Checking regulations now will save you a lot of pain later
Don't assume that your project will automatically need planning permission. Many alterations do not, but if you are extending your accommodation you should always check this out. The best place to start checking is with your local council building control department. Your architect, surveyor or builder will also be able to advise you or contact the Welsh Assembly planning department for general information on building regulations and planning.
An early port of call, if you live in England and Wales, for any building project is your Local Authority Building Control (LABC) service. This is a publicly accountable service, set up to check plans and inspect work on site. The LABC employs surveyors with technical expertise and local knowledge, and involving them at the very earliest stage - even before plans and drawings are made - will ensure that your project gets on site faster.
Even if planning permission is not required, projects such as small extensions or minor alterations may require you to submit a Building Regulations application to your local building control department. In England and Wales, for smaller jobs, you can submit a Building Notice. You need to do this at least 48 hours before work is due to begin. There is no need to provide detailed plans, just include a site plan, name of the builder, what is involved, the address, drainage and the number of storeys. Your local authority building control department will let you have the necessary forms.
If you are having work done on a part of your property which adjoins your neighbours you will need to consider the Party Wall Act 1996. This refers to walls that are on boundaries between land in separate ownerships. Before the owner can make changes to a party wall there is a specific legal process, which needs to be followed. If you need advice on party walls make sure that you employ surveyors who have knowledge of this kind of work as it is fairly specialised.
If you are planning work on a run down or historic property, you may be eligible for financial help. Check with your local council where a range of grants may be available. Not all authorities have the funding and you will probably be means-tested, but if a dwelling is deemed to be in a state of disrepair, you may be in line for financial help.
Cadw is able to give grants, but first it must - by law - consult the Historic Buildings Council for Wales. The Historic Buildings Council is an independent advisory body whose members are appointed by the National Assembly to provide advice on grants and other means of protecting the historic buildings and townscapes. The Secretariat of the Council is provided by Cadw.
Although a building may be listed, it will not necessarily qualify for grant aid.
The Assembly is responsible for the development and implementation of the planning system in Wales and to ensure that it meets the needs of the people of Wales. It maintains close links with other government departments such as the DETR, the Scottish Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly to help ensure that there is consistency across the United Kingdom.