David Hurcombe  Planning Architect advice: designing a house extension in Blackheath, London

David met John and Rachael to look at an extension and alterations to a three storey Edwardian house close to Blackheath village and station. This was an early start I met them at 7.30am so John could be involved in the meeting before going to work.

Questions by John
Answers by David Hurcombe of Apex Architecture

J: How shall we start?
D: Lets look around the property and you explain what you want to achieve.

(We looked at the house inside and out and John explains that he wants to acheive more living space on the ground floor, a larger kitchen and to open up the space as much as possible. Ideally he wanted to add another bedroom. The house had a small back yard wall on all sides and 75% of the yard approximately slopes 1.2M above the kitchen floor at the back of the property)

J: The house is in a Conservation Area, can we extend it?
D: Yes you can extend buildings in Conservation Areas. The important thing is to respect the Conservation Area. The important feature is often the front elevation. All of the houses have retained their original features and together make a very important contribution to the Blackheath Conservation Area. A modest single storey extension to the rear should be possible.

J: What about internal alterations?
D: The Conservation Area is concerned with external appearance so the fact that the building is in a Conservation Area will not restrict the making of external alterations. If the building was Listed there would be strict controls on alteration to the historic fabric of the building, so moving walls may not be permitted.

J: We have a large bathroom on the first floor, shall we move this to the ground floor and create an extra bedroom?
D: This is possible but I don't think that it is a good plan for the only bathroom of a three storey family house to be on the ground floor. Also the bathroom would be very small, it would restrict the access to the rear garden and seriously restrict space available to the kitchen and living space on the ground floor.

J: Will the neighbours be able to object?
D: The Planners will consult your neighbours so it would be better to consult them and keep them on board with your proposals. Infact the boundary wall is quite high so it should be possible to build and extension that does not protrude above the wall.

J: Do I need the neighbour's permission to work on the boundary wall?
D: Yes because it is jointly owned by you and your neighbour. Once detailed drawings are prepared you can approch your neighbour and try to obtain a written agreement. If this does not succeed it will be necessary to put a Party Wall Agreement in place. This is normal Apex will be able to assist with this.

J: What is the next step?
D: The next step would be for us (Apex) to carry out a dimensional survey of the existing building and prepare plans and elevations. Using these drawings we will prepare sketch proposals and meet you to discuss them. Once you are happy with the scheme we will prepare drawings in sufficent detail to make a Planning Application.

J: What will you do next?
I will write to you with an outline of our discussions I will also explain the services we offer through the whole process from design to contruction and explain how we will charge,................to be continued