Things to know when Building in a City

14/06/18

Amongst super prime locations, amazing views over London’s mesmerising skyline and beautiful parks, there are always ample opportunities to increase your properties value significantly beyond the building cost of a large, congested city. However, to achieve this, careful planning is required to mitigate the pitfalls of construction costs.

The most critical stage of pre-construction involves the coordination of your design team, obtaining planning consents and agreeing prices and terms of building contracts. Below we look at various things to consider when going through this process.

Have your consents ready for any extensions or sufficient changes to your property.

There may be a variety of consents required to carry out works to your property. While these do predominantly stay the same from council to council, they will vary in how efficiently the process is managed and the level of leniency. There also may be various restrictions on alterations you can make on your property if it is listed. See considerations before buying a listed building then planning for listed buildings for more details.

The top three consents that you should consider are:

  • Party wall agreements – These are required for any structural work you are considering and work on adjacent or neighbouring structures.
  • Licence of Alteration – This is required for any reconfiguration of internal walls within the property and is obtained through managing agents. This tends to be time consuming and will usually require a project manager to submit professional information to the managing agent.
  • Licenses for different types of works – This includes scaffolding on pavements, relocation of bus stops, basement construction bounding highway, skips on highways and build over agreements for utility services.

Produce a pre-construction programme for your project

This is absolutely vital for anyone preparing building work projects and should include:

  • All professionals involved in project
  • The time required for tasks to be carried out
  • The work packages they will be undertaking
  • How each task overlaps and whether they can be carried out at the same time or not – to optimise the time it takes to complete your project.

Manage your costs at tender stage

You must have a detailed preliminaries section (Bill of quantities or Scope of Works) in your tender documents to be able to correctly manage all costs.

These preliminaries will set out restrictions and working conditions that the contractors need to consider within their price including:

  • Parking restrictions for skips and vans (traffic management plan)
  • Scaffolding arrangements and design.

Bring together all professionals involved early on

I would advise to liaise with a project manager early on who has experience of similar projects to yours so as to draw on their knowledge. They will be used to the requirements, the council’s requirements and restrictions and will set the project up for success.

It is important to assemble the design team at an early stage too. You can draw on their contacts and their recommendations for other professionals including the main contractor. See things to consider before appointing a contractor for more details.

A typical design team would include:

  • Architect
  • Party wall surveyor
  • Structural engineer
  • Mechanical and electrical consultant

Understand your contractors’ challenges

Your contractors will always be working under various logistical constraints. Various examples include:

  • Rubbish/waste removal – this is usually bagged and held on site in agreed locations before they are able to be loaded into skips or collected from your site. This leads to necessities such as hoarding on pavements/on a parking bay the other side of a basement (which is common when involved in basement construction and basement excavation).
  • Site offices – This is often a luxury as space is always tight in a city, especially when building in a mews. (as Piperhill have recently encountered in project in Knightsbridge and Belgravia). Ideally your site office would be located within the property, however sometimes it is easier or a necessity to create space in the garden, in levels of the scaffolding or in a structure on the roof.

Piperhill Construction pride ourselves in being qualified and experienced to undertake all aspects of work; from new build, basement construction, refurbishment and luxury interior fit out, through to fully integrated services and first class designer finishes. Whether working within design and build or traditional contracts, our unfailing aim is to satisfy all of our clients and their consultants requirements and to produce the highest quality finished project.

Please contact us on 0208 166 5607 if you wish to discuss a project.