Architectural plans and professional guidance for your home project
You will need to prepare architectural plans for your home project.
While it is true that you can appoint a number of other professionals to prepare architectural plans or “architect plans” there will be instances when an architect is the professional with the right type of skills, knowledge and experience for your home project.
Below we have put together information and guidance about what architectural plans are and what are not, what is typically included in architect plans, and even if you can draw up your own architects plans.
What are architectural plans or architect plans?
Architectural plans are illustrations prepared with the intention to communicate a certain type of information to others.
For example, you might want to communicate your design requirements to a builder, or to the planning officer, or to the Building Regulations Inspector, or even to the neighbours who might be interested in how you wish to extend your home.
The term “architectural plans” or “architect plans” tends to be an umbrella term.
“Plans” is a short form reference to “Floor plans” however commonly the term also includes a number of other drawings as well. Similarly to “floor plans” that show how the layout will look if seen from above, you also have “elevations” that show how the property looks as seen from the street level or when you stand at the back of your garden. And you also have “sections” that are illustrations that cut through the property to show the floor levels and the outline of the roofline.
Often enough architectural plans include 3D illustrations and even animations (i.e. walk-throughs). In this case the architectural designer will “build” a 3D model and then set up a camera to fly-through this 3D model to give you a virtual reality experience of the new space before it gets built.
Architects plans can also communicate technical, regulatory, and legal information depending on what the requirements are in each case and depending on how you intend to use them.
The key thing to remember is that architectural plans are prepared for a specific purpose and they will include or exclude information as necessary for this reason.
Do I need an architect to draw plans UK?
You do not necessarily need an architect to draw plans in UK.
There is no protection of function in the UK, which means that you do not need to be an architect to prepare architectural plans.
However there might be reasons why you might want to appoint an architect for your home project. Even if you appoint an architect you need to make sure they have relevant skills and experience of similar projects.
The requirements of your project, its complexity, and what knowledge you expect from your designer, are all factors that will drive your decision on who to appoint.
Architectural technologists (see CIAT) are also able to prepare architectural plans of high quality and detail. Architectural technicians of various levels of experience might also be able to prepare drawings and details for simpler projects. Interior designers (see BIID) are experts in detailed design when it comes to interiors, fabrics, fittings and finishes.
If your project includes structural alterations then you will also need plans and information prepared by a structural engineer. These are not called “architects plans” and you will typically need to call them as “structural plans” or “engineer’s plans”.
What is included in an architect plan?
An architect plan can include any type of layouts, details and specifications required and there is no set type of information included in an architect plan.
In fact if you appoint an architect you will see that they prepare a number of architectural plans and illustrations during the various project stages and for each of the approvals you will need to obtain for your home project.
Design / planning stage plans – Drawings for this stage are likely to include sketch design plans, design development plans, and final planning stage plans that will be submitted to the Council for planning approval.
Building Regulations stage plans – Typically these are technical plans, prepared in co-ordination with the engineer’s structural plans, and they aim to demonstrate compliance with the current Building Regulations. These are drawings technical in nature and they need to be prepared by qualified professionals who are able to translate your design requirements to details and construction methods that are buildable, safe and compliant.
Tendering stage plans – Design development is a constant process of refinement of the initial sketch proposals you will prepare with your architectural designer. Tendering stage plans “zoom in” further into the finishes, fittings, products, and furniture choices you need to make for your project. And they aim to demonstrate to the building contractors the finer details of your requirements. This allows the building contractor to accurately review your design requirements and price them accordingly.
Can I do my own drawings for planning permission?
I have seen it happen successfully and you might be able to do your own drawings for a planning permission.
For the simplest of projects you will need to prepare a set of plans as existing to include relevant floor plans, elevations and sections to illustrate your property. These plans as existing need to be prepared to a given scale and they need to include sufficient detail for the purposes of your home project.
Afterwards you will need to prepare a set of plans as proposed. These plans will show to the Council what you propose to do with your property. Also, they need to include relevant information on dimensions, on materials, and relationships to boundaries.
Your Council will have a list of validations requirements, this is similar to the validation information you will find in the Planning Portal. Also please note that for the planning submission you will also need to prepare design, access, heritage, etc statements in support of your planning application.
For the simplest of projects, and with a bit of skill from your side, you might be able to do your own drawings and successfully submit a planning application.
However a successful submission is only one half of the job and for a successful outcome you will still need design and planning advice from an architect or other professional.
You will need someone who will not only prepare architectural plans on your behalf but who will also ensure that these architect plans are in accordance to the current planning guidelines and have a high chance of approval by your local authority.
Can I draw my own plans for building regs?
“Building regulations are minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to virtually every building. The regulations are developed by the UK government and approved by Parliament.
The Building Regulations 2010 cover the construction and extension of buildings and these regulations are supported by Approved Documents. Approved Documents set out detailed practical guidance on compliance with the regulations.
Building regulations approval is different from planning permission and you might need both for your project.
You can apply to any local authority building control department or Approved Inspector for building regulations approval.”
While you might be able to draw up your own planning stage plans it is likely that you do not have the right knowledge to prepare the more detailed and technical architectural plans that are required for a Building Regulations submission.
And remember that you will also need to have prepared structural plans, prepared by a qualified professional with professional indemnity insurance in place, to submit as part of your Building Regulations application.
If you are keen and willing to give it a go still then make sure you give yourself plenty of time to familiarise yourself with the relevant legislation requirements and guidelines. Your starting point is the Approved Documents that not only give a summary of the relevant legislation but also include diagrammes on ways to satisfy these legal requirements.
Having said that, it is all very technical for a layperson and you will be best served by appointing a professional to prepare the relevant plans and information for the Building Regulations submission.
Do I need architectural plans for an extension?
It is likely that you will need a few different types of architects plans for your home extension project.
To start with you will need to prepare some sketch and design architectural plans to help you decide what you want to do with the new extension area. You will also want to see how the adjacent existing spaces will be affected by the new extension. And once you have prepared a set of drawings (plans, elevations, and sections) as proposed you will be able to make decisions on the overall size of rooms, their relationship to eachother, and the balance of the circulation routes.
Afterwards you will need to refine these sketch and design plans and develop them to create planning stage architectural plans for the planning submission to the Council. These plans will need to include relevant information in response to the planning requirements and to demonstrate that your proposals comply with the planning guidelines and requirements.
Then you will need to develop the planning architectural plans further, add detail to them, include structural information prepared by an engineer, to create Building Regulations architectural plans.
Other architect drawings you might need for your extension project might include tendering architects plans and architect drawings for the Freeholder, Party Walls, or Thames Water.
All this explains the different type of information you will need to include in a given set of plans depending on the requirements in each case. It does not mean that these plans need to be prepared by an architect. However you need to make sure that whoever prepares this information has the right type of knowledge, skills and experience to be able to assist with your home extension project.
How do I make my own architectural plans?
You can start by doing a course in architecture and qualifying as an architect. It currently takes a minimum of 7no. years full time to qualify as an architect.
Failing that, and given that you do not really need to be an architect to prepare architectural plans, you can start instead with learning a bit more about construction. In addition to this, you will need to learn a bit more about how to do drawings either by hand or in a computer.
This is not a task for the faint-hearted.
While trying to get your head around thermal bridging or planning guidelines that seem to lack common sense you might come to the conclusion that life is short. And that you do not want to take the risk and to go through the hassle of making your own architectural plans.
In this case you can contact us to assist and we will be happy to prepare accurate and professional architects plans for your home project. Because this is what we do.
We are creative problem solvers who will deal with any construction, planning, and design issue relevant to your home project.
GOAStudio London residential architecture limited, 86-90 Paul Street, EC2A 4NE, Hackney
t: 0203 984 3005