Alexandra Cork Home Designs has been nominated for an award! I’m pleased to say we’ve been nominated in the ‘LABC best partnership with a local authority building control team’ category. What are the LABC Awards, I hear you say? As LABC say-
The Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Awards celebrate all that’s good in the construction industry. Our awards aren’t really about aesthetics, instead we look for other vital elements in the creation of excellent buildings: outstanding craftsmanship, technical innovation, sustainability and high performance.
We also seek the ‘X’ factor – a special working relationship with LABC that solves technical problems, uses innovative products or creates a new solution. Our top winners demonstrate an excellent working relationship between LABC surveyors and the people responsible for the building work.
And size doesn’t matter! LABC is delighted to recognise excellence in all types of building projects: residential extensions and conversions, new homes, schools and education, retail and commercial, health and care, industrial, high rise or notable public buildings and stadia.
I have been nominated for the Best Partner award by BathNES Building Control, who I work closely with on almost all projects. As part of my entry, I wrote the following, to summarise why the partnership I have with BathNES B.C. works so well for me and my clients-
During my previous employment I was involved in a partnership with B&NES, and found the relationship such a positive and useful one, that I immediately went about setting up my own, when I created Alexandra Cork Home Designs in 2010.
The projects I work on are predominantly small to medium sized residential extensions, conversions and alterations, and I work directly with home owners. They’re normal people, they have no interest in creating a ‘grand design’, but they want (or need) to develop their home, to bring it to a modern standard, or to create just a little more space, or alter the layout so their home works for a family in the 21st century. They’re excited about their ideas, it’s a big deal to them, altering their home forever, in what will be a costly and disruptive process, and they often feel overwhelmed and nervous about the process, how it works, what is involved, and rely on me to guide them through. Their first step- the planning process- often seems confusing and, all too often acrimonious, it doesn’t feel proactive, and getting information and guidance from the local authority is difficult, time consuming and hedged with caveats. It’s frustrating for everyone.
The contrast with the Building Regulation process, carried out via a partnership, couldn’t be greater. Over 6yrs, hardly a week has gone by without some contact with B&NES Building Control, and it is always a positive and helpful experience. I have been given guidance at all stages of a project- sometimes before I’ve even sent a quote for it, let alone been appointed, or after the build is complete. No question is ever too much trouble, and the team have a great feel for what factors are important to my clients- often, budget, time and space can make all the difference to a successful and worthwhile home extension, and this guidance is critical at an early stage, and throughout.
As home extensions and alterations are, by their nature, having to be inserted into existing spaces, we sometimes have to work around a variety of existing constraints, and this can often lead to a need for an alternative approach to work around the issue, having a partnership has been a great and proactive way to come up with solutions.
I have previously worked directly with Local Authority building control, but found the lack of consistent advice made life difficult, and having to chase a range of different inspectors, in different authorities, was time consuming. I’ve also worked with approved inspectors, but found they have a more ‘relaxed’ approach which made me question if I was really getting the best for my clients. Having a Local Authority partnering agreement has been brilliant solution, and I find, once explained to my prospective clients, they take great comfort and confidence in knowing that a source of direct, thorough, accurate, helpful and clear Building Control advice is available to me, and therefore, to them.