Preparing for the unexpected

It is inherently difficult to plan concisely how a development project will evolve; this is because of the many different factors which affect the process from the first day to the last.

During the planning stages, understanding where potential problems/costs/time delays could come from is essential.

Below is a checklist of reports which may be requested during the process. It is worth considering the possibility of having to issue all of these as they’ll indicate where unexpected costs might arise from. This will inevitably save time and money and help you prepare for the (not so) unexpected difficulties.

Note that all of the below has to be tied in with planning regulations and legal requirements.

Below is a list of reports which may be requested during the process:

  1. Right to light?

  • Will any neighbours be affected once the work is done?
  1. Ease of access? (Easements)

  • Is infrastructure sufficient to support the scope of project?
    • Often investigations need to be undertaken to map how trucks and other suppliers will access the site. A project in a cul-de-sac, for example, will have to take more time planning when and how deliveries and removals take place.
  • Does anyone else have right to use the land?
    • Public footpaths, driveways and access to businesses may go through the development. Similar to when road-works take place, a workable solution must be planned ahead of time, be that diversions or traffic lights.
  1. Right of support?

  • Do/will the foundations impede any buildings adjacent to the development?
  1. Party wall agreements?

  • Could there be any boundary issues? To check this, you could use a web tool such as LandInsight
  1. Ground investigations

  • Considering the water table, voids in the ground, ground layers, properties of soil, ground sampling
  • How extensive have investigations been? Is it necessary to have more done?
    • Often developers need financing for a plot of land which they do not own, and they plan to purchase it at auction. There may be no ground investigations for the plot, or any that have been done may not be extensive enough for the what the developer has in mind
  • Does the surrounding area suggest a need for more extensive ground investigation? E.g. trees, nearby projects.
  1. Archaeological Evaluations

  • Is the current building or a part it of any historic importance? This will have to be checked with the council
  1. Contamination Report

  • Is there any likelihood of land degradation or soil pollution?
  • What has the area been used for in the past?
  1. Utilities quotes

  • Supply of utilities to the completed development will require quotes from utilities companies as delays in this can result in increased costs later
    • How far from the current utilities connections is the development?
    • Will there be any difficulties in making these connections?
  1. Structural Report

  • Comprehensive evaluation of each element of the property and its defects, outlining the causes and the cost to repair.
    • Is the current structure safe to bear the new one?
  • How likely is it that the current structures will require underpinning (i.e. strengthening the foundations)? This is particularly important for a renovation project
  1. Ecological Report

  • Survey of impacts of development on wildlife
  • Are you working in a wildlife protected area?
  • If a protected species is found, precautions will have to be made
    • From nesting birds to protected species of newt. Ecological fences will have to be put up around the perimeter of the site for non-aviary visitors.
  1. Flood Risk Report

  • Extent of report may help foresee potential problems with drainage and water levels later on in the project
  • Special planning conditions will have to be sought from the council if there is a level of flood risk, which will usually result in a change of design specification; primarily, the higher the risk of flooding, the higher the base floor level.
    • Understandably, the earlier one knows about this the better
  1. Asbestos Report

  • 20 tradespeople die a week from Asbestos related disease, asbestos is very common, and this check must be done.


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