Those essential pieces of paper which allow you to proceed with building your dream home. We would always recommend you use a professional such as an architect to act as your agent for the planning application. However, the rough guide below gives some useful pointers to getting started.
Planning in Principle (PIP)
If an estate agent is selling a piece of land, then it is most likely that it will have outline planning consent, referred to 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 has not been approved. Check also for attached conditions; these are known as reserved matters and must be met when a full application is lodged.
Full planning consent gives approval for the design of the house. It will also show where the house is sited, 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 application. If your proposal is in a sensitive area, government agencies such as English or Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and a variety of other "quangos" may get 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 any application is lodged to maximixe chances of success.
There is a wealth of information about the Planning system and links to local authorities (who are responsible for administering the Planning system within a given area) online.
For Scotland information can be found at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Planning.
For Northern Ireland information can be found at www.planningni.gov.uk
For Eire planning information can be found here
For England and Wales information can be found at www.planningportal.gov.uk.
If you are buying a piece of land in the Highlands of Scotland, you will have to ensure that the land is "decrofted" before you purchase it. This applies where you are buying housing land from a croft. While land reform is changing how this system works, it is wise to have a solicitor familiar with the process acting on your behalf.
Once you have full planning permission, the next step is building warrant - meaning approval by your local authority's Building Standards department. While this system varies in different parts of the UK, 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 required.
The Building Standards department will require a Structural Engineers Register approved engineer to provide a certificate, known as an S.E.R., 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 S.E.R. certificate.
We will provide the energy efficiency (S.A.P. Test) calculation for the house.
See http://www.sbsa.gov.uk for detailed information about the building standards system in Scotland.
Not surprisingly, each of these applications entail fees. While planning fees in Scotland are generally in the region of £319, you may be required to pay more if your proposal requires to be advertised. You will also have 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.
No matter which country you are building in, whether it be Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland or further a field, statutory consents will have to be given before building work can commence. Local knowledge is invaluable, and appointing a professional agent to act on your behalf is advisable.
For the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) see http://www.rics.org
For the Royal Institute of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) see http://www.rias.org.uk