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Apply; and pray for a fair wind

06 June 2014

We have almost raised enough money for our building works, and are discussing a realistic timetable for getting them under way. We are keen to get going, but our architect is suggesting a programme that seems unnecessarily slow.

WITHOUT knowing whether your architect is of a dilatory nature, I can run you through what to expect between raising the money and getting the builders on site.

Most fund-raising is undertaken with less-than-complete drawings and details, of the kind needed for permission from statutory authorities and for going out to tender.

Once you instruct the architect, in writing, to proceed with preparing these items, the specification, and related items, the work could take several weeks, as the architect will be fitting it in with other work that he or she has been easing along.

Unless yours is a mammoth project, weeks should be enough. At the end of that period, you will receive copies of the paperwork and plans. At least two of you should read it all, and meet the architect to ensure that every detail is correct and agreed. This is a point of no return.

The project paperwork is then sent to the diocesan advisory committee (DAC) for advice, after which it is forwarded to the Chancellor for permission under faculty. This step can take up to two months for something non-contentious, such as a repair. Expect new works to take longer if the DAC wishes to visit and discuss what you are planning.

If your plans need to be sent to the amenity societies - Victorian, Georgian, Twentieth Century, Ancient Monuments, and so on - again, more time may be needed. Ask your architect what needs to happen with these. An early amenity-society visit on may expedite your plans.

The second element of permission involves listed-building consent from the local authority if you are working on the outside of your listed building or in the grounds; and planning permission for any new signage or change of use of part or all of the building. While there is a statutory guideline to tell local authorities how quickly they should respond, do not depend on it, as most are slower.

Remember that these authorities can require you to undo work that was begun without their permission.

With the money and permission in hand, the work can go out to tender. Tender documents are prepared on a suitable contractual format. This is a small addition to the material sent to the DAC. A list of companies is prepared, and the architect will advise on the list of suitable companies, but you can add to it.

These are invited to tender, and material is sent out with a return date three or four weeks later. On the return date/time, the bids are opened, and the architect or your quantity surveyor will compare the bids, assess which is the best value for money, and make a recommendation to your PCC. Allow two weeks for processing the tender report.

Once this step has been taken, the winning builder is invited to a meeting to talk through the contract and related issues (from access during works, safety, storage of materials, lavatories for the workers, and where to address their monthly invoices). A start date will be agreed.

Allow at least another month for the builder to get on site. Putting up scaffolding or ordering materials may lengthen the preparation time.

With a fair wind, I would guess that that comes to 20 weeks before the confirmation meeting with the builder; so it is at least six months before the builders are seen on site.

Although applications for planning permission run in parallel to the DAC process, it will usually take longer; so this six months is perhaps a minimum. Pray for a fair wind.

maggiedurran@virginmedia.com

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