What you need to know about working out your timeline for a build project.

Just as you wouldn't plan any other major event in your life without a timeline, the same applies to building an extension or undertaking major house renovations. Being unrealistic with your deadline will more likely result in budget overruns and fall outs with the builder than the budget itself. So where do you start? Ive put below in sequence how long each stage takes from cradle to grave so you can start to understand when you might be enjoying your new open plan kitchen. I have based this on a rear two storey extension that requires planning permission but is not Listed or in a Conservation area and the property is no larger than 4 beds.


Week 1 - Find 3 Architects and send out enquires.

Week 2 - Architects have hopefully replied and arranged a site visit.

Week 3- Architects will go away and think about the fee proposal and brief. You should expect this back within 2-5 days.

Week 4 - Compare fees and general feeling about Architects. Agree to appoint one. Make sure the Architect you have appointed has sent, and you have signed, their appointment documents as this is a ARB & RIBA requirement.

Week 5/6 - Measured survey and initial drawings

(Note : if your scheme is relatively straightforward then the Architect will most likely do this himself. If you have a complicated scheme and a very large property then I advise you to get a professional survey done in Week 1. )

Week 7.- There seems to be an expectation from clients that the moment you have appointed your Architect that drawings will straight away appear. Im sorry to say it doesn't really work like that. The initial design stage is critical and not one that should be rushed. The first drawings are our first introduction to you that we have understood your brief, to display our creativity and to prove our design worth. I always hand draw as well in those first design stages as it helps me connect with the design. It is worth hanging on. Note: If it been over 3 weeks and you have heard nothing back then feel free to nag!

Week 8-10 - By week 10 you should certainly be getting closer to that finished design and it might be just some small tweaks left. Do not be tempted to get into the detail of how the cupboard door opens to the airing cupboard if it doesn't impact the external appearance. Remember the Architect is trying to get you lodged for Planning Permission and every call you make about cupboard doors and shelves under the stairs is prolonging the time it takes to get it submitted. All you need to be concerned with at this time is that the general internal arrangement is right so that the external appearance, which is basically what you are requiring permission for is fixed.

Week 11 - Submission to the planning department. It is unlikely that the Architect will be paying your planning fees so be ready to click the pay button when you get the email. If you miss this and don't pay it for 3 weeks the Application is void and you have to start again.

Week 12 - Validation. Your Architect will receive a validation notice and you will be informed about the notices etc, that need to go up in the Public realm.

Week 13-20, We wait. For 8 Weeks. I would love to be more informative than that but we simply wait. You will probably check the planning site every day for an update, have a meltdown because your neighbour doesn't like aluminium windows and has objected, and you will feel the urge to contact your Architect daily to see if they know anything more but it's unlikely we will. It's more likely we are waiting. If there is a problem that needs your input then the Architect will contact you and you need to be prepared that you might have to compromise on size or style moderately to achieve permission. And then hopefully, with a fairly trouble free process, and what seems likely a millennium you have your permission. Yay!

Week 21 - Next steps. If you are keen to keep the momentum going then you need to start on the building package. Ill take you through the traditional steps you would go through if you went for tender and you were relying wholly on your Architect to guide you through to the end. So give your architect the go ahead for Stage 4 - Technical Drawings. If they haven't already given you a fee proposal for that part then request it asap.

Week 22-26 - Preparation of Construction drawings and meetings with the Architect to talk Technical details.... such as that cupboard door to the laundry. Your Architect in this time should also be talking to prospective tenderers to check their capacity if they go for the tender.

Week 27-31 - Out to tender - this is a 4 week process normally and involves burly builders visiting your home and usually telling you you need a new boiler, consumer unit, loft insulation and downstairs bathroom. Hopefully the Architect has already apprised you of this and so just nod. If you are nervous about meeting unknown builders in your home, ask your Architect to come along. I do this as part of my fee but not all Architects do so check first.

Week 32 - Tender returns. You will most likely be horrified, your Architect will want to shrink into a ball because its come in over budget by 20,30,70 grand. Just do not panic, its perfectly normal and it just needs a review. Perhaps you don't have the marble staircase after all, nothing wrong with softwood! This process might take slightly longer than a week but I will give it a week as in the budget is almost there, you really liked the builder you met and contracts are being drawn up as we speak.

Week 33 - Contracts signed, start dates confirmed, bank loans sorted & Building regulation application submitted. For the purpose of this blog, Ill carry on to Week 34 but the reality is you might be two / three weeks away from starting so remember to add that into your plan!

Week 34 - Start on site. I would expect a project of around 200 sqm to take about 24 weeks depending on the level of finish required. This would take our end date to Week 58.

Week 58 - Start planning new kitchen party!


A note to add to the above. Once you have moved into the space there are a number of procedures in place to protect you. Your Architect will have advised you fairly early on about them but to be aware the contract will end once the defects period has been finished and the Final Certificate issued. This can range from 3, 6 or 12 months depending on the complexity of the project.


So lets review. It's March 26th 2019 today. Judging by that time line, which doesn't give a huge amount of room for planning refusals, tenderers dropping out etc, you would be your two storey extension on the 5th May 2020. Now ask yourself, is that anywhere near where you were thinking?


I can not stress the importance of how being realistic with the timeline can make this process so less stressful. You can't plan for everything in architecture because, to be fair, its pretty fluid but you can have a good go. This timeline can obviously be considerably shortened if you already have an architect planned, you know the builder who is doing the work and even more so if the work you do is permitted development cutting out the entire planning phase.


Whichever way you go, good luck!

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