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Building During a Recession

Within all the current uncertainty, one thing that is certain is that the news is fairly miserable.

With the constant chatter around the economy and recession, people are lying low and waiting for the storm to pass. This is understandable in the circumstances, but instead of playing the waiting game, how about using this expanse of time to best effect.

Planning permission is notoriously time consuming, so in this time of uncertainty, it may actually be the best opportunity to think about investing in your home.

Retrofitting and upgrading houses is particularly relevant when coupled with the current climate, energy and cost of living crises. Inefficiently constructed houses have a direct impact on bills, and therefore upgrading services and looking at renewable solutions is of particular significance.

Many homeowners are also looking to improve their homes rather than move elsewhere. Improvements don’t necessarily equal extending; often we find that houses simply need to work harder, with simple changes to internal layouts regularly creating much lighter, more comfortable spaces.

If simple layout changes are not enough, then an extension may be needed. Extensions and larger projects will likely need planning permission. Depending on the type of build, scope of works and how defined your brief is, it can take anywhere from a month to submit an application. It’s important to make sure the design is right for you, and taking time to explore different options and interrogate your brief is always advantageous.

Once your planning application is submitted, it will take a minimum of 8 weeks for the council to make a decision on your application. 13 weeks for larger applications. Following the pandemic, councils have a backlog of applications, and we are seeing case officers frequently seeking an extension of time on decisions.

Whether you require a planning application or not, a Building Control application is required for most works on your home. There are a few ways to approach this, and we would usually advise a Full Plans Application is submitted. While this takes longer initially, with a Full Plans Approval taking around 8 weeks, it does bring benefits. For example, this ensures the Building Control officer has a full overview of the proposal and your drawings are approved before starting onsite, creating less risk of abortive work during construction.

Added to all of this is that builders are emerging from a very lucrative period, with an abundance of building projects previously available to them, particularly on private homes. This time of uncertainty is already causing their pool of work to decline, which means that we will soon be seeing more competitive pricing around the corner.

So, think about using the recession to your advantage. Every cloud has a silver lining, right?


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