No-one likes doing paperwork, but there are key permissions you must secure before you can proceed with building your own dream home.
We recommend employing a building professional – such as an architect or chartered surveyor – to act on your behalf during the planning process. HebHomes offers a one-stop planning and warrant service, although you are welcome to choose your own agent.
Here is a quick overview of the relevant procedures:
- Planning in principle (PIP)
If an estate agent is selling a piece of land, then it is likely that it will already have outline planning consent, known as ‘planning in principle’ in Scotland. This means that the council has given approval in principle for a house to be built on the site, but the design of the house is yet to be approved. Check for attached conditions; these are known as ‘reserved matters’ and must be met when a full application is lodged.
If you buy a piece of land in the Highlands of Scotland, you will need to ensure that the land is ‘decrofted.’ Land reform laws are changing how this system works, so it is wise to have a solicitor familiar with the issues and process acting on your behalf.
- Detailed planning permission
Full planning consent will approve the design of the house, as well as its site, how the access is configured, and how sewerage and storm water is dealt with. The council will consult with other statutory bodies, such as the water authority, during this process. If your proposal is in a sensitive area, government agencies such as English or Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland or the National Trust may be involved.
Remember there is never a guarantee that you will get full planning permission, as it is dependent on the policies and opinions of local authorities and their officials. Pre-Planning consultation should be undertaken before lodging an application to maximise chances of success.
Local authorities are responsible for administering the planning system, but there is plenty of information available online about the national guidelines. Information about the planning system in Scotland can be found here; information on Northern Ireland here; on England and Wales here.
- Building warrant
Once you have secured full planning permission, the next step is a building warrant – that is, approval from your local authority’s building standards department. This system varies in different parts of the UK, but in Scotland you cannot build until you have full council-approved warrant drawings. These drawings show details of the structure, the internal layout, electrics, plumbing and heating system. An engineer's certificate, as well as data illustrating the energy efficiency for the house is also required.
The Building Standards department will require a Structural Engineers Register-approved engineer to provide a certificate (known as an SER certificate) to confirm that the proposed build meets all the required structural standards. This certificate covers all elements of the build, including the foundations and other non-kit elements. We will provide detailed engineering information for the kit itself but we cannot provide foundation or blockwork engineering. You will therefore need an external engineer to provide this information and the SER certificate. We will provide the energy efficiency (SAP Test) calculation for the house.
More information about the buildings standards system can be found here.
Each of these applications will entail a fee. Planning fees in Scotland are generally in the region of £320, but you may be required to pay more if your proposal needs to be advertised. You will also have also to pay for the carrying out of percolation tests if you are intending to use a septic tank and soakaway. Warrant fees are based on a sliding scale relating to the assumed cost of your house.