BCCB 3 – From Planning to Site Start

Our third blog is now live on the Build It magazine website and describes how the scheme progressed from planning to preparing for the start on site…

From Planning to Site Start

Planning permission was achieved in December 2014. In the end, it was a relatively painless process. We’d drummed up as much support for our proposals as we could from friends, colleagues and neighbours, and the planners were supportive of the scheme, favouring an unashamedly modern approach over the previously approved proposal. There were only 5 objections and so approval was achieved without the scheme needing to go to committee.

Whilst the project was being approved we had pressed on with talking to lenders and finalising how we were to constitute ourselves. After taking advice from both the Ecology Building Society (who had emerged as our preferred lender) and our lawyer we had agreed to set up a limited company ‘Bath Street Collective Custom Build’ which would act as the client. This company would borrow the necessary funding required for the construction and when the build was complete each of the individual participants would then buy their flat from BCCB to allow the funding to be repaid. We spent quite some time working through the necessary Shareholders Agreement and Articles of Association trying to foresee all the potential pitfalls we might come across – what would happen if someone no longer wanted to be part of the project; what would happen if one of the parties defaulted on their borrowing repayments, etc. This proved to be time well spent when our builder colleague pulled out of the project in the Spring of 2015. Fortunately he was immediately replaced with another local family who took over the interest not only in his 2 bedroom flat, but also in the adjacent ‘spare’ 1 bedroom flat. A quick redesign of these spaces into one large 4 bedroom flat and we had a full complement again!

With planning permission achieved it was now ‘squeaky bum time’ in terms of committing to the project and buying the site. A number of us had already sold up and moved into rented accommodation in order to raise the funding we needed to buy the land. There were some delays on the vendor’s side but the site was eventually purchased on 4th June 2015.

The next few months were spent finalising the design prior to going out to tender. We had a couple of main contractors prepare outline costings based on our planning drawings to review against our budget. We engaged a former engineer colleague of mine, Paul Jenkins, who now ran his own practice Create Engineering to provide structural engineering support. We selected a Spanish company, Egoin, to supply the CLT frame. We met with window suppliers, stone cladding subcontractors, zinc cladding subcontractors, Reglit (who supplied the cast glass we were proposing to use), electrical subcontractors and potential suppliers of the mechanical ventilation system. By the autumn we were ready to go out to tender to 3 local main contractors and tender returns were received in November 2015. The best tender return was from H.M. Raitt and Sons, a family run contractor based only a couple of miles down the road from the site. Their tender was around 5% higher than our budget and we spent the end of the year and the first few weeks of 2016 fine tuning the design and retendering some elements with alternative subcontractors to bring the costs into line with what we could afford.

Our next main hurdle was to formally apply for the funding from the Ecology Building Society. Despite having been in close contact with them for the last year or so, there was a lot of detail to be resolved and numerous queries. Eventually, by April, we were at last ready to start building!