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“Don’t Move…Improve” Contest Shortlist. London

March 6, 2020

Have a look at these incredible home renovation projects that were short-listed in the coveted 2020 “Don’t move, Improve” contest.  

There are 25 projects shortlisted to win this year’sDon’t Move, Improve!contest – an annual awards programme held by New London Architecture (NLA) to showcase “the ingenuity of residential design” in London. 

Have a look at the shortlist here 


If you’d like some guidance on your home improvement project, give us a call on 02081917595. Or better still, book a FREE consultation with us and we’ll visit your property, discuss your ideas and share some of our recommendations with no obligation. 

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Does my extension fall under Permitted Development?

October 11, 2019

Does my extension fall under Permitted Development? 


We’ve talked about Permitted Development in our previous article on Planning Permission, but there have been some recent developments we thought we’d update you and explore Permitted Development in greater detail.  

In the first week of October 2019, the Government announced the scrapping of the need for planning permission for a two-storey extension. The measure was drawn up by Chancellor Sajid Javid and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick at the Conservative Party Conference.  

This has huge implications for homeowners and builders as it does away with a potential obstacle in a house extension project. The easing of planning permission would make it easier for homeowners to expand their homes upwards, with approval from neighbours no longer being a requirement. 

There have been a number of revisions of Permitted Development rights in recent years: one particularly key change occurred in May 2019 when it became possible to build larger rear single-storey extensions under Class A of Permitted Development. 

Certain home improvements fall within different classes within the Permitted Development rules. Under Class A, homeowners require prior notification for extensions (enlargement, improvement or alteration). Under Class B, homeowners can build additions to the roof; Class C is for other alterations to the roof; Class D is for porches; and Class E is for outbuildings. 

This implied consent of Permitted Development is granted in the form of General Development Planning Orders (GDPOs) which apply separately to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Just to recap.. 

According to the Planning Portal, “You can perform certain types of work without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called “permitted development rights”. 

They derive from a general planning permission granted not by the local authority but by Parliament. Bear in mind that the permitted development rights which apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings. Similarly, commercial properties have different permitted development rights to dwellings.” 

Types of Permitted Development Rights  

In an article in Homebuilding and Renovation, Permitted Development rights fall under several different categories.  

Class A – Extensions (enlargement, improvement or alteration) 

This allows a householder to build a single-storey side extension up to half the width of the existing dwelling; a single-storey rear extension up to 4m in length for a detached dwelling and 3m long for a semi or a terrace house; and, in certain circumstances, 3m two-storey rear extensions.  

The changes that took effect on 30 May 2019 now make permanent the decision that larger single-storey rear extensions of up to 8m (6m for semi or terrace) are permissible under Class A — but do require prior notification (see ‘Lawful Development Certificates are key’). 

Class B – Additions to the roof 

This allows for rear dormers and hip-to-gable extensions as long as the additional volume created does not exceed 50m3 (40m3 for semis and terraced homes). 

Class C – Other alterations to the roof 

Class D – Porches 

Class E – Buildings etc. (outbuildings) 

This allows for an outbuilding to be erected within a residential curtilage as long as it is sited behind the principal (often the front) elevation, does not cover more than 50% of the curtilage and is not more than 3m in height (4m for a dual-pitched roof; 2.5m where within 2m of a boundary). 

There are also specific regulations relating to Hard Surfaces (Class F), Chimneys & Flues (Class G) and Microwave antennas (Class H). 


How do I apply for Permitted Development? 

If you are completely sure your project is permitted development you can start your building work and you do NOT need to pay for Permitted Development. For proof that your building work is lawful you should apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.  

Lawful Development Certificate is a legal document regularising unauthorised or confirming permitted development building works when you don’t have to go through the process of obtaining planning permission.  

In other words, it essentially is a means of obtaining a decision from the planning authority that a proposed use or works do not require planning permission. To get a certificate of lawful development you need to make an application for one to your local planning authority, which you can do through the Planning Portal website and they usually take 8 weeks to obtain.  

To a apply for a lawful development certificate, you will need… 

  • An application form (from the planning portal) 
  • Evidence verifying the information within the application. 
  • Architectural plans and elevations 
  • A site location plan 
  • A fee 

Lawful development applications come with the following fees… 

£103 in England 

£85 in Wales 

£101 in Scotland 

Permitted Development for Home Extensions in London 

  • You can extend a detached dwelling by 8m to the rear if it’s single storey or 3m if it’s double 
  • Semi-detached and terraced homes can be extended up to 6m to the rear of the property if single storey 
  • There are height restrictions, but they boil down to a single storey extension not being higher than 4m in height to the ridge and the eaves, and ridge heights of any extension not being higher than the existing property 
  • Two storey extensions must not be closer than 7m to the rear boundary 
  • It must be built in the same or similar material to the existing dwelling 
  • Extensions must not go forward of the building line of the original dwelling 
  • Side extensions must be single storey, maximum height of 4m and a width no more than half of the original building 
  • In Designated Areas side extensions require planning permission and all rear extensions must be single storey 
  • An extension must not result in more than half the garden being covered 
  • You can only do it once and the original building is either as it was on 1st July 1948 or when it was built. In Northern Ireland it is as it was built or as it was on 1st October 1973 

** We recommend that you make an appointment with the planning officer at your local council to understand their specific requirements as each council has different standards.  

Confused? We don’t blame you. It’s a lot of information to digest and understand. But if you take it step by step, it will make the entire process much smoother.  

The first step to your home extension project is to appoint an architect. You cannot proceed if you do not have an architect. It is your architect who will submit your plans to the council. If you need help finding an Architect, why not download our FREE Architect Guide.  

At SDA Build London, we know how stressful and complex planning applications can be. Applications that are rejected often have to be revised over and over again and can cause delays to your extension project.  

As we have been working in the West London area for several years, we are well-versed with the do’s and don’ts in the area with regards to what the council will allow and what they won’t. We suggest you give us a call [Symbol] if you have any doubts or need to discuss whether your extension ideas… will get through planning. We can be contacted on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk to discuss how we can help.  

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Do I need a Party Wall Agreement for my House Extension in London?

September 27, 2019

When embarking on a house extension project in London, where we mainly operate, we often get asked by our clients if they need a party wall agreement? Many don’t even know what a party wall is or what a party wall agreement is… just that it’s something they need.

So, we thought we’d start at the very beginning …


What is a Party Wall?

A party wall is the shared wall, usually between a terrace or semi-detached house, and divides the homes of two separate owners. It may also include garden walls built over a boundary and excavations close to a neighbour’s property (within three or six meters, depending on the depth of the new foundations). Party wall Awards or Agreements are most commonly needed for building projects that involve loft conversions, basement excavations, internal renovation and extensions.


What is a Party Wall Agreement?

The Party Wall Award or Agreement is a legal document that is drawn up by the two-party wall surveyors or by a single surveyor (if he/she is are acting on behalf of both the Building Owner and the Adjoining Owner or the neighbour). The aim of the Party Wall Award is to resolve any disputes between neighbours as a result of a building project of the one of the neighbours.


The Party Wall Award essentially consists of three parts:

  • The Award or Agreement that states how and when the building works are going to be carried out.


  • The Schedule of Conditions – This is an important part of the Award. It is a detailed record of the current condition of the adjoining property. This will include recording existing issues such as cracks, staining, holes, decay, discolouration, leaks and other defects, disrepair or deterioration along with accompanying photographs. The party wall surveyors will then undertake a re-inspectionof the building after building works have been completed to determine whether any damage has occurred as a result of the building work and whether any repairs need to be carried out.


  • Structural drawings of the proposed works.


The Award must also clearly state the names and address of the Building Owner or Owners and the Adjoining Owner/s names and addresses as listed in the land registry or Company House records in the case of a UK listed company along with details of the surveyor or surveyors.


What else should be included in the Award?

Working hours – e.g. 9:00am – 5:00pm

Proof of the builder/contractor’s public liability insurance

Any indemnities for the Adjoining Owner or neighbour

Clarification of any damage and the steps that will be required to rectify them

Access arrangements to the adjoining owner’s property

Adjoining Owner’s or neighbour’s surveyor’s fees

Costs to be paid by an Adjoining Owner or neighbour for contributing towards the cost of repair to a party structure.

Agreed compensation to paid to the Adjoining Owner or neighbour

Security arrangements

Noise considerations


Usually, the Award is initially written out in a draft format and made final once both parties have agreed on the details. There is a 14 day right to appeal if either owner feels something is amiss, however, this is usually rare, as most of the issues are likely to have been ironed out before the Award is finally drawn up and legally signed and witnessed by the appointed surveyor(s).


How long is a Party Wall Award valid?

A Party Wall Award is valid for 12 months from the date of its service. This would mean that the building owner must commence the proposed works within 12 months of the date of the Party Wall Award.


Do you need a party wall agreement?

If you share a wall with your neighbour i.e. your property is a semi-detached or a terraced property, you will need to draw up a party wall agreement with your neighbour. If your property is detached, you may still need a party wall agreement if your property is within three to six metres of your neighbour’s external wall. This is also dependent on the depth of your foundation. Party wall Awards are important to avoid from unnecessary disputes and conflict between neighbours.


What happens if a neighbour reports damage to his or her property because of my extension?

The first step is to appoint a party wall surveyor… You may have already done this if you appointed a party wall company to draw up your agreement.


Once the appointed party wall surveyor(s) have been notified there are three possible routes to go down, all at the choice of the neighbour.


  1. Perhaps the most amicable route is when the building owner and the adjoining owner discuss and agree on a course of action without engaging the appointed party wall surveyor(s). In this scenario you and your neighbour agree between yourselves on arrangements for the damage to be made good or for a financial compensation to be made.


  1. The appointed surveyor(s) identifies the scope of the repair works by cross-referencing the pre-works condition report and a written schedule of repair works is drawn up and agreed between them. Your neighbour agrees for your contractors to undertake the repair work scoped by the appointed surveyor(s). Your neighbour may also request that the appointed party wall surveyor(s) confirm that repairs have been carried out satisfactorily on completion.


  1. The third route is as point 2 however instead of carrying the repairs you agree to pay your neighbour a financial compensation based on determination made by the appointed surveyor(s). Your neighbour can then choose to appoint their own contractor to carry out the works at their convenience.


The SDA Build London team know that this is a complicated area. We work closely with reputed party wall professionals who will be able to advise you on the best way forward for your particular home extension project. Given that most of our projects are in Chelsea, Kensington, Battersea, Fulham and surrounding areas where the majority of homes are semi-detached or terraced, we understand the importance of Party Wall Agreements.


Give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk to discuss how we can help.



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All you need to know about House Extensions in London… in a nutshell!

September 16, 2019

London has seen a surge in house extensions, basement conversions and loft conversions in the last five years. With soaring stamp duty costs and the high overall cost of moving, homeowners with growing families who need the extra space are increasingly choosing to increase the area in their existing properties rather than up sticks and move home.

Setting out on a house extension project requires, amongst other things a healthy amount of patience [Symbol]. There are several details to consider and decisions to make.

We suggest that you begin by creating a project management spreadsheet (we’ve created one for you) even if you have a dedicated project manager so that you are both on the same page with regards to costs, timelines, delivery schedules and communication with various suppliers.

The first step is to appoint an architect. Your architect is probably the most important person in your project. Make sure you appoint an architect that understands your needs and your vision and is able to marry the two with a plan and solution that your local council will approve.


The Top London Residential
Arhictects 2019

The SDA Build team have meticulously curated a list of talented architects serving the London and Greater London areas. All the architects on our list are RIBA certified and have vetted by Houzz.

I’m ready to download

Whether or not you need planning permission will depend on the scope of your plans. Do you want a single storey extension or a double storey extension? How far do you intend going out? What are the current rules with regards to planning in your local council? All these will determine whether you need to apply for planning permission or whether your works fall under permitted development guidelines. Your architect should know this.

This process usually takes about 8 weeks. You can either sit back and relax or start researching on the various other decisions you will have to make such as:

  • Rental property if you are moving out
  • Flooring and carpets
  • Heating
  • Windows
  • Internal Doors and door fittings
  • External Doors
  • Electrics and lighting
  • Tiles
  • Bathroom furniture and sanitaryware
  • Kitchen furniture and appliances
  • Blinds
  • Fitted furniture in bedrooms
  • Patio or decking
  • Paint colours
  • Home alarm & entertainment system

The list can go on depending on your house extension project, whether it’s a kitchen extension, a bedroom with an en-suite, a guest room, a playroom or games room, a home office or even a gym.


Types of extensions

Single Storey rear extension

If you have a good-sized garden at the back of the house, you could extend the back of the house out (subject to planning rules) and create a more intimate experience with your garden. Large sliding or bifold doors along with an open plan space, can give you an added sense of light and air and almost brings the outdoor, indoors.

Double Storey rear extension

If you feel you need more living space upstairs, perhaps larger bedrooms or an en-suite bathroom or a home office, you could build additional space on top of your single storey extension. In some of the properties we have worked on, we have created luxurious bedrooms with walk-in closets, fitted wardrobes, children’s studies and guest rooms… the possibilities are limitless.

Side extension

Several homes have space between the side of their homes and the fence. Why not think about extending the house into this space? For many home owners this is the perfect opportunity to open up the kitchen, create a home gym a guest room or a room for ageing parents or even a home office with perhaps a separate entrance.

Wrap around extension

As the name suggests, a wrap-around extension is a side and back extension around the existing home. You are effectively changing the layout of the house in totality, allowing you to re configure and re plan how you use the area. You could open up the downstairs completely (this is currently what’s on trend in London.), to give yourself an open plan kitchen-living space or create a games room or even a state of the art cinema room.

As a company that provides a complete design and build service, we have worked with a number of clients in the South East of the country to help them through the entire process of building their house extension, right from the start with architectural design and planning permission, through to the finished product.

If you are planning a house extension and need some guidance on how to go about it, give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk to discuss your project.

To have a look at the kind of work we have done, why not download our free brochure? And if you need any help with managing your building project, our free project management checklist has been hugely popular.

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Loft Conversion – Types of Loft Conversions

June 21, 2019

Converting the loft in your home can add valuable space to your property giving you the much-needed ‘extra room’ for a home office or study, master bedroom, with en suite bathroom and walk in closet, kids’ bedrooms, yoga room, games room… well, for practically anything really.

There are a few standard ‘types’ of loft conversions most commonly used across London. The kind of loft conversion you choose for your property depends on a number of factors including budget, height of roof, council permission and its intended use.

Dormer Loft Conversion

This is the most popular type of loft conversion, where the extension projects vertically from the slope of the existing roof, creating a box shape. This loft extension generally requires no dramatic changes and allows for the installation of standard windows.

Dormer loft conversions are usually suitable for most homes in the UK and are one of the most cost-effective ways of converting your loft as structural alterations are at a minimal. In most cases, these types of conversions fall under permitted development rights and whilst they are not the most aesthetically pleasing, their box-like shape gives the space added head room, light and ventilation.

Mansard Loft Conversion (Named after French architect Francois Mansart)

A mansard loft conversion is situated to the rear of the property and is one of the more complicated types of conversions. The Mansard has a flat roof, with the back wall sloping inwards at an angle of 72 degrees with windows being housed within small dormers.

Mansard roofs will always require planning permission and are a common feature across London and other urban area, particularly in rows of some of the older terraced properties.

Mansard roofs are suitable for almost all types of properties including bungalows, detached, semi-detached and terraced houses.

Due to its complexity, Mansard conversion are more expensive to build than a dormer conversion.

Hip to Gable Loft Conversion

A hip to gable loft conversion straightens an inwardly slanted end roof to create a vertical wall. This type of loft conversion extends your property on the sloping side, effectively replacing the sloping roof with a vertical wall (the gable) at the end to the same height as the ridge and filling in the space in between.

If your property has two sloping sides and you replace them both with vertical walls, it will be a double hip to gable loft conversion and will obviously provide you with even more space.

In most cases, it is not necessary to get planning permission for this kind of loft conversion, however, we recommend you or your architect check with your local council to make sure, especially if you have previously carried out works that fall under permitted development.

If your property is detached or semi-detached, and has a hip-end roof, then this sort of loft conversion is a good option to consider.

A hip to gable conversion is also suitable for bungalows and chalets. Bungalow owners, however, need to take extra care as sometimes the structure will not be able to cope with the added strain a conversion will put on it.

If your property is a mid-terrace, then a hip to gable is obviously not possible as there is no hip-end to the roof. If yours is an end-terrace, however, a loft extension of this type could be viable.

Whatever style your property, the roof must be of sufficient height between the top ridge and the joists of the ceiling below to allow the creation of sufficient living space. If the original height is not there in the first place, then a hip to gable loft conversion will not be viable or cost effective.

Roof Light Conversion

This is the simplest kind of loft conversion and involves adding a roof light and securing the flooring to make the loft a usable space in the property.

Obviously, this is the most cost-effective (almost 25% cheaper than the others) of all loft conversion types as it requires practically no structural alterations. (Find out about the average cost of loft conversions here). As a result, this type of loft conversion is most likely to get approval in conservation areas across London where planning rules are extremely restrictive.

To be able to construct this, you will need 2.25m of head height in the middle of the room, leaving space to safely build up the floor and unlike other types of conversion, it doesn’t open up any more useful space than what already exists. As the head room is limited, the stairs may have to come into the middle of the room.

Whilst planning permission may not be required if the roof light windows are at the back of the house, you may need to obtain permission if you are planning this at the front of the house.

Converting the loft in your home has several benefits, not least the value-add to your property. Many of our clients in London have found that it is more cost-effective to convert or extend their property than undergo the hassle of moving home, incurring exorbitant stamp duty charges and family upheaval.

The SDA Build London team, specialists in all kinds of construction in the London and surrounding areas, have years of experience in advising clients on their best options for home improvement and renovation and creating dream spaces they could only dream of.

To have a look at the kind of work we have done, why not download our free brochure? And if you need any help with managing your building project, our free project management checklist has been hugely popular.

Give us a call on 0208 191 7595 or email us at enquiries@sdabuildlondon.co.uk to discuss how we can help.


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