Looking for technician/plan draftsperson/architect for large workshop in Cheshire

11 Dec 2014
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United Kingdom
I've been struggling to find anywhere to gain advice for this... then remembered the forum! We're about to complete on a house in South Cheshire near the Shropshire border and I'm in need of a professional to prepare a set of drawings (both planning and building regs) for the construction of a large workshop. This will need to be done quite quickly.

The property is in the middle of nowhere, and has a very large (>0.5acre), vehicle accessible rear garden with a quiet corner surrounded by farmland that lends itself perfectly to the build - this opportunity is the primary reason for moving. Size of the building won't be finalised until we complete and we have pegged out the ground so that my partner and I can agree, but broadly speaking it will be approx. 12m wide by 8m deep - so a substantial size. It will be replacing a stable block that has been there for some time.

As I'd ideally like to build very slightly higher than any permitted development limits and as the footprint/services will automatically trigger building regs I'd like to work with someone to form a set of drawings from which I can gain building quotes. My preference is block built with steel roof trusses but this will be compared with prices for a steel prefab unit.

Once the footprint is agreed, I'll be able to draw the building including access/service routes/etc. - so little imagination will be needed, but I don't have the skills to convert this into an adequate plan needed to gain quotes.

The planned process is this:

1) I peg out the ground and establish the footprint.
2) From this footprint, I sketch out the layout of the building, including access doors, internal heights (I need one area to be high enough for a vehicle lift), plumbing locations, alcoves, slab thickness (set by vehicle lift manufacturer) etc.
3) At this stage I'd want to have a set of plans drawn up (need help here, especially with internal roof design) just good enough to get accurate quotes from some local builders.
4) I compare the quotes against the price of steel buildings - by sending the block-based drawings through to their design teams to be converted into a comparable steel design.
4a) If I decide on a steel building then I don't proceed any further with the technician/plan draftsperson/architect as most steel building suppliers can supply their own drawings and can offer planning support services.
4b) If the quotes allow me to go with block-build (by far my preference) then I'd continue to work with the technician/plan draftsperson/architect and will take it through planning for approval and will engage the builder to complete.
5) If the planning authorities have any visual input then the relevant designer can incorporate these and if they refuse my application altogether then I'll drop the height to put it under permitted development (not ideal, but doable) and...
5a) ...if block will still need to work with the technician/plan draftsperson/architect to adapt the plans and to cover building regs.
5b) ...if steel will work with the steel building supplier to adapt my plans to suit.

As you can see, the debate between steel and block is tough and this puts me in a bit of a catch-22 situation as I can't get quotes nor apply for planning until this is decided.

Couple of questions:
1) given that (once the footprint has been agreed) I will know what I want the building to look like and will have a clear sketch, am I right in thinking that I should find more of an architect's technician or plan drafter than a true architect?
2) does anyone know of anyone in the area who has familiarity with workshop/barn/almost industrial builds who could help me to prepare the drawing packs without the residential price-tag?

There are dozens of architects in the area, but this isn't a high-end or even a residential build in itself. I know what the building needs to be and how it should flow, there is little scope to add style beyond cladding or render and things like the load bearing of the roof steels and potential to have strong points in the roof are more important to me than how the building looks from the outside.

Any advice would be massively welcome.

I'm currently pouring through as many books as I can find (Building a Garage by Laurie Williamson has been a godsend) to learn enough to proceed. I won't be doing the work myself, but recognise the importance of background knowledge.
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Obviously I'm not local to the area. Sounds like a one man band have a go at anything architect is what you want.

Look through the online planning portals, especially for similar agricultural buildings or small workshops nearby.
It will usually have the architects name in the corner of the plans. You could even go round to the site address and ask them
Thank you very much - that’s a great tip. Hadn’t thought of that, so will get onto the planning portals pronto.

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