Archtectural designers and planning consultants are often undervalued by anyone who has not been through the painful process of applying for planning permission. Once you have dealt with the local planning authority, you will appreciate the knowledge, training and experience of these professionals. Planning guidelines are constantly changing, every year new guidance is issued to planning authorities from central government, on top of the local council's own policies and other regulations instituted by other government bodies (HSE) which defines the law as to how buildings are built.
Building regulations are there to ensure the safety, health and convenience of people who live or work in a buildings and those who live or work in the surrounding area. Since 2000 building regulations have also dictated the minimum levels of water and energy efficiency in buildings, something which needs to be taken into consideration. These regulations affect the vast majority of new buildings and alterations to existing buildings, so they need to be considered for all domestic, commercial and industrial properties in England and Wales.
If you are building a new home, or building a garage or extension onto your home, you will be entering a legal minefield. Some extensions and outbuildings are 'permitted development', but there are certain situations in which you would need planning permission. An extension of substantial size would need planning permission or if it reduces the space between your home and a public highway.
The dividing line between what is and is not a permitted development can be a little hazy at times. On top of this, stricter rules apply for properties with conservation zones (which include the centre of most Devon towns), Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or if a building is listed.
If you are embarking on a new build then you will find how complicated the whole process can be. By seeking the assistance of a planning consultant or an architectural designer you will have the support and guidance of someone who is a professional in getting a new developments approved. By having constantly updated working knowledge, an architectural designer or planning consultant will be able to design something which is a perfect compromise between what will be allowed and what you want.
Even if your planned development is not covered by planning regulations, it will be covered by building regulations and failing to abide by them is something which can cost you dearly. By seeking the services of a professional you are able to ensure that your chosen design is compliant with all relevant rules and regulations. This isn't something which the layman can confidently ensure, it can be a highly technical process and by seeking the assistence of a properly qualified architectural designer or planning consultant you will save yourself money in the long run. Not only because you will have any problems with the design corrected with before any bricks and mortar are laid, but also that you don't have the development torn down by court order for failing to adhere to a minor, but important, aspect of the building regulations.