Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use A Room At The Top?

We specialise in designing quality and highly functional buildings and internal spaces that enhance people’s lives. Our aim is to create designs that meet your requirements, whilst at the same time ensuring that all planning and building regulations are fully adhered to. We want you to be involved in the design process and be totally satisfied with the final designs.

Ultimately, we recognise the importance of your investment and will strive to achieve maximum added value throughout both the design and construction processes.

Do you charge for an initial consultation?

No. We believe that honest and knowledgeable advice is essential for clients to make an informed decision on whether or not to proceed with a proposed scheme.

Our initial meeting will usually include a detailed discussion on the various design options, advice on planning matters, building costs and construction in general.

Depending on the nature of work being considered, we may then be able to provide some outline sketch designs and further preliminary advice in order to assess the feasibility of the proposals.

What happens during the initial visit?

During the initial visit we will spend time discussing your proposals and finding out what you want to achieve. We will discuss the options that you have available along with the feasibility and implications of these options.

The objective of the initial visit is to make sure you are fully informed and in the best position possible to make a decision and move forward.

Will you provide a fee quotation at the initial meeting?

No. We generally prefer some additional time to consider the proposals and put together an all inclusive fee quotation – which will include our survey & design fee and will also clearly list all other associated costs including planning, building regulations and structural engineers fees.

We will however be able to provide indicative costs, based on similar previous projects.

What happens after we accept the fee quotation?

Once you have accepted our fee quotation for the works, we will return to your property and carry out a full measurement and photographic survey. This information, together with a detailed brief of your design requirements will enable us to commence with the design process.

The amount of time required for the survey will obviously be dependent on the size, nature and complexity of the existing building. Typically, a single project on one level may take 4-5 hours. A more complex project with more than one element, such as an extension and a loft conversion, may take a full day.

The building survey and all associated costs will have been included in the previously agreed fee quotation.

Do we see the drawings before they are submitted for approval?

Yes. This is one of our key considerations to ensure client satisfaction. In most cases we will develop the drawings to a certain level, and then provide an opportunity for you to review the proposals and make necessary changes, within reason. This is an essential part of the process, and ensures you retain control. Ultimately, we want to give you - what you want.

What is planning permission?

For domestic properties, planning consent relates to changes in the appearance or use of buildings such as an extension to a house, or a conversion of a house into flats.

Planning can be one of the main hurdles to clear when thinking about making changes to your home and needs to be given consideration from the start. It may be possible that your project can be done within permitted development – we will be able to advise you of this during your initial visit.

The granting of Planning Permission cannot be guaranteed since it depends upon many factors, some of which can’t be controlled.

Will consent be automatic if a neighbour has a similar scheme?

A common misconception is that because other houses in the street have, for instance, roof extensions, this will automatically mean that yours will be allowed. This is not always the case as planning policy does change over time. We will be able to give you advice relating to current planning policy that will help develop the design solution.

What is permitted development?

New regulations came into effect from 1st October 2008, relating to permitted development and certain building work not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to numerous limits and conditions.

For small extensions, alterations and loft conversions, your proposals may fall within your Permitted Development Rights which means that planning permission will not be necessary.

It may be necessary however, to acquire a ‘Certificate of Lawful Development’ for certain works. We can provide advice regarding this matter.

Are there different planning rules for a listed building?

Buildings of particular architectural interest are often officially ‘Listed’ and thereby protected. Some residential buildings are listed Grade 2 which means that all alterations (not just those to the outside or original parts) have to be approved under Listed Building Consent. Making a Listed Building Consent application is similar to making a planning application - but with a few differences.

Are there different planning rules for a conservation area?

Living in a conservation area usually means that changes to the external appearance of your building will be a particularly sensitive issue. If Conservation Area Consent is required, we will able to make this application on your behalf.

What if planning permission is likely to be refused?

We will try and recommend a proposal to amend the application that will be more acceptable to the Planners. This may involve withdrawing the application, revising it and resubmitting it under the same application fee.

What is Building Regulation Approval?

The Building Regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to protect the safety and health of people in or about those buildings. They cover many areas such as structure, fire escape, drainage, ventilation, insulation, etc and facilities for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.

The regulations can often seem unreasonable, but they are all there for good reasons.

What is a party wall agreement?

It is very common with alterations to domestic buildings (even for detached houses) that action under the Party Wall legislation will be necessary. Works that affect a wall, fence or any part of your neighbour's structure, within certain specified distances will require notification to adjoining owners in accordance with the Party Wall Act 1996. This notification can be a complicated procedure and can take a good deal of time. We will be able to advise and guide you through this process.

Can you tell me exactly how much my Project is going to cost?

Yes. All of our quotations are fixed. You will pay the price as it is printed on the quotation. We will enter into a contract which is signed by all parties. The cost of the project will only change if you request additional works.

Do you deal with structural calculations?

Yes. We have a number of structural engineers, who we deal with on a regular basis. We will obtain structural calculations and specifications (which are required for building regulations approval) and add this information onto our drawings. An indicative engineer’s fee will have been provided in the previously provided fee quotation, if relevant.

What about Project Management of the construction process?

We organise and manage the whole construction process in a strategic and stream–lined manner. This will include preparation of specifications, tender documents, contracts, and other documents relevant to the size and nature of the project.

Ultimately, we want to ensure that your project is built to the required standard of workmanship, stays within the agreed budget and is completed in accordance with the programme of work schedule.

We attend one project at a time so all of our team are working on your site from start to finish. We do not move onto other projects until you are satisfied with the completion.

We don’t like problems – we like solutions!

FMB / Velux® / European Builders Confederation
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