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About Xerxes

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  1. Just a wee anecdote for you BVI. I built a large factory back in the late 90's and Pattons were the main contractor. They had a dedicated guy on site who tidied up and did general errands ( to be PC he wasnt the cleverest guy in the world). We had site meetings every Friday lunchtime and suprisingly after each one this guy would find a twenty pound note scrumpled up in the gutter on the access road. Turns out Davy was leaving them there for him to make sure he was doing his job and as thank you. As yu say - True gent.
  2. Sorry VI I in turn I disagree. Occupation has no relevance in planning law. I have dealt with several cases were people have built houses or put up mobile homes without PP and tried to face the planners down. They are always faced with proving how the dwelling complied with the incumbent PPS at that time.
  3. For me this situation is the epitomy of the tragedy that is occuring in our construction industry. I have worked with Pattons since the 80's and they were easily the most assured, accommodating and professional construction firm I have employed and that includes huge multi nationals throughout the world. What I dont understand is how their business model did not provide a sufficient firewall between their development and construction arms.
  4. There is no such "rule". If the house is not as per approved plans it is deemed to be in "non compliance" - end of. You have to apply for PP and the planners are not bound to approve it. If you are dead set on buying the property the normal way around this is for the vendors solicitor to put an insurance policy in place against the value of the non compliant works at the vendors expense.
  5. As an architect I can give you a wee bit of advice from that perspective - I obviously cant comment on whether sites are at their bottom value yet or not - can anyone? First thing - dont just look at sites with Outline Planning permission for a house. There are plenty of sites out there with full planning permission with designs fully prepared - but you can always re-apply for PP for "Change of house type". This will let you have a house designed to your requirments AND will give you another 5 years (sometimes just 3) from approval until you have to start construction. This is what all the banks have been doing to keep the PP on repossessed sites - it's keeping alot of my colleagues in work! So main considerations - 1.Land ownership -does the vendor own all the land required to comply with the PP - this particularly refers to the land required for visibility splays at the site entrance to a public road.(Though in alot of circumstances the splays will mostly lie in the public verge). 2. Access- in this buyers market you should be able to avoid buying a site with a shared access - an absolute priority. 3. Services - Septic tank most likely reqiuired- how will it's outflow drain away? - into a river or sub strata soakaway - if so do you need an easement to reach the river or have enough land area for the soakaway. Is there a water mains available - is it on the right side of the public road - if not it will cost more to get a connection and always apply for a builders connection when you first acquire the site as this will give you water to actually build the house. Electricity - NI Power are a complete nightmare to deal with ( someone should end that monopoly!!) You will most likely require an new supply with transformer - so look to see where the nearest overhead mains are. Only good thing is NI Power will sort out all easements and walleaves to take cables over neighbours land. BT - good to deal with. They will survey the site and supply you with cable and trunking at a cost. 4. Design issues Site aspect - I see so many badly designed houses which ignore where South is, which direction the prevailing winds come from,etc etc. Don't go nuts - I've had to rein in so many clients who want huge 5000sqFt houses which are expensive to heat, high rates and have never used 5th bedrooms etc. Smallish bedrooms, shared en-suites, single living/family room, etc ? Better to have a larger more impressive central living space.with smaller ancillary rooms - think before you leap. Green stuff - IMHO - in N.I. it is still better to spend money on higher insulation standards and more effcient boilers than wood chip boilers/solar panels etc. 5. Insurance. If you are going to self build - get public liability insurance!!! If a plumber trips and breaks an leg on your site he will sue you. If someone breaks into the site to nick power tools etc and injures themselves - they will sue you. I have had clients who this has happened to - one to the tune of £20G. 6. Certification. If you have a builder as main contractor you can register the house through their NHBC / CRL accreditation or you can retain an architect to either manage the project or carry out interim inspections with certification issued againsyt his PI cover. If self build the bank will most likely insist on architects certification. I would say this but... in my experience NHBC are very good at avoiding liability should anything go wrong down the line. P.I. insurance companies tend to like to deal with matters swiftly. I'm sure theres plenty more - but that should get you thinking.
  6. It would be very informative to see Planning Service's data on applications processed in the past 5 years. One thing I am surprised at is how quickly central government moved to re-allocate planning staff in view of the reduction of aplications. A certain senior plnning officer for a very large South Antrim Planning area complained to me last year how his staff had been cut from 15 to 2 planning officers in 2008. Oh the horror. nd as a consequence they would not be conducting site visits - so build what you want people. Nuclear power station on Slemish anyone??
  7. I think one of the most interesting indicators of the populace's overall state of mind is the trend in planning applcations being lodged. Its a clear indication of how people see their future be they an individual or organisation. I've noticed that since this mess started not only have the overall number of applications dropped dramatically but there has been "trending" in the type of applications lodged. At the start of the crash there was a general rush of housing related applications as (I think) people tried a last deperate attempt to secure land value. Then for a year or so there was a raft of applications for house extensions as people thought either - "we cant move so lets improve" or "Im in trouble so better increase mortgage equity to 100% so the bank wont take my home off me." These applications died out as the banks lending started to correct itself. Then we had the brief fad of money making schemes being applied for - in particular wind turbines. But again these have dried up as people hear of the problems related to funding, pay back and the general expense and timeframe of the planning process. Now we seem to be left with applications for change of approved house type because it's the cheapest way of maintaining PP on a site for another 5 years AND the drip drip drip of farmers applying , and generally failing , to get PP for single dwellings as they find out the realities of PPS21. So at the minute, IMHO, we seem to be in a pretty desperate place. Again this is all personnal opinion and possibly because of my profession I have to stand a little too close to the black hole.
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