Advice for Building a New Home in the UK for Families with Small Children

Collaborative post by another author. Families with small children often have a difficult time in finding a home suitable for little people. For this reason, many families look to have a home built to their specifications but there are some important things to consider first. It all starts at the point when you find land you would like to build on. In fact, this may be one of the most time consuming parts of the process!

canva pro stock image of blue print design for a home

UK Law and Planning Permission

If you find a piece of land in an area or neighbourhood that seems ideal for raising children, the first thing you will need to take care of is planning permission. However, even that has a few prerequisites if you hope to get permission from the local council. 

According to the Environment Act of 2021, an ecological survey must be conducted to protect and enhance the environment. Therefore, an ecological consultant would be contracted to ascertain that the environment will not be negatively impacted. 

A consultant such as the experts at Arbtech will schedule an ecological survey after which, if there are no problems, the survey will be submitted to the appropriate local council that will ultimately grant or deny planning permission. If the consultant finds problems, they can also recommend ways to mitigate dangers to the environment, thereby bringing the land up to compliance. Bear in mind that any construction, new-build or add-on, needs planning permission by law.

What your consultant will be looking at would be:

  • Any dangers to air or water quality.
  • Protection of natural habitats.
  • Increasing biodiversity.
  • Species in danger of extinction.

Although this is just some of what your consultant will be looking at in the survey, they are key points which must be addressed. At this point, blueprints for construction must be drawn up.

Focus on Exterior Elements

It is vital to work with an architect that understands UK law. In addition to compliance with the Environment Act of 2021, other exterior features must be considered when drawing up building plans and the layout of the home on specific property. Again, planning permission requires that:

  • Your new-build would not create a lack of privacy for neighbouring homes.
  • Your new-build would not interfere with direct light to neighbouring homes.
  • The exterior design would be in keeping with neighbouring structures.
  • Whether or not there would be restricted access.
  • Impact on highways running along the property.

These are items which are not considered on the ecological survey, but your architect may advise you to contract a topographical survey with the same company undertaking your ecological survey. While not mandated by law like the ecological survey, it can save you a great deal of frustration when trying to obtain that necessary planning permission. 

The topographical survey would also seek to ascertain any features that could prevent or delay building on that land — such things as buried foundations of previous structures or sloping areas upon which the home shouldn’t be built. Sometimes these slopes are invisible to the naked eye, but just steep enough to prevent a level construction.

Interior Design for Homes with Small Children

Safety and security always come first, especially for families with small children. In addition to the layout of the home that offers privacy to neighbours, you home should have windows and doors that enable unrestricted watch on children playing outdoors. 

After that, the layout of rooms is probably more important than you realised. It is almost impossible to keep small children from running through the kitchen while you are cooking, so it is recommended that you plan a kitchen with ‘through access.’ In this way, kids won’t be trapped behind you when you are working with hot foods.

Also, open space planning is ideal for several reasons. Not only is it trending, but it is a popular interior design feature because it makes an area appear much larger than it is. Open space design also lends itself to family lifestyle in that mums and dads can keep an eye on kids watching telly in the living room while they are enjoying after dinner coffee and playing a game of cards at the dining room table. 

One mistake that many families make when drawing up plans for their new-build is in thinking rooms can be small because little people don’t really need that much room, do they? You may be firmly entrenched in the idea that bedrooms should be reserved for sleeping in only. The thoughts on this follow the logic that if kids are allowed to play in their bedroom it might be difficult to get them to sleep at night. It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, if they are allowed to play in their room, you can hardly blame them for an inability to calm down and go to sleep!

In addition, it is good to remember that kids only stay little for so long. Before you know it, they will be pre-teens and teenagers which would require much more space. Try to find a way to keep bedrooms a suitable size for adults and older teens. Unfortunately, this is often something families overlook in an attempt to keep a home ‘small’ enough to keep construction costs low. Take space from some other room or by deleting a room that isn’t necessary to ensure bedrooms are ‘big enough to grow into.’

After the Basics

All of the above, while vitally important, are really just the basics. Once all the surveys are completed and the construction plans drawn up, everything must be submitted to the local council for planning permission. Whether you wait for your plans to be granted or contract a builder at earlier stages, it’s time to plan the actual construction. Bear in mind that all your plans and surveys can be submitted to lenders if you require a home loan. There are so many other things to consider but if anything from the above fails, it’s back to the drawing board. See to the legalities first and after that, the real work can begin.

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