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Beware cheap building plans – they may be false economy !

We have recently undertaken a couple of domestic scale architectural projects where our clients had previously had plans done ‘just for planning’ but we ended up having to start again and re-draw them.

In both cases, the people had engaged somebody to prepare drawings for them to get them through the planning application stage and they had obtained this element of the design project for a low cost.  However, their designer in each case was unwilling/unable to progress matters further through to detailing the project for an application for Building Regulations Consent or beyond that to the preparation of a specification, tendering and contract administration.

When we became involved, we found that one of the projects had elements of the design that would not comply with the Building Regulations, and so could not be built !  The other one would have caused a legal rights of light injury to the neighbour which could have resulted in an injunction to prevent construction or, if already built by that stage, could have required demolition of the building, with, of course, potentially significant associated legal costs.

In both cases, we ended up re-measuring, re-drawing and partially re-designing the projects.

A further consideration is that neither of these designers drawing the plans (in effect on their ‘kitchen tables’) seemingly had professional indemnity insurance.

Both of these cases proved to be false economy for our clients because, despite obtaining planning permission based upon the original basic drawings, they ended up with additional costs for re-measuring and re-drawing before there could be any progression of the  scheme.  In both cases, there were also unnecessary associated delays to their projects.

In conclusion, we recommend full consideration of whether the cheap offer to draw plans for that extension really is good value after all – if they can’t or won’t take matters further beyond planning permission stage then I would suggest caution. Also, do they have professional indemnity insurance to provide you with some reassurance that they are covered if they get something wrong ?  For example, getting it wrong from a rights of light point of view can be extremely costly !

Finally, regarding the PI insurance, it is worth bearing in mind that this does not necessarily apply just to somebody doing the odd set of drawings for applications for planning permission – alarmingly, we do know of at least a small number of sole practitioner professional designers practising without PI insurance, presumably simply to keep down their overheads – but contrary to the requirements of their professional body and at a great risk to their clients !

For details of the Professional Surrey Architectural Services offered by Adapt Architecture, please call us or, alternatively, visit the architectural page of our website at http://www.adaptarchitecture.co.uk/

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