Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Introducing Our New Drawing Package...

TD Standard

We are often asked by specialist loft conversion builders if we have a 'trade price' for producing design drawings for their clients. Until now the quick answer has been 'no', but today we have launched a new drawing package exclusively for them - TD Standard.

To understand the differences between TD Standard and our usual ZEN drawing package we have produced the following guide:

ZEN Versus TD Standard drawing packages

We would always recommend that loft conversion builders provide their clients with our best drawing package - ZEN. But budget-conscious builders may feel that TD Standard fits well into their business model.

Contact us for pricing information.

My kind regards,

Anthony Lewis.
Technical Director.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

What to Do If Your Planning Application Fails...

"Even with thorough preparation and great presentation...

...planning applications don’t always go as you’d like". In this instance, check out this concise post where Mike Dade explains the options.

My kind regards,

Anthony Lewis.
Technical Director.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018


Your Loft Conversion and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 - also known as CDM 2015

The basics of what you need to know.

CDM 2015 makes a distinction between domestic clients and commercial clients, who commission construction work as part of their business.

A domestic 'client' is an individual who has construction work carried out on their home or the home of a family member, that is not done as part of any business. While CDM 2015 places client duties on commercial clients in full, such duties for domestic clients normally pass to:

  • the contractor, if it is a single contractor project, who must take on the legal duties of the client in addition to their own as the contractor. In practice, this should involve little more than what they normally do in managing health and safety risks.
  • the principal contractor, for projects with more than one contractor, who must take on the legal duties of the client in addition to their own as the principal contractor. If the domestic client has not appointed a principal contractor, the client duties must be carried out by the contractor in control of the construction work.

If a domestic client has appointed an architect (or another designer) on a project involving more than one contractor, they can ask them to manage the project and take on the client duties instead of the principal contractor. The designer then takes on the responsibilities of principal designer and must have a written agreement with the domestic client, confirming they have agreed (as the principal designer) to take on the client duties as well as their own responsibilities.

Any designer in charge of coordinating and managing a project is assumed to be the principal designer. However, if they do not have a written agreement with the domestic client to confirm they are taking on the client duties, those duties automatically pass to the principal contractor.

Our Objective

On the following pages, we provide a summary and diagram to help you better understand your role within the CDM 2015. Below are links to several sources of information which you may find helpful.

You can watch a short video clip here:

or view the help pages of the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) site here:

3rd Storey Technical Drawings accepts projects on the basis of being the non-appointed ‘Principle Designer’. In other words, under the CDM 2015, your duties as the ‘Client’ are transferred to the ‘Principle Contractor’ (builder) when building work commences. We comply with our duties of the CDM 2015 as Principle Designer up until building work commences by preparing the Health & Safety File ‘HSF’ ready for handover to you and your Principle Contractor. Please refer to the diagram below to see the role we play on your loft conversion project under the CDM 2015.

Remember: if you have any queries then please don't delay calling us or your chosen building contractor to discuss. We would be pleased to help.

My kind regards,

Anthony Lewis.
Technical Director.


Your Loft Conversion and the Planning Application Process

Our procedure for submitting your planning application can be separated into 6 key stages as outlined below. 

Once submitted, how your council processes your planning application is largely governed by legislation and is designed to allow the input of expert and interested parties in the decision-making process. 

The timescale for most planning applications is 8 weeks.

Step 1 – Pre-application paperwork

We will pre-fill the Planning application forms on your behalf and send them to you for your approval prior to submission. We will also send an ordnance map showing your property boundaries for you to check and approve. Let us know if you have any queries with the pre-application paperwork.

Step 2 – Application and validation

We will submit your planning application using the government’s online Planning Portal. Once submitted, the Planning Portal forwards the application to your local council. At this time we provide a link that enables you to send payment of the planning fee directly to your council.

The council will check your application to ensure all documentation is correct (any missing information - including fees - will be requested before processing can start). Once completed, your application will be referred to as ‘validated’ and assigned to a Planning Officer.

Step 3 - Consultation and publicity

Where appropriate the council will send out ‘consultation letters’ to your neighbours and, where applicable, various bodies to obtain their expert view.

Others can view plans online. During the 21 day consultation period anyone can comment on your application.

Step 4 – Site visit and assessment

Your property (the ‘site’) is inspected by the Planning Officer. Where relevant, the Officer will also gather any site-specific information such as photographs.

Following this, the Planning Officer will assess your application taking into account planning policies, consultation responses and public representations.

Step 5 - Officer Report

The Planning Officer will produce a report outlining their recommendation as to whether planning consent can be granted. The officer report is sent to the person - or body - authorised to make a formal decision. The report will include all of the relevant facts relating to the application in order to inform the decision maker.

Step 6 - Decision

A decision is taken on the application by the appropriate person or body. With most ‘Lawful Development (proposed use)’ applications, senior officers who have delegated authority from the Planning Committee normally make decisions under what’s known as ‘delegated powers’. This means that they can make the decision without going to the relevant committee.

Remember: if you have any queries then please don't delay calling us or your chosen building contractor to discuss. We would be pleased to help.

My kind regards,

Anthony Lewis.
Technical Director.


Your Loft Conversion and the Party Wall etc Act 1996

Please read this helpsheet today. Any delay in doing so may harm your chances of having your loft conversion built on time and on budget. You will also need to download and read the government explanatory booklet at -

What you need to do now.

Within the next 7 days visit each neighbour with whom you share a party wall and:

  • Inform them of your loft conversion project and that you have appointed a builder and architect.
  • Let them know that they can view the design drawings at a very early stage.
  • Ask for an email address where the design drawings can be sent. Explain that your architectural designer will forward the first draft of the design drawings to them along with the government explanatory booklet on the Party Wall etc Act 1996.

What you need to do after receiving your draft design drawings.

Within the next 7 days visit each of your neighbours once again and:

  • Ask if they have had the opportunity to look through the draft design drawings.
  • Ask if they would be happy to agree ‘party wall matters’ using the standard example letters from the government booklet.
  • If they are unsure, offer to include photos and a written description of the condition of the shared party wall to accompany the standard letter.
  • If they agree then you must act promptly by sending them the standard letter, delivered by hand, within the next 2-3 days, and, if you have offered, including photos and written description.
  • If they do not want to use the standard letters then you must immediately inform both the architectural designer and your building contractor whom will advise you further. The start date for the building work will possibly need to be rescheduled.

A Party wall 'agreement' is needed from any neighbour with whom you share a party wall. An agreement must be in place at least 2 months prior to the building of your loft conversion.

The government provide a booklet that explains the Party Wall etc Act 1996 and what your responsibilities are. The booklet also provides example letters for you use as a basis for obtaining ‘party wall agreement’ with your neighbours. We will pre-fill a copy of the relevant example letter from the booklet for you to use as a guide.

While informal agreements using these example letters are overwhelmingly the norm, you will need to allow for the possibility of third party fees from a Party Wall Surveyor for a formal 'award' to be drawn up. In this event please contact us and we will suggest a specialist.

Remember: if you have any queries then please don't delay calling us or your chosen building contractor to discuss. We would be pleased to help.

My kind regards,

Anthony Lewis.
Technical Director.