COVID-19, Planning your Building Project

It is now over two weeks since the start of the COVID-19 ‘lock-down’ and the impact of the virus on the domestic construction market is becoming apparent.
Builders on some of our jobs have stopped work. Others have been making partially completed jobs safe, secure and weather tight. Jobs, where the builder can both keep to the social distancing rules and get supplies, are continuing to operate.
Some builder’s merchants are closed whilst others have limited stock and are operating a restricted service but, the Business Secretary has stated that he wants construction to continue.

Spending time at home in these current circumstances may have given you time to think about how you could improve your home. What can you do to plan your building project?

We are still working

Martin McCurdy Architecture is still working.
We are completing jobs in the pipeline and are open for new business.
For new business, we will provide architectural services to homeowners in Brighton and Hove as normally as possible, whilst ensuring that we comply with the COVID-19 restrictions, the social distancing rules, and safe hygiene practices.

What can’t we do?

We cannot and will not put you at risk of infection.

The latest Government guidance for surveyors (26 March 2020) states that urgent work carried out in people’s homes can continue, provided they are well and have no symptoms of COVID-19. So, we cannot come to your house and discuss your new project.
If we have agreed on terms of appointment with you, we cannot come to your house to carry out a full measured survey, which is usually the first stage of our services.
We cannot progress and submit a planning, listed building consent, or building regulations application without a full measured survey.

What can we do?

We can discuss your building project over the phone or using Zoom you can give us a virtual tour. We can then have a detailed discussion of the options and possibilities.

The government guidance also states that it may be possible to carry out surveys on empty properties, or those where the occupants are not there. So, if your house is empty, unoccupied or you have a detached building you want to convert or extend, we may be able to view and survey it without breaching the rules. If we do come to your property, we will comply with government COVID-19 rules.

Planning your building project

If you want to progress your building project, and are confident about your financial future now may be a good time to plan ahead so you are ready for when the restrictions are lifted.

Getting the necessary approvals and having sufficient information for a builder to be able to give you an estimate can be time-consuming. So, if you want to move your project on now could be the time to act.
If your building project requires planning approval or listed building consent it could take 6 months, or more, to get all the necessary approvals.
If your project can be carried out under permitted development rights and you only need building regulations approval this could be done in 3 months.

Getting a Builders Estimate

Before a builder can give you an estimate you will need planning approval and/or listed building consent (if required), the engineering details, and either building regulations approval or building regulations ready documentation.
A builder cannot visit your home but using the building regulations documentation they should be able to give you an estimate for your job. This estimate should be sufficient for you to decide if you wish to appoint them. However, given the uncertain future a builder is unlikely to commit to current prices for materials and when things are back to normal you will need them to provide you with a firm quotation.

How we can help

We cannot progress a building project to planning approval, listed building consent, and/or building regulations without a full measured survey. So, unless your building is empty, we cannot substantially start our service.

We can and would be very happy to discuss your project over the phone. Some photos or Google street view would be useful.
You could give us a virtual tour using Zoom, Skype or What’s App and we could have a good detailed discussion of the options and possibilities.
If you have an empty house or building, we should be able to progress your project up to a point where it is lined up ‘ready to go’.

For details of my other blogs please check out my website:

Please note this is a guide and is not a definitive source of technical and/or legal information.

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