Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Building Works

So, for those of you that have been around for awile, I’ve been having problems getting planning permission for an extension. A combination of a wiley not very friendly neighbour and a planning officer using his powers somewhat inappropriately in my view.

My architect and I have been working the issue for a while. I’ve had meetings with the mayor, who is oddly powerless under labours planning laws. We have John Prescott to thank for a situation where planning is essentially independent of local councils, though oddly somewhat independent of central government as well. Bureaucrats with too much independent power without oversight is not a good thing generally.

Finally, in the last month, our work bore fruit, though not exactly as planned. We put in two plans, both which had been pre-discussed and pre-agreed (as much as they can pre-agree) with the planners. We’d hoped both would get approved, expected one would get approved as one was a bit of a stalking horse.

Sure enough, one got approved, but it was the stalking horse plan. Its actually not a bad design, quite suitable for a 1930’s art deco house, but it means a rather large expanse of flat roof. We’re more than a little shocked as our local planning guidelines have strong objections to flat roves. The interior will be fab, its just that flat roof. Is that really what we want? We’ve been in an absolute quandary, but over the holiday, decided to go ahead so long as the build costs are not outrageous.

So now its all steam ahead. We’re looking to our green credentials and I’m busy investigating water treatment systems and geothermal heating and solar power. I will not put up a wind turbine, we just don’t get enough wind, so it would be silly. Every other option though, we will investigate fully. For the flat roof, I finally got LL excited by talking her though options for a roof top garden.

That’s all the exciting bit. On the rather daunting side is the build itself. This is going to be a big one. Part of the plans are replacing a rather aged septic tank, plus the sewage plumbing runs under the space being built on. We’ll have to move out of the house for a period of time, which is not a nice thought. Plus there will be the usual disruption of builders everywhere, walls being knocked through, floors dug up. Its going to be a messy summer I think.


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