Planning Permission and Building Regulations Assistance.

Interior Decoration

Waste Management

Construction Management

Gas Safe



Basement Development Advice

Listed Buildings

The Party Wall etc. Act 1996

Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

Interior designers can make a marked difference to the quality of a construction project. With their help you can create a unique space that develops your vision while also meeting your design requirements. That makes them a valuable asset, particularly if you are trying to create a space that truly relates to your clientele, business image or location.

Interior designers often offer flexible services. They may be able to project manage your entire project to make sure that it is completed on time, or they can serve as your consultant if you would prefer to take on the responsibility yourself. They can also co-ordinate your other contractors, such as architects and engineers, from a design standpoint, and handle the ordering of materials.

Some of the important questions that interior designers will ask may be how time, colour and interior furnishings will impact upon the interior design of your development. They may also determine how each interior design relates to the overall scheme of your development and analyse your options for finishing your development off. This will save you time and money as they can help you to visualise what the project will look like before it is completed.

Once construction is complete, interior designers can help you develop your desired space by showing you products suitable for your home environment. Because they will have an understanding of your specialised needs, they can help you decide on the right design scheme, taking into account factors such as light, space and the overall co-ordination of the building. Normally there will be a nominal charge for this service, but it is worth it to have a holistic view of how your vision for your development can be realised.

Interior decoration and design – it’s not all curtains and cushions

There are some key areas that must be taken into consideration:


Part of the process of creating a space that is both pleasing and functional is to understand the behaviour and desires of the end users, including how they will move through or around this area.

While one way to manipulate the layout of a room is by moving or removing walls, a more subtle approach may be to use furniture and other objects to achieve this outcome. The location of items within a space can create a pleasing flow without detracting from the sense of freedom that is has to offer. While there are many design rules that work well within spaces, designers are challenging them and proving that some rules can be broken. However, in order to ensure form and function work together, a designer must also take into consideration accessibility and escape options.


The quality of furniture can heavily influence a project’s success.

Whether fixed or mobile, it is the designer’s job to make sure that the specified items work with the space and that the functionality of the space remains intact. You may not think of plants as furniture, but they are an aspect of interior design that should be explored.


Given the amount of time we spend inside, it’s only natural for us to want to improve the environmental quality of our indoor spaces.

An uncomfortable and unhealthy interior space has been proven to be harmful to both physical and mental health. The comfort and ergonomics of a space is influenced by many aspects, including a breeze through an open window and the temperature upon entering a space. When looking at interior decoration, the colour, brightness and perceived depth of a space are among the main factors that can ensure a positive reaction.

Why hire an interior designer?

There are many reasons why a homeowner might choose to hire an interior designer.

For some, it’s the advantage of having a design professional lead the design process. For others, who may need help figuring out how to achieve a desired look or style, may benefit from the expertise of a professional. An interior designer will approach the project with fresh eyes, help solve problems and look at ways to enhance a space.

Where to start

Before approaching prospective designers, it can be helpful to look through magazines or websites to find images and design inspiration that reflect what you are trying to achieve. Creating a mood board will help to showcase what it is that you like and dislike, which in turn will help the designer when planning design schemes or selecting pieces for your home.

Consider whether there is a piece of furniture or art that you want to structure the room around. Such a focal point can influence the scheme of the room and be a useful starting point for your designer.

Do your research

Before signing a contract with an interior designer, make sure to do your research. Look at a selection of portfolios, as this will help you to make an informed choice that fits your style and budget.

Always meet with a prospective designer to make sure you can communicate well with them. It sounds simple, but it’s extremely important to build a good rapport with your interior designer and that they understand your requirements from the start.

Ask to be shown examples from their previous projects; prospective designers will be happy to provide photography or client testimonials. This will allow you to learn more about the designer and whether they will be a good fit for your makeover.

Be clear about your time frame. It’s very important that the prospective interior designer is aware of any time constraints and your aims for a completion date. A good interior designer will tell you whether a deadline is feasible and if it fits their current workload. For the right designer you may need to be flexible.

Budget matters

It is important to set a clear budget. Before signing a contract, ask your prospective interior designer to explain how they cost projects. Choose a designer who is transparent about their fee structure: do they charge an hourly rate or set a fixed charge for the whole project? A clear brief should be agreed up front and a detailed proposal with transparent costs should follow.

An experienced interior designer will be up to date on all the latest design trends. They can procure goods that are unique and often for a better price than the public can obtain. The final decision rests with the client but keep an open mind. You may not have initially chosen an item that they have selected but listening to their recommendations on materials, colour or layout may help you see the space in a different light.

Check if the professional, supplier or contractor is a member of a relevant trade association. At worst, you may have recourse should things go wrong and at best it could ensure you’ve found the right project partner.

The waste management industry is modern, fast moving and dynamic. Waste management legislation governing the proper disposal of waste, is designed to cover all eventualities, ranging from low risk waste through to hazardous waste.

On commercial and domestic construction projects it is prudent to make decisions at the earliest possible opportunity to address the waste issues your project will face.

The main items are likely to be:

  • How – Waste streams produced during building work will be managed in an opportune and compelling way.
  • Who – is in charge of gathering and transfer of waste produced on site.
  • Work areas – Clearing waste should be a priority. Make sure that everybody knows what is required of them and it is being done.
  • Skips – Waste materials require putting away securely before their expulsion from the site to ensure that you permit adequate space for skips and containers. Plan where the skips can be situated and how frequently they should be gathered.
  • Waste within buildings – Consider waste produced inside the building and whether you have given wheeled receptacles or chutes and so on to enable it to be brought out of the building securely.

For guidance on how waste disposal is regulated and how businesses need to comply, it is recommended to visit and to view directives on local authority websites.

The main set of regulations for managing the health and safety of construction projects is the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations 2015. These regulations apply to all work surrounding building and construction, including new builds, renovations, extensions, repair, maintenance and demolition.

There are five duty holders – or people with responsibility – under the CDM regulations. These are: the client, the principal designer, the principal contractor, any secondary designer, and any secondary contractor. The regulation also contains a guide for construction workers who do not have the same level of responsibility.

The inception, design and planning stage of a construction project is just as important as the actual construction work itself. For that reason it is advised that you appoint designers and contractors as soon as possible to help prepare the project, even with planning for simple tasks like routine maintenance.

Pre-construction phase

he pre-construction phase in which preparatory work is carried out is vital in protecting the welfare of those working on your project or those who will be affected by it. Use a client brief to explain your project to designers and contractors and inform them of your requirements. This will help you properly plan, resource and manage your project.

Construction phase

While construction work is ongoing you should look to do the following things:

Enforce the construction phase plan

  • Under the CDM regulations the principal contractor is responsible for producing a plan of how health and safety will be managed on site while construction is ongoing. This is known as a construction phase plan.
  • As the client you should check that a construction phase plan has been prepared and meets the necessary requirements. If the plan is project-specific and takes into account the information that you provided pre-construction, the plan will be sufficient.

Check welfare facilities

  • Those working on the site must have appropriate welfare facilities made available to them from the very start of the construction stage. You can check that they are in place by asking for confirmation from the principal contractor or by carrying out a visit to the site yourself.

Health and safety file

Throughout the project, the principal designer will be responsible for the site’s health and safety file. You can obtain this from the designer at the project. Where the principal designer’s role has been fulfilled before the project has ended, the responsibility for the file will fall to the principal contractor.

In days gone by, it was not unusual to be told that someone had fitted their own gas appliance or serviced their boiler. However, it is now unthinkable to have a gas appliance fitted without addressing the safety issue. Working on a gas appliance in ignorance means placing your family, your neighbours and your business at risk. A gas leak can cause an explosion and a poorly fitted appliance can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The issue of gas safety is not something that should be treated lightly. In May 1968 a gas explosion led to the partial collapse of a tower block in east London. Two years later, the Confederation for the Registration of Gas Installers was formed, initially as a voluntary organisation. Membership became a legal requirement for gas operatives and businesses throughout the UK in 1992. The scheme was reviewed by the Health & Safety Executive in 2016 and CORGI was replaced by the Gas Safe Register.

Today, membership of The Gas Safe Register is mandatory if a business or individual is to work on gas appliances within the UK.

The Gas Safe Register maintains a comprehensive website, which contains listings of legally qualified gas engineers, and this list also highlights the type of work the gas engineers are qualified to carry out including:

  • Domestic and Non-Domestic
  • LPG & Natural Gas
  • Areas of work such as boilers, fires etc.

When the gas engineer arrives at a property, you can always check the areas of work by referring to the rear of their Gas Safe ID card.

To ensure that gas safety is kept in the public eye The Gas Safe Register runs an annual Gas Safety Week, bringing together the gas industry, individuals and consumer organisations enabling them to have a positive impact with the public and media alike.

As in any business area, some companies and individuals fail to reach the required standard with the work they leave behind. In this instance, The Gas Safe Register welcomes calls about work that has been carried out and will investigate on the client’s behalf work carried out by a registered engineer. Additionally, if you suspect that the gas engineer carrying out work at your premises is not Gas Safe registered, they may make be working illegitimately. As with workmanship issues, The Gas Safe Register welcomes information on this type of individual or company.

Above all, The Gas Safe Register exists to provide help and guidance on all aspects of gas installations in all circumstances. If you are unsure, ask, as there are no silly questions when it comes to gas safety.

The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) is a trade body which provides assessment and certification services for thousands of contractors working in the building services sector including electricians, plumbers, renewable energy installers, and gas and heating engineers. Since its inception in 1956, the NICEIC register has grown from 3500 approved contractors to more than 27,000 today. All can undergo assessment and certification under NICEIC-managed schemes.

In 2004, Part P of the Building Regulations was incorporated into the Standard Building Regulations, all of which are designed to ensure that consistent standards are applied to the construction of a building, including its structure, fire safety, sound insulation, drainage, ventilation, and electrical safety. The basics of certification of any works via a third party enable the accreditation to provide the confidence that any certification of this nature is impartial and free from bias.

It is recommended that if you are looking to employ a contractor, ensure they are registered with their professional trade association. The NICEIC has a searchable directory of registered and assessed contractors to help you in your search to find a suitably certified contractor for your project.

The search facility enables individuals and companies alike to search for electricians, renewable energy installers, MCS (microgeneration certification) installers, and contractors that are on the Competent Persons Scheme.

If a company claims to be NICEIC registered and it is discovered that they are not, they must cease work on your project and are reported immediately. For further information, and to use the NICEIC contractors search facility, visit

HETAS (Heating Equipment Testing and Approvals Scheme) is the only specialist organisation approving biomass and solid fuel heating appliances, fuels, and services. This also includes the registration of competent installers and servicing businesses. HETAS’ purpose is to ensure the safe and effective use of appliances and fuels giving confidence and instilling trust for both consumers and industry professionals. With backing from leading manufacturers and key organisations in the industry – including the British Flue and Chimney and Manufacturers’ Association, the Solid Fuel Association, Stove Industry Alliance and sweep associations (APICS, The Guild, and NACS) – HETAS provides the most up-to-date information and informed advice for registered installers, HETAS approved retailers, and sweeps.


HETAS offers comprehensive training programmes to equip industry professionals with the latest skills and knowledge allowing them to uphold industry standards and regulations. HETAS delivers courses tailored for stove retailers, installers and sweeps.

Dry Appliance Installer Course

HETAS offers the Dry Appliance Installer course (H003) over three to five days. This allows experienced professionals to join the competent person registration scheme for the installation of dry appliances and become a HETAS Registered Installer. Professionals who have chosen to expand their expertise and become a HETAS Registered Installer will gain access to free technical support by phone or email. HETAS is the only Competent Person Scheme specialising in solid fuels and biomass with dedicated staff offering technical support.

Chimney Systems Course

H003 is a prerequisite to the Chimney Systems Course (H006), a one-day training course for the installation of twin wall rigid system chimneys in residential properties. The course discusses system components and installation techniques in relation to the various elements of a domestic structure.


HETAS strives to promote and monitor continuous improvement in the safe installation and use of solid fuel appliances, systems, chimneys and flues and in their maintenance. As such, HETAS is keen to be advised of any non-compliant installation carried out whether by a non-registered HETAS or registered HETAS installer. HETAS can provide support and advice to consumers throughout the installation process.

Permits and requirements

When you are altering, extending or demolishing a basement you must comply with a wide range of laws. These may require you to seek different types of permission, including:

  • Planning permission, except in circumstances where it may be permitted development
  • Listed building consent (if the building is listed)
  • Structural impact assessment or report (if the building is listed or of merit to the townscape)
  • Building regulations approval
  • Highway licences – Many of these must be applied for before starting work and include skip, scaffolding, hoarding and building material licences, parking suspensions and trader parking permits
  • Temporary traffic orders (closing pavements, road space and bus stops)
  • Party wall agreement if work is within three or six metres of adjoining land
  • Notifying the council and neighbours if the work will involve environmental health risks including noise, vibration, dust, contaminating land or changes habitable accommodation standards
  • Freeholder consent – This is always required, including before submitting a planning application
  • Utilities permission – This includes water suppliers and transport companies such as Network Rail

In addition to these circumstantial requirements all basement developers must prepare and submit a statement of how the construction will be managed as well as sign up to a Considerate Construction Scheme.

What are the potential issues?

Proposing basement works can throw up unexpected issues. Here are just a few of the common design problems that you should be aware of while planning your basement project:

  • Inappropriately large extensions – This is as true below ground as it is above ground!
  • Trees and roots – Be aware of trees on or near your site and the space their roots need to be protected, as encroaching this space may categorise your basement as overdevelopment
  • Gardens – Proposed basements should not take up more than half of a front and/or back garden as they may impact biodiversity
  • Rain and drainage – Any development should provide enough planted material to absorb rainwater adequately
  • Basements as accommodation – Basements used as housing must be of high quality and provide a good standard of sunlight, outlook and privacy

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is the designating body of listed buildings. These are defined by the DCMS as buildings of ‘special architectural or historical interest’ and can include structures such as bridges, milestones, walls and even telephone boxes.

Those who own or carry out work on a listed building must be especially careful not to adversely impact the integrity of the building. This means there are strict controls on both internal and external alterations to the building, as well as work on certain outbuildings, which cannot be performed without Listed Building Consent from the local council. Whether a building is listed and the grade of the listing can be found online at Historic England’s Listings website.

If work is carried out without the relevant consent you may receive a substantial fine or be imprisoned, so always consult your local authority before carrying out work on a listed building or in a conservation area.

Legal requirements

Listed buildings must always be kept wind and watertight, structurally sound and in a reasonable state of repair. If a listed building is neglected by its owner, section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990 permits the council to serve a ‘repairs notice’ on the owner outlining the work required to rectify it. If the owner does not apply within a specified time scale, the council can compulsorily acquire the building. If a listed building is either unoccupied or partly occupied, s.54 of the 1990 act allows councils to serve an ‘urgent works notice’ to carry out work on a building and look to recoup costs from the building’s owner.

Historical sites and buildings

Historic England is a body responsible for giving advice on ancient monuments, listed buildings and conservation areas in England, and it must be consulted by the council about some applications relating to these.

If you are looking to change a historic environment, Historic England offers a range of services to support you.

Some of the advice that Historic England offers includes its Charter for Advisory Services, which explains how the body handles requests for pre- and post-application planning advice.

While Historic England can offer you assistance, the local conservation officer at your local council should be your first point of enquiry as they are best placed to offer you advice on any proposal concerning a listed building or conservation area.

The legislation surrounding listed buildings is the same no matter what grading the building receives. Listed buildings are categorised into three grades:

Grade I

Grade I listed buildings are deemed to be of exceptional interest. Examples of Grade I listed buildings include castles, churches and large country houses.

Grade II

This is the most common grade with 86% of listed buildings falling into this category. These buildings are deemed to be of special interest.

Special Grade II

This is awarded to Grade II buildings with some additional merit, e.g. a unique interior, that are not exceptional enough to warrant a Grade I listing.

The Act, which came into force on 1 July 1997 and applies throughout England and Wales, provides a framework for preventing or resolving disputes in relation to party walls, party structures, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. Anyone intending to carry out work of the kinds described in the Act must give adjoining owners the written notice of their intentions. It even applies to Crown, government and local authority owned property. Where the intended work is to an existing party wall (section 2 of the Act) a notice must be given even where the work will not extend beyond the centre line of a party wall.

Adjoining owners can agree with the building owner’s proposals or reach agreement with the building owner on changes in the way the works are to be carried out, in their timing and manner. It is always best to have any agreement with your adjoining owner in writing.

Where a dispute arises (in relation to a new party wall or party fence wall, works to an existing party wall or an excavation), if written consent has not been given by the adjoining owner within 14 days of receiving a written notice the Act provides for the matter to be resolved by surveyors.

What does the Act cover?

  • Various work that is going to be carried out directly to an existing party wall or a party structure
  • New building at or astride the boundary line between properties
  • Excavation within three or six metres of a neighbouring building(s) or structure(s), depending on the depth of the hole or proposed foundations

Work may fall within more than one of the above categories and involve different types of buildings and structures for example, houses, garages and office buildings.

Why is the Party Wall etc. Act important?

  • By law, anyone intending to carry out work on or astride the boundary or on a party wall or undertake certain excavations adjacent to an adjoining neighbours’ buildings or structures must give adjoining owners notice of their plans
  • Owners are considered to be joint owners of the entirety of a party wall rather than sole owner of part of the wall
  • If work starts without a notice being given, an adjoining owner can seek to stop the work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress

Tree preservation orders (TPOs) are commonly used by councils to protect certain trees within their area of authority found on someone else’s land. If they wish to protect a tree, the council can send a TPO to the landowner and explain the reason for making the order. The landowner has the right to comment.

If a tree is protected via a TPO, the council must consent before any work can be carried out on the tree. Landowners have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State within 28 days if they have a planning permission application refused due to reasons relating to a TPO.

Applications concerning protected trees are handled differently to standard planning permission, with one major change being that these applications can be made without a fee. However, they still require the inclusion of paperwork such as the appropriate forms and a diagram outlining the trees you wish to work on. As with standard planning applications, your application will be advertised by the council. However, neighbours will only be notified on a case-on-case basis.

The arboricultural officer at the council responsible for your application may wish to visit the site in question to gain a better understanding of your application and the tree(s) that will be affected. The standard eight-week time target applies to applications to work on protected trees.

If you are looking to remove a protected tree entirely, you will need a report from a qualified arboriculturalist to support your application.

When can a tree be worked on?

Wilfully cutting, uprooting, damaging or destroying a protected tree without the council’s permission is a criminal offence. Exceptions to this law are:

  • Cutting down a tree when it is already dead
  • Cutting down a tree when the whole tree presents “an immediate risk of serious harm”
  • Pruning part of a tree that presents “an immediate risk of serious harm”
  • Removing dead branches from a living tree
  • Preventing or controlling a “legal nuisance”
  • When requested by an organisation listed in the council’s regulations
  • When it is in the interests of national security
  • Where the tree is a fruit tree being pruned in accordance with good horticultural practice, or where the tree is in a commercial orchard
  • Cutting down trees in accordance with a grant or felling licence obtained from the Forestry Commission
  • Where the tree is directly obstructing development for which full planning permission has been granted (not including permitted development)


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