FAQ's

As your designer and project manager, we make sure that any contractors, suppliers and planning authorities communicate effectively, and that design requirements, timings and budgetary constraints are planned carefully and managed coherently. The result is a successfully completed project that you can be proud of. Our fees are fixed, proportionate to your project, and with no hidden extras.

We provide cost estimates so that you know exactly what you are dealing with. By obtaining quotations from a range of suppliers, we ensure that our estimates are as accurate as possible, and by following a professional tendering process, we will ensure the best value for money prior to selecting a main contractor. We will also carefully monitor costs throughout the project, provide regular reports, certify work and undertake valuations.

Because environmental considerations are increasingly important to any building project, PCMS Design always endeavours to specify the most eco-friendly construction materials to ensure a sustainable build. We stay up to date with innovations that come onto the market, and can offer ideas to include in your build that will potentially cut the costs of running your home or building.

When you first contact us, we arrange an initial, free of charge consultation to discuss your plans in detail and establish whether the proposed project is feasible within your ideal budget. We'll take preliminary measurements and photos, talk through your ideas, and offer advice where needed. We're happy to look through any sketches you might have made, or thoughts you have on what you have seen and liked elsewhere. Ultimately we are there to make the best recommendation based on your requirements and the property itself. We will always be honest with you, so that you know you can rely on our advice.

Because each project varies, we will advise on timescales at the initial consultation. Once appointed, we produce a Project Timing Plan setting out milestone dates, and decide a realistic project completion date that all parties can agree to.

Planning permission rules don't apply to every project, but when you are thinking about any renovation or extension it is essential to check the rules, and we will always advise whether planning consent is required. Note that almost all building work also has to comply with building regulations, even if planning consent isn't required. PCMS Design can advise you, and handle the process of applying for planning permission and/or building consent. We liaise with the planning authorities so that you don't have to.

Special planning rules apply to listed buildings, and for any kind of property sited within a conservation area. These rules are usually more restrictive than for other kinds of property, but it doesn't mean that the property cannot be changed. PCMS Design will discuss with you exactly what is and isn't allowed, and recommend designs that are appropriate for your individual circumstances.

If the application is straightforward, you can usually expect a decision within eight weeks. If the application is submitted to a Planning Committee for a decision, or is classed as a major application, it can take a further four weeks. Building Control plan approval takes five weeks.

Some smaller changes can be made to buildings without the need to apply for planning permission, and this is known as 'permitted development'. In certain areas - such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, and conservation areas - permitted development rights are more restricted. PCMS Design can advise on the permitted development rules.

We will first produce a set of drawings which will help you to create a mental picture of the internal layout of your project, and also get an impression of the external appearance. The plans we produce will be supplemented with 2-D and 3-D visualisations as appropriate. Once you're happy with these, we will produce fully detailed and dimensioned plans for Planning and Building Control approval.

Most projects require structural calculations, and we will take care of this for you. In most cases this is done in-house and included within our fixed fees. All necessary calculations are submitted to Local Authority Building Control for approval.

This is a document that describes the site, conditions of contract and the standard of work to be carried out. It contains details of fixtures, fittings, and any construction specifics sufficient to describe the work. Once approved, the Specification of Works forms part of the contract with the building contractor.

It's very important that you select a construction company you are confident in, and comfortable working with. You may already have a shortlist of recommended builders, but if you need our help with the selection, PCMS Design can administer the tendering process and obtain quotations from at least three builders. We will produce detailed written specifications to ensure that the quotations received are as close to the finished build cost as possible. In all cases, it's a good idea to visit previous jobs to see the quality of the workmanship, and ask previous customers for a reference.

Your builder will need copies of detailed drawings, such as those produced for Planning and Building Regulations approval. They should also be given a written Specification of Works. All projects should have a formal contract, and we can advise on the type of contract and ensure that it is drawn up correctly.

This is never advised. If planning approval is refused or made conditional then you may have to carry out expensive remedial works, or even be forced to demolish any construction works. Planning approval should always be gained before works begin.

In England and Wales, work carried out on any part of your property which adjoins your neighbour's property must comply with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. Any wall on the boundary line of two or more properties (including garden walls) is covered, and works that might have an effect on the structure of the party wall must be officially notified to the affected neighbour. You must serve at least two months' notice of any intended works, and obtain agreement in writing.

Yes we can. Because of our design experience we can make recommendations about your finished scheme, such as internal furnishings, sourcing fixtures and fittings, and choosing colour schemes. If required, we can also put you in touch with specialist companies such as audio-visual installers and security advisors.

During the construction phase, PCMS Design ensures that all works are followed according to the specification, and valuation certificates are issued at milestone dates to enable payment to be released to the builders. At completion, PCMS Design will undertake a rigorous and detailed inspection of the finished project to ensure everything is completed to a high standard. We will then draw up a written snagging list for all interested parties, and the builders must return to address each item on the list within a reasonable period. We will manage this snagging process. Once this is completed, PCMS Design will generate a practical completion certificate, and following testing and commissioning, will hand over the finished building or extension.