Planning, Regulations, Extensions and Lofts – Expert advice for your building dream needs from LLP


We all have dreams of extending our house, whether it be a loft conversion, home extension or even a complete remodel.  To most of us the thought of going ahead with this kind of work, even though exciting, can also be very daunting.  Who do you use? Can you trust the builder? Planning permission? Jargon? Compliant? Ahhhh

Whilst at Grand Designs Live we met the guys from London Bespoke Builders & Lofts. Martin told us,

“Most people don’t appreciate how simple a loft conversion or home extension can be, if done correctly. Often planning permission is not needed, but even if it is, this isn’t necessarily a deterrent to undertake such projects. The key on all aspects of home improvements of this nature is to get correct, factual and professional advice. Too often we hear anecdotal comments diluted from user to user which results in incorrect and misleading advice being taken as fact.”

Martin was keen to share advice, so never one to miss an opportunity, we thought we would ask some key questions:


There has been a lot in the news recently about planning permissions and extensions and we don’t know about you, but we find it very confusing. So Martin,

Do I need planning permission (PP)? “Your local authority will advise whether PP is required for your project or you if are able to undertake the works under your Permitted Rights to Develop (PD).”

What are PD? “These are best explained via  This is an excellent site where you can research the most common home improvements and be given a good grounding on the requirements to meet approvals.”

What about building regulations? “All improvements of this nature will require building regulations approval regardless of whether planning permission is required. This is key, as unless you receive a completion certificate from the Building Inspector, the improvements won’t be legally recognised, essential when trying to re-sell your property.”

How much will it cost? “You need to consider the worth of this quotation very carefully. If you only seek an approximation and understand the limitations of such a value, then all is well and good. If you base any funding or realistic conversion to reality then be aware. Until plans are drawn and building control approval for the project (that is the materials content/component) are agreed, any figure quoted will not be rigid and may give you a false understanding of the actual costs involved.”

“We only ever give formal quotes, which translate into a contractual price if the client proceeds once we have plans and building control approval. We cannot stress enough that this is the only way to avoid paying ‘extras’ that are not derived from your change of mind.”

Do I need an architect? “No, there is no formal or legal requirement to use an architect and there are several options available to you. We advise if your project is complex and the design brief is quite contemporary then go the route of a RIBA (Royal institute of British Architects) charted architect.”

“If your project is a standard build, whether a dormer roof conversion or home extension, often the most cost effective route will be to engage a technical planner. Their fees can be over £1000.00 less than architects but still afford the client all necessary skills and experience to provide planning and/or building control plans and building control constructions notes.”

How long will it take? “Most domestic loft conversion takes between 6 and 10 weeks, but will depend on the style, size and location (access) of you home. Extensions can be between 6 and 15 weeks depending if they are single storey or two. We always provide a detailed weekly programme with any quotation illustrating the build time for your project.”

Will there be any extra costs? “No, not unless you wish to add to the agreed specification. If we price your project from plans and building control approved construction notes, there will be no deviation in cost.”

“We would seek to obtain all local authority or third party disbarments prior to any start, so you were fully aware of all fees applicable to build your project.”

So, who are Martin and Jamie from London Bespoke Builders and Lofts? We decided to be nosey, and ask them a few more questions!

How and when did you start being a builder? Jamie starts, ” I started when I was sixteen and undertook an apprenticeship for 3 years.” And Martin?, “I started in my twenties after gaining my technical qualifications.”
We noticed on their Grand Designs Live stand some well known logos from some homes TV programmes, so how had they got involved in TV work?
“We saw an advert in Selco builders merchants for the ITV show 60 Minute Make Over”, replies Jamie, Martin adds “Jamie does the TV work and has been involved in over 150 shows of 60 Minute Make Over, Surprise, Surprise and Junk the Junk (featured on daytime ITV show This Morning).”
How different is working for a TV programme than working specially for a client?
“TV is less personal, we have no project management and the works / projects are much smaller.”
What tips can you offer someone starting in the building industry today?
“Ensure you have good knowledge of the services you want to offer, don’t be afraid to say no and refer a client to someone else if their project is out of your skill set. Reputation is everything!”
What are your plans for the Future of the Business?
“Continued growth but still maintaining full managerial control of our projects. We have a few new build homes projects lined up so full NHBC accreditation will be key.”

What fantastic advice and we have certainly made some notes for the future.   Before we left them to enjoy the rest of the day,  was there any further advice that we should remember before contracting a builder? “Get references and check them.  Our past and current clients are our best means of advertising. They are able to discuss and show you their project to help you best decide on who to engage for your project.”

London Bespoke Builders and Lofts


A co-promotion with A Passion for Homes

CLICK HERE to go to the main A Passion for Homes website…

…for articles, pictures and stories on interior design, dream homes, products, housey celebrity interviews, estate agent search facility and show home search facility and more! This month includes Kirstie Allsopp, Heal’s and A Shot in the Dark, Habitat and coastal interior design.

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