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A Guide to Commercial Buildings

What is a commercial building used for?

A commercial property is a space that allows you to use the space for commercial activities such as food service, retail or any other business. Commercial buildings have been split into classifications designated into class A, B and C. 

Class A buildings are usually newer construction properties with better amenities and infrastructure. However, this could be an older building that has been remodelled. Usually located in a popular area. 

Class B buildings are maintained and well managed. Not always a new build but can be easily transformed by some renovations. 

Class C buildings are often old properties, located in unbeneficial areas that are less maintained. There are building tends to need more work done. Landlords will charge less due to the work needing to be done. 

Classifications  

Classifications for each building:

A1 – shops such as:  

  • Retail (not hot food) 
  • Post office 
  • Hairdressing 

A2 – Professional services 

  • Banks 
  • Health and medical services 

A3 – Food and Drink  

  • Cafes  
  • Restaurants   
  • Anything that serves hot food 

A4 – Drinking establishments  

  • Bars 
  • Wine bars  

B1 – Business 

B8 – Storage and Distribution  

  • Wholesale warehouse 
  • Distribution centre  
  • Repositories 

C1 – Hotels  

  • Hotels  
  • Guest homes  

C2 – Residential institutions  

  • Boarding schools 
  • Training centre 
  • Hospitals  
  • Nursing homes  

Do I need planning permission?  

Yes, you do, it is essential that you have planning permission for commercial buildings.

When do you need commercial planning permission? 

You will definitely need to have planning permission if you intend to: 

  • Add an extension or large-scale renovation. 
  • Build a new property. 
  • Change the use of the building. For example, changing the use from commercial to residential or residential to commercial. 

Do I need Planning permission if I work from home? 

Using space in your home will not usually need planning permission. However, you should get planning permission if: 

  • Your business is unusual to be in a residential area. 
  • Your employees work from your home. (But are not occupants) 
  • The number of customers visiting your home increases. 
  • Your business could disturb your neighbours. 

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Design and Inspiration

Everything You Need to Know About Installing a Balcony

How much does it cost to add a Balcony? 

Depending on the complexity of the job would depend on the price. The estimated price to installing a balcony would vary between £1,500 – £5,500. 

The estimated cost would cover: 

  • Size
  • Design  
  • Labourer costs 
  • Material costs 
  • How complex the job is. 

Types of balconies  

  • Stacked – The most popular and common. Easy to install. 
  • Juliet/Faux – This is a faux balcony that may contain a small standing area but usually does not. A Juliet balcony contains a balustrade connection to the building without flooring to walk on. 
  • Hung – This structure is made out of stainless-steel cables that are fixed on the sides of the structure. These balconies are less common but have great strength. 
  • Cantilevered – This structure can be made from concrete, steel or timber. This type of project needs to be planned accordingly as the job is quite complex. 
  • Mezzanine – They have a large decking area with railing. This structure gives you more space. 

Do I need planning permission to install a balcony? 

If your home is in a conservation area or your property is listed you must apply for planning permission. 

In other cases, if your balcony is smaller that 300mm you may not have to seek planning permission but it is always best to do so. When submitting your planning application form expect to pay a fee. 

Installing a Juliet/Faux balcony means you won’t have to apply for planning permission, unless you decide to add flooring to walk on and then you must. 

Will it raise my house value? 

There are no guarantees that this will raise the price value, but they have been known the raise the value up to 12%. 

What are balconies used for? 

Balconies are used for extras space, kind of like an outdoor room. Many people like to use their balcony like a garden. For example adding a barbecue or flowers onto it. Others like to use their balcony to admire the views the structure allows them to see and relax on it. 

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Extensions, House Extension

The Ultimate Beginners Guide To Ground Floor Flat Extensions

Improving your home is becoming very popular among homeowners who are looking for more space. This is because with property prices increasing, it is becoming more expensive to move houses. If you own a ground floor flat it can be greatly improved by a bit of construction work.  

Ownership of the flat –  

Firstly, if you are a leaseholder and want to commence works on the property, you must get freeholder consent before you can carry out any internal or proposed building extensions.  

The lease plans will tell you whether the demised premises space is occupied under a lease contract. This includes the garden that comes with the flat, or whether you simply have permission to use it. Some leases don’t allow any construction to take place in the garden, so make sure you check.  

Do you need planning permission?  

Before going into the planning process, it’s a good idea to know what you are trying to gain from the proposed space.   

When adding an extension onto a ground floor flat, planning permission is a must. However, with the right architects by your side, this doesn’t have to be stressful. 

To add an extension to your flat you must apply for planning permission. If your flat is a listed building it is likely that you will need listed building consent. You should contact your local planning authority for advice before you start work. 

Adding work to a listed building that affects the historical character without consent is a criminal offense. 

However, if you are using an architect, they will be the best people to guide and advise you through the planning process.  

Planning your design for the flat extension –  

Once your planning is approved it is a good idea to plan and understand exactly what you require to do with the new space. Do you want to extend the kitchen? Open up the living room? Or create another bedroom?  

It is also important to play around with the space and work out the best layout for the extension. A popular element many homeowners like to include is natural daylight. So, to increase the property value and aesthetic of the home you should think about including skylights and bi-folding doors.  

Lewisham basement flat extension - JNJ Building Solutions

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Conversions, Extensions

Planning A Basement Extension/ Conversion: Here’s What You Should Know

If you are in need of extra space but aren’t in a position to move house or extend outwards or upwards, there is another way. You could consider a basement conversion or an extension.  

What is a basement extension? 

A basement can be a great way to expand your living space by creating an extra bedroom, lounge, office, or gym. Basements are slowly becoming more popular in the UK. As people look for more space and don’t have the ability to extend wider, longer, or higher.  

What is a basement conversion? 

A basement conversion is a process of changing the space into an inhabitable room.  

There are three ways of building a basement extension:  

  • Conversion or refurbishment of the existing one 
  • Adding a basement to an existing property – a good option for when there’s no other way to gain extra space.  
  • Building a new basement as part of a new house build. 

Do basement conversions/ extensions need planning permission?  

You should speak to your local planning authority and building control department before you start any work. To make sure you know what permission is required. 

If you are converting an existing basement and are not making any changes to the external appearance of the building, you are unlikely to need planning permission. Whereas, if you are creating more room or if you are making changes to the external appearance of the property by adding a light well, then you are likely to need planning permission.  

Advantages basements can provide –  

In some parts of the UK especially London, where property values are at a premium, many people are turning to conversions and extensions. Another advantage is that you can create a new floor that can be used in different ways. 

Some more practical advantages are: 

  • Sun tunnels – these use mirrors to reflect sky and light above. 
  • Open up the space – keep the space as open as possible with minimal structures like walls. Consider using glass to enhance the light, for example, a glass staircase.  
  • Rooms with no light – rooms that work well with no light are perfect for basements, for example, entertainment rooms, storage, utility rooms, etc.  

Conversion/ extension disadvantages –  

The major disadvantage of starting a project in your basement can be the cost. However, in areas where property values are high, basements can work financially. Another disadvantage is that the construction of an extension or conversion can be complex, messy, and loud. 

Cost –  

Depending on the type of project you would like to achieve the prices will differ. Converting an existing basement will averagely be around £800 – £1500 per square metre. And if you are lowering the floor level it will cost you between £1400 – £2000 per square metre.  

Architects in London were asked how much it would cost to extend a basement. Most varied between £3000 – £4000 per metre square, for mid-range finishes.  

East Sheen - Cellar Conversion and Basement Construction Cellar Conversion  and Basement Construction

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House Renovation, Interior Design

The Best Beginners Guide To Removing Internal Walls

You can transform your home and save on the cost of an extension by knocking down the internal walls that separate your kitchen and your living room. 

If you want a spacious open-plan living space but fear the cost of an extension, removing internal walls is a great alternative. You could open up a dark room and create a fresh living space without the hassle of the expense and construction of an extension.  

Do you need planning permission? 

Usually, you don’t need to apply for planning permission for internal alterations, such as removing walls. However, if you live in a listed building, you would need listed building consent or any works, internal or external.  

Can you remove an internal wall yourself? 

 You can knock down a wall yourself, but you need to first make sure that the wall isn’t load-bearing.  

A load-bearing wall is an active structural element, which holds the weight of the elements above it, by conducting its weight to a foundation structure below it.  

If the wall is a load-bearing wall it is advised to seek out professional help otherwise the removal could have a major effect on your home. In contrast, a non-load-bearing wall doesn’t support anything above them. Which makes them easy to remove all it takes is a sledgehammer and some common sense.  

Removing an interior non-load-bearing wall is messy, dusty work, but it’s not a difficult job and most walls come out more cleanly than you might expect.  

How long does it take to remove internal walls?  

Removing internal walls can take between 2 and 5 days once the work starts. The removal of load-bearing walls usually takes the longest amount of time due to the need for additional work and the installation of the steel joist, plastering, skirting, and painting. Whereas, smaller non-load-bearing walls take as little as four hours of total labour to remove.  

How much removing the walls will cost  

The average cost of removing a load-bearing wall is in the region of £1,250 to £1,750. Whereas, a non-load-bearing wall will cost between £400 – £800, depending on the size of the removal. 

HLN Engineering | How to Identify a Load Bearing Wall

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Advice Center

Important Things To Know About The Party Wall Process

What is a party wall?  

A party wall is a dividing partition between two adjoining buildings that is shared by the occupants of each residence or business.  

The party wall act –  

The party wall act 1996 applies to houses in England and Wales and was devised to prevent building work that could compromise the structural integrity. The act can be used to stop disputes between neighbours and to help resolve them if they should arise.  

Overview –  

You must tell your neighbours if you want to carry out any building work near or on your shared property boundary.  

Party walls stand on the land of 2 or more owners and either:  

  • Form part of a building  
  • Don’t form part of a building, such as a garden wall  

Walls on one owner’s land used by other owners to separate their buildings are also party walls.  

Party wall agreement –  

You must tell your neighbours and provide them with a notice and come up with an agreement in writing. If you use a builder or an architect, they can advise you on this. 

Once you’ve given notice your neighbour can:  

  • Give consent in writing  
  • Refuse consent  
  • Serve a counter notice requesting additional works be done at the same time 

Your neighbours must let you know in writing within 14 days if they consent to your notice, and you must do the same with a counter-notice   

The following works require you to obtain a party wall agreement  

  • Any work to shared walls between semi-detached and terraced houses  
  • Work to garden boundary walls  
  • Loft conversions that mean cutting into the wall  
  • Making party walls thicker or higher  
  • Building a second storey extension above a shared wall  
  • Building a new wall up to or off the party wall  

What happens if a neighbour ignores the act – 

If an adjoining owner doesn’t respond, then you may appoint a surveyor to act for the adjoining owner. The act allows you to do this without having any further discussion with a neighbour.  

What is a Party Wall?

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Advice Center

10 Ways To Increase Natural Light In Your Home

Natural light is so important to our health and well-being. Improving the levels of natural light in your home can trigger natural chemicals in our body called serotonin. The more exposed we are to the light the less we feel sleepy and are less likely to become depressed.  

Skylights –  

Skylights are one of the most popular ways to add natural light to your home. They can make a dramatic change, even on dull, grey, damp days, the area is still filled with light. Natural light spills in making the smallest spaces feel light and airy. For extra privacy or to reduce the amount of light to prevent overheating, you can add blinds to the windows. 

FIXED SKYLIGHTS PITCHED ROOF - SKYLIGHT SUPPLIES NO1 ROOFING

 Replacing internal walls with windows-  

Replacing the walls with windows is another way of creating additional light in the home. This also gives the illusion of adding more space, in a small area. They are also a striking design feature and they can make a fantastic focal point in modern homes.  

130 Window Walls ideas | house design, window wall, home

Use glass doors to bring in more natural light –  

Another effective way to bring light into a space is by replacing solid doors with glass doors, bi-fold doors, or French doors. The light can pass easily from one room to another and they also bring the outside, in.  

Make the most of the natural light with a glazed extension in Derby

Use mirrors and shiny objects to add more light –  

Mirrors give a greater sense of space, and when carefully placed it can help direct natural light into darker spaces. They also make the interior of the house look fresh and open Mirrors also bounce the light off things so include metallic surfaces or décor in the room.  

How to decorate with mirrors without turning your home into a fun house |  The Star

Choose the right colour palette – 

Painting a room white is probably the quickest and cheapest way to maximise the light in that room. However, this depends on where the windows are placed, because the glare of the sun can alter its appearance.  

Also, if you paint the ceiling a few shades lighter than the walls, the room will feel larger, taller, and brighter.  

10 Best Paint Colors for Small Living Rooms

Have minimal furniture – 

Having minimal and light-coloured furniture opens up the room and makes the space looks bigger. Without the clutter of bulky furniture, the natural light has room to illuminate the living space.  

You should also make sure that you use lighter shades of furniture because heavy shades can block the light from entering your home.  

Minimalist Interior Design Defined And How To Make It Work - Décor Aid

The right flooring  

Flooring can be transformed into light-friendly reflectors by choosing wooden, ceramic, or stone floors with a polished finish. This will reflect much lighter than carpets. However, if you prefer carpet you should stick to light, neutral colours.   

Muniellos Light Oak 910x153 Anti-Slip Tiles | Walls and Floors

Clean windows  

One of the simplest ways to increase light is by cleaning your windows. Eliminating the dirt ensures that as much light as possible can filter through the glass and into your home.  

The Ultimate Guide To Cleaning Your Outside Windows - King of Maids

Remove unnecessary walls  

If you can remove the walls or make the space open plan is a wonderful way to achieve complete openness. Having multiple rooms flow into one to light up the area is great. Because the walls will not be blocking the light and the room would share multiple windows.  

8 Open-Plan Mistakes — and How to Avoid Them

Add greenery  

 When all else fails, you can always count on house plants to help you compensate for the lack of natural light. Plants give off ethereal vibes and keep the air clean. 

How To Style Your Home With Indoor Plants | Our Top Five Tips | Hunting for  George

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Extensions

Everything To Know About Extending Buildings Upwards

New permitted development rights that will cover a range of building types that allows them to go upwards and deliver new homes. 

At last, homeowners, developers, and landlords can build upward extensions and add two storeys for housing to their buildings without needing planning permission. This is generally referred to as upwards extension permitted development rights.  

The logic to this type of extension is that there is a severe housing shortage. And the government doesn’t want concrete over green space. So, if you can’t build out, you should build up.  

Can I extend my house upwards?  

If the existing house is two or more storeys high, you can extend your house upwards and add two storeys under new permitted development rights. If the building is only a single storey currently, you can add one more storey under permitted development.  

You can’t add new storeys using the new permitted development rights if the house has had any new storeys added to it since it was built.  

Planning permission –  

Houses built before 1948 cannot be extended upwards without planning permission. However, the easier route to building isn’t open to you. 

 Your property also will not qualify if it’s in a conservation area, an area of outstanding natural beauty or a national park. You also can’t use permitted development on a listed building, so you will need to get planning permission if you fall under any of these categories.   

A short summary –   

  • Firstly, If you live in a terrace, you can only go 3.5 meters above the rest of the terrace. 
  • If you live in a semi-detached house that’s two or more storeys high, you can add two storeys 
  • If you live in a bungalow, you can only add one storey, and for all houses, the roof type must match what you have right now.  

Cost of an upward extension –  

There are a lot of factors that will affect the cost. However, you should be budgeting around £50,000 – £70,000 to build a one-storey extension. Whereas, if you’re building a double-storey the price would be around £80,000 – £100,000.  

Not only does an extension add space to your home, but it also increases the value of the property. Research has shown that an extension can add up to 23% to the value of your property.   

Upwards Extension in Islington - HPD

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Conversions, Extensions

Things To Know Before Getting A Dormer Extension

A dormer is a staple to a lot of people when it comes to a loft conversion however, it isn’t to everyone’s taste. Although, they play a really important role in creating more space on the inside, and add a little more character to the outside. 

What is a dormer? 

A dormer is a roofed structure, often containing a window, that projects vertically beyond the plane of a pitched roof. There are many various types and shapes of roof dormers. It can be large or small, have a pitched or flat roof depending on the planning permission.  

The function of a loft dormer is to create daylight and headroom in a sloping roof space. Once you have one installed the space below the pitched roof can be used. This means that the space can be transformed into a new bedroom, bathroom, or living area.  

Many people are not a fan of dormers because they don’t always look as good on the outside as they do on the inside. But if they are designed well, and by a good architect then they are a great contribution to the roof.  

Some of the different types are:  

  • Gable fronted – The most common type. It has a pitched roof of two sloping planes, supported by an outward face. 
  • Hip roof dormer – It has a roof composed of three sloping planes that rise from each side of the frame. 
  • Flat roof dormer – The roof of this is a single flat plane approximately horizontal.  
  • Shed dormer – This also has a flat plane roof, but it is sloped in the same direction as the principal roof.  
  • Lucarne – A dormer on the slope of a gothic spire, usually slender and gable fronted.  
Dormer Windows 101: All You Need to Know - Bob Vila

Will you need planning permission for a dormer extension? 

Planning permission is often not required however, whether or not you need planning permission will depend on these factors: 

  • The size 
  • What type of house you live in 
  • Where you live in the UK 

If you are within the permitted development rights, you can go ahead without planning permission.  

History of dormers –  

The word dormer comes from the middle French, meaning “sleeping room”, as dormers provided light and space to attic-level bedrooms. Dormer windows were popularised by French architect Francois Mansart (1598 – 1666), who used dormers extensively in the mansard roofs he designed for 17th century Paris. Although, the first dormer window appeared in residential roofs in 16th century Britain.  

17th-century French dormers

The Prices –  

Dormer window prices can vary massively per specialist. The average price is between £2250 – £3600. Whereas, a dormer loft conversion in the UK can cost anything upwards of £20,000 or around £500 – £600-meter square. And depending on what you would like to include the prices will increase. For example, the cost for a master bedroom with an ensuite will sit around £35,000 – £45,000. Dormers have an average return on investment value of 60 –70%.  

How long do they take to build? 

Determined by the overall size and roof work requirements, a dormer loft conversion may take four to six weeks to complete. A hip to gable end conversion may also take up to 6 weeks.  

Depending on the workmanship and degree of weathering the roof gets the average longevity of one is 25 years.  

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Extensions, House Extension

Timber Frame Extensions – The Good And The Bad

A timber frame extension is an economical and impactful way to increase your home’s space and add value to your property. This type of extension is often quicker and easier to build than blockwork projects and it’s great if you’re building on a budget.  

Advantages of timber frame extensions –  

Choosing a timber frame structure will allow for a quick build time, it would be weatherproof and secure much faster than other construction methods. Timber is an environmentally friendly material with excellent insulation. This means that not only will your extension be eco-friendly, it will also be energy efficient.  

Your timber frame extension can be produced in any style. It will blend in with your extension home whether that be wood, render, or brick finish. However, because you are allowed to select any style if you would like you could apply a contrasting finish to really make it stand out.  

Disadvantages –  

The timber used in home designs is all pressure treated with preservatives. However, the risk of rot is greater when it comes to working with wood. But assuming they’re built correctly the risk should be minimal.  

 A timber frame won’t resist sound transmission as a well-built home because the block home has more density to it. Although, you can add insulation or sound-deadening materials to stop sound transmission. 

Often people say they don’t feel solid enough compared to traditional extensions.  

Why timber frame extensions are built quickly –  

Timber frames are usually built off-site in a factory and are designed to fit the exact measurements provided. While the frames are getting constructed the external groundwork takes place. They do two things at once because it is important to get it done before the weather changes.  

Once the frame is built the extension will be watertight, allowing for you to install electrics, plaster, and plumbing sooner.  

Deciding you install a timber frame extension can eliminate a lot of issues such as the noise and the mess from the construction. With this, you can gain an extension without feeling stressed and enjoy your house.  

Depending on the scale and complexity of the job, it usually takes between 6 to 12 weeks to design and build a timber extension. 

Will you need planning permission?  

You will need to check with your local council to see if your proposed extension is under permitted development. And if it is not you will need to seek planning permission. You may find that if you live in a conservation area or an area of natural beauty that you have restrictions on what you can achieve.  

How much does a timber frame extension cost? 

On average in the UK, the cost of planning and constructing a timber-framed extension is around £27,000, which is around £1,400-£2,400 per square meter. Prices can vary depending on the size of the project and also what type of timber you are using.  

Designing an Oak Home for Life - Build It
Timber frame extension

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