Do I need an architect or just a builder? (loft, extension)

1 Jul 2004
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London (North)
United Kingdom

All going well i will be the owner of a 3 bed terraced Victorian house, in desperate need of a refurb.

The works that need doing are:
- loft conversion (with a full width rear dormer) bedroom + ensuite
- rear extension (4m wide x 3m deep)
- knocking down at least one load-bearing wall (up to 3 potentially)
- knocking down other walls
- complete new wiring (the consumer unit looks ancient)
- complete new heating system (inc replacing and relocating various rads)
- new bathroom
- new kitchen
- new timber sashes to the front and double glazing to the rear
- putting in a "under stairs" toilet
- decorating the lot

So a fair bit! We believe that all the works come within Permitted Development.

Abous Me + Other Half
We both work demanding jobs, cannot always be on the end of the phone and occasionally are required to work extremely long hours (i.e. till the early hours of the morning). We also don't have a guranteed go-home-time, we work as required. We therefore will need either a decent builder to run the build or an architect.

In relation to getting this done we have three proposed ideas as to how we want to run it.

1. Pre-Fab Extension, Specialist Loft Company, General Builder
- Get a pre-fab extension, installed by the pre-fab company and left at as a bare shell
- Get a specialist loft company to do the loft extension including the staircase
- Unsure about how would do electrics and heating in these areas?
- Get a general builder to then do the rest

2. Pre-Fab Extension, General Builder
- Get a pre-fab extension, installed by the pre-fab company and left at as a bare shell
- Get a general builder to do the loft extension
- Unsure if general builder would do electrics and heating in extension?
- General builder to then do the rest

3. Pre-Fab Extension, Architect/QS and Architect's Builder
- Get a pre-fab extension, installed by the pre-fab company and left at as a bare shell
- Get an Architect to plan out the whole build, QS to state what is required, Architect to tender for builders and act as project manager and run the whole build - they would deal with the builder directly

Would appreciate suggestions as to how you would run this.

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What you really need is
one company which will do all the build of the new extention and loft.
all the electrics and plumbing etc
You can then employ a decorator to do the work to your standards.
I disagree that one company should be used

There may be an advantage in one company doing the design and build, but only if the design is to suit the customer and not their own builders. And you don't want builders snagging their own work

It would be best to instruct an independent project manager to oversee the whole lot. Whether this project manager is the designer/architect is another thing to consider

If party wall issues are involved, then perhaps the project manager should be experienced in this too

I can't see why a prefab extension company should be considered along with other general builders. It gets really complicated the more contractors and professionals are involved. Keep is simple - one professional managing/designing, and one builder building
Thanks all for the comments

The reason for the pre-fab is ease and cost, I was not sure if I could get the same extension for the same price.
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Normally prefab=timber frame.

As this is just an extension, any cost savings in having the frame made up off site, could be replicated by making it up on site by suitable general builders

But you tend to find that when one contractor just erects the frame and others are then installing things and knocking the frame about then problems always crop up and no-one wants to take the blame

So the risk is, any perceived cost savings are then blown away with subsequent work and claims/costs.

Cheap quotes do not always mean a cheap job

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