architect - the reason why im asking you helpful folks on here! I guess we just need some advice from people who may have been in our position before and know what it feels like!