On September 13th, we received approval from the planning department for the new footprint placement of the house and some add-ons (i.e., dormers and a porch).   Good news?  Yes.  However, we then had to make a lot of decisions pretty darn quickly, because “approval” doesn’t mean “go ahead and build it”.  It means, “we’ll let you build it as soon as you give us more information and we approve that information”.  To give you an idea of what I mean, the information I had to return is at the end of this post.

We’ve become friends with a couple who have just moved into their new build home and they have been invaluable to us.  We’ve asked them a lot of “What did you say to the planners about this?” questions.  However, they asked us a question just yesterday:

Friend: Have you given your information to Building Standards, yet?

Me:  I beg your pardon?

Friend: Building Standards.  They need to see your SAP reports and structural designs, etc., and pass them before you are given building warrant.

Me:  Probably?  I’m sure that’s been dealt with by my better half.  Maybe.

Friend:  I hope so, because they take six to eight weeks to process everything.

Me:  Shit.

So, today, we sent an email to our planning officer asking her about sending things to Building Standards and our planning officer very helpfully told us:

Yes you need to forward these to both myself [sic] (in order to comply with the carbon neutrality condition) and also to building standards as they require the information for consideration as part of the warrant application.

I say “very helpfully”, but — really — why could we not have been told this at the planning application stage?  And why could our planning officer not have given us the phone number or email address of Building Standards in her email?

So, today, I called the planning office to ask for the number of Building Standards. (Yes, I could have Googled it, but was making a point.  To whom, I’m not sure.)  Our officer was out, and so I asked the person I was speaking to for the Building Standards contact information…which he didn’t know and didn’t have to hand.  He was helpful though and took my information so that Building Standards could return my call.  Which they did within fifteen minutes.

To make a long story short: our architect liaises with Building Standards…and might have already done so.  My goodness, I sure hope so.  The last thing we need is to wait until mid-November to receive building warrant.  If that happens, it is unlikely foundations will be able to be laid until spring of next year.

So, tomorrow we call our architect and try to get to the bottom of things.  Wish us luck.

* * * * * *

1. External Finishes
  • Wall render (house and garage): smooth render; British Standard Colour 08-C-31
  • Timber Cladding: cedar cladding with clear coat sealant
  • Rain Water goods (house and garage): black plastic UPVC rainwater pipes and gutters
  • House Finishes (windows, doors): All to be RAL 7012; windows either timber or timber with aluminium cladding. 
  • Garage Finishes (windows, doors): All to be RAL 7016; windows either timber or timber with aluminium cladding.
3. Landscaping
  1. All current vegetation will be retained.
  2. No new individual trees will be planted, as their is already a variety of mature species.  A mixed hedge on the SW border will be planted, as per the attached drawing.
  3. Schedule of plants:
    1. Species: Beech, Hawthorn, and Blackthorn, as per the attached drawing.  Depending on availability, we also intend to include some or all of the following: gooseberry, Guelder Rose, Viburnum
    2. Plant sizes: 0.6-0.8m
    3. Numbers: As necessary to complete the required border length.
    4. Density: Whips will be planted in a staggered double row roughly 0.5m apart. The spacing of each plant will depend on how quickly and how big it will grow, but will be roughly 1m apart.
  4. Hard Landscaping: concrete paving that resembles stone paving in the patio area.
  5. No existing trees to be removed.  Although it was recommended that two trees be removed as they were within the final 10 years of their life, we are conscious that such trees are an important habitat for insects.  As the two trees are not in danger of falling over, we choose to keep them as they are.
  6. All landscaping will be completed during the planting season immediately following the commencement of the development.  As indicated in the planning permission, any planting which, within a period of 5 years from the completion of the development, dies, is severely damaged, or seriously diseased will be replaced by plants of similar size and species to those originally required to be planted.
4. Bat Box
  • Three Schwegler bat boxes will be purchased (General Purpose Bat Box 2F).  This box was recommended by Wildlife & Country Services (www.wildlifeservices.co.uk) as being the most suitable for the brown long-eared bat.
  • The boxes will be set up around the circumference of one of the Douglas Fir trees near the entrance of the drive in accordance with the advice given from the Bat Conservation Trust webpages.
7. Water supply
  • It is our intention to use the existing well on the property and that the dwellinghouse not be connected to the public water supply.
  • In order to use the well safely, a treatment system will be put into place after the required testing has been completed.
9.  Energy Statement and SAP documents:
  • attached to this email
10. Driveway and Parking details
  • Parking / turning area will be tar macadam
  • driveway to be graded & compacted aggregate, the same or similar to that of the current make-up of the shared driveway.
11. Protective Fencing details
  • The building company has a copy of the original tree report’s fencing recommendations and will erect Harris chain link style fencing to protect the trees.

In the end, we did send our planning officer all of the information that she required before the deadline of September 3rd.  (Whew!)  I learned a couple of things along the way, however.

1. There is something called a RAL colour chart.  It has hundreds of paint colours and standardises them across the building industry.  (In case you’re interested, our window frames and doors are going to be RAL 7012.  Not exciting, but typical of this area, less expensive than other paints because of this — I kid you not — and will elicit a sure-fire “yes” from the planning office.)

2. Look at your final plans and don’t assume anything.  For instance, on our final plans, the ones submitted to the planning officer, there are little bars drawn across the little windows.  I assumed this was a pretty way of drawing windows.  When I went to NorDan to get a quote, I found out that instead this was a promise to the planners that we would be including glazing bars across the middle of all of our windows.

Well, shit.

Is this something that could be changed by submitting an amendment to warrant?  My architect didn’t think so.  Still, I think we’ve caught it in time since we have not yet had everything signed off.  I’ll find out on Monday when I get a call back from our planning officer.

Our planning permission was granted 3 years ago this coming September 3rd.  Or so we thought.  Turns out that we missed replying to a (very important) email from our planning officer asking us to confirm 1) what we’re doing about providing a home for the bats; 2) what our materials are going to be for our house; and 3) what are our landscaping plans?

Question 1, I understand why she asked it.  Questions 2 and 3 are written on our plans.  The plans we submitted and were official and from a real, live, certified architect whose job it is to put that information on the plans.  Our builder informs us that we still have to answer the questions even though the planning office already has the answers, and that this is usual practice.  Also, there is some paperwork he has to fill out and return.  In three days.  Or our planning application is invalidated.


Still, everyone is on it and answers should be before the deadline.  (I answered the bat question.  Our planning lady was all, “What?  You want to put up three bat boxes?  Not just one?  I’ll have to check that with our bat expert.”  Me: “Ummm…okay?  Looking forward to hearing back from you?”)



This week our architect has been on fire!  Within three days, he has sorted out the look and layout of our revised elevations; he will be meeting with our builder at the site, tomorrow, to see first hand where the house needs to be positioned on the plans; and he will send everything off to the planners for approval on Friday.  Then he goes on vacation.

Our builder popped around, today.  (We live in the same town and he’s a face-to-face kind of guy.) He figures that once our planner has the papers it will take about three weeks for her to give the okay for the lateral movement of the building site…which is just about when our builder returns from vacation.  This is a much better timeline than the three months I was expecting.

Still, I don’t think I’ll hold my breath.  You shouldn’t, either.


Just when we think we are making progress…

Word has come back to us from the planning office via our architect that if we want to build the house 8 meters from where it is currently situated on our drawings (so that it will be on firmer ground, not near the well, not sitting under trees and over tree roots), we will have to re-apply for full planning permission.

Full.  Fucking.  Planning. Permission.

Yep.  I said ‘Fucking’.  Not clever and not pretty, but it certainly sums up how I feel right now.

Ah, my friends.   Hello.


Yes, our site has been scraped and roughly levelled.  The lady with the GPS-thingy and the neon paint has been to mark the corners of our buildings onto the dirt as they relate to the plans signed off by the planners.

Which brings us to the first hitch:  the house and the garage, as marked on the plans, are too far to the North-East, sitting almost on top of the well and definitely on top of lots of lovely, large tree roots.  We agree with our builder that everything needs to be moved 8 meters to the South-West; however, he needs permission from the planning office to do this.  *sigh*  (Would we have to go to the planners for such as this if building in Canada?  I’d love to know.)

This is certainly a delay for the builder, as he wanted to start pouring the foundations for the garage this coming Monday.  In the big picture, though, since this problem did occur, it’s good that it has occurred now.  We have to go back to the planners, anyway, because we have changed the look of the outside of the house.  We have removed a few windows and added a few more, and — on the advice of the builder — we have increased the height of the porch to bring it up to the second storey, allowing us to move the upstairs bathroom to this space, giving us more room for storage.  Remember:  UK houses don’t have basements, so storage is at a premium.

We go back to the planners via the architect, rather than the builder at this point, but he was on a motorcycle trip this week . We’re hoping he can send off the changes to the planners by the end of next week.  When will the planners get back to us with a decision?  I’ve been told perhaps three weeks.  Do keep your fingers crossed for us.

making memories#






Me: “The lilacs are blooming at the croft…”




You: “Wait.  WHAT?  Is that a backhoe behind those lilac bushes?  Are those the actual lilacs at the actual croft?  Does that mean….?  Oh.  I’m feeling a bit faint; I need to sit down.”