Which pro to seek advice from, pre-building-control?

I'm just about to embark on doing up my house; plans include stuff like:
- window replacements - fitting window in existing wall - forming doorway in a loadbearing wall - removing part of a brickwall (is it loadbearing or not?) - building stud partitions to form new room - conversion of adjoining outhouses into living accomodation
I plan to do most of the work myself (I've done most of the tasks before so am not particularly concerned about overstretching my abilities!) and will be doing it on a Building Notice. However, I have some specific and not-so-specific queries and want to get somebody in to check out my ideas are sound and that I won't come a cropper when the BCO comes calling.
It's difficult to ask all the appropriate questions here, as there's a lot, and I probably need something official to wave at Building Control.
It's things like - I suspect that the existing windows aren't supported by lintels; is that so, and will this need sorting before I fit uPVC ones..... what lintel spec do I need for my new doorway... what exactly will I need to do to the outhouse to bring it up to standard, esp in terms of the foundations, floor, roof structure.... etc etc
Question is, who should I employ to come and inspect the property so I can ask these questions, and more? Is there one person? I suspect much of this would fall within a structural engineer's remit, but others not. A surveyor or quantity surveyor - not sure what they do? I don't really want to ask Building Control directly what's needed as I suspect they'd give me all the 'ideal' stock answers, rather than 'real world' answers which would be perfectly acceptable and would pass inspection but at a much lower cost.
Any thoughts much appreciated
Dave
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In an earlier contribution to this discussion,

In your position, I would employ a structural engineer to sort out the structural aspects of apertures in structural walls and lintels for new windows.
Despite what you say, I would then go and discuss what I wanted to do with a BCO. In my experience, they are very helpful and don't generally give OTT advice. After all, they - or one of their colleagues - have to sign it off when done, and you're in a much stronger position if you have already discussed it with them - particularly since you are doing it on a building notice and not submitting plans for approval. I would still draw the plans, and show them to the BCO. even though they're not being formally submitted, you'll get a lot of good informal advice.
I would also speak to the planners - particularly if you are doing anything which changes the external appearance, like extra doors and windows. Also check whether or not the change of use of an out-house into living accommodation is a planning issue.
--
Cheers,
Set Square
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An Architect will be able to advise on all matters of a building nature, from design and planning considerations to a working knowledge of domestic structures, current Building regulations and buiding methods.
-- KEVIN BRADY, Oxford _____________________ replies to newsgroup only mail to reply address is automatically deleted from server
wrote:<BR><BR>&gt; I'm just about to embark on doing up my house; plans include stuff<BR>&gt; like:<BR>&gt;<BR>&gt; - window replacements<BR>&gt; - fitting window in existing wall<BR>&gt; - forming doorway in a loadbearing wall<BR>&gt; - removing part of a brickwall (is it loadbearing or not?)<BR>&gt; - building stud partitions to form new room<BR>&gt; - conversion of adjoining outhouses into living accomodation<BR>&gt;<BR>&gt; I plan to do most of the work myself (I've done most of the tasks<BR>&gt; before so am not particularly concerned about overstretching my<BR>&gt; abilities!) and will be doing it on a Building Notice.&nbsp; However, I<BR>&gt; have some specific and not-so-specific queries and want to get<BR>&gt; somebody in to check out my ideas are sound and that I won't come a<BR>&gt; cropper when the BCO comes calling.<BR>&gt;<BR>&gt; It's difficult to ask all the appropriate questions here, as there's<BR>&gt; a lot, and I probably need something official to wave at Building<BR>&gt; Control.<BR>&gt;<BR>&gt; It's things like - I suspect that the existing windows aren't<BR>&gt; supported by lintels; is that so, and will this need sorting before I<BR>&gt; fit uPVC ones..... what lintel spec do I need for my new doorway...<BR>&gt; what exactly will I need to do to the outhouse to bring it up to<BR>&gt; standard, esp in terms of the foundations, floor, roof structure....<BR>&gt; etc etc<BR>&gt;<BR>&gt; Question is, who should I employ to come and inspect the property so<BR>&gt; I can ask these questions, and more?&nbsp; Is there one person?&nbsp; I suspect<BR>&gt; much of this would fall within a structural engineer's remit, but<BR>&gt; others not.&nbsp; A surveyor or quantity surveyor - not sure what they do?<BR>&gt; I don't really want to ask Building Control directly what's needed as<BR>&gt; I suspect they'd give me all the 'ideal' stock answers, rather than<BR>&gt; 'real world' answers which would be perfectly acceptable and would<BR>&gt; pass inspection but at a much lower cost.<BR>&gt;<BR>&gt; Any thoughts much appreciated<BR>&gt;<BR>&gt; Dave<BR><BR>In your position, I would employ a structural engineer to sort out the<BR>structural aspects of apertures in structural walls and lintels for new<BR>windows.<BR><BR>Despite what you say, I would then go and discuss what I wanted to do with a<BR>BCO. In my experience, they are very helpful and don't generally give OTT<BR>advice. After all, they - or one of their colleagues - have to sign it off<BR>when done, and you're in a much stronger position if you have already<BR>discussed it with them - particularly since you are doing it on a building<BR>notice and not submitting plans for approval. I would still draw the plans,<BR>and show them to the BCO. even though they're not being formally submitted,<BR>you'll get a lot of good informal advice.<BR><BR>I would also speak to the planners - particularly if you are doing anything<BR>which changes the external appearance, like extra doors and windows. Also<BR>check whether or not the change of use of an out-house into living<BR>accommodation is a planning issue.<BR>-- <BR>Cheers,<BR>Set Square<BR>______<BR>Please reply to newsgroup. Reply address is invalid.<BR><BR></BLOCKQUOTE></BODY></HTML>
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wrote:

snip
Thank very much to everyone for their replies to this.

I've just gone ahead and booked one!

Sure, I do take your point, and will certainly talk to the BCO too before doing anything (been there, done that, so I'm well aware of the pitfalls...)
What I'm not clear about is what notice will they take of an engineer's specs: just for example, if the BCO were to tell me that I would need to fit lintels before renewing the windows, and I have a report from a CEng MIStructE engineer saying it's not necessary to do so, does that carry any weight? Or do I just have to do as I'm told?!

I know they aren't bothered about the windows, but good point about the outhouse: hadn't considered that possibility.
Dave
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In an earlier contribution to this discussion,

I don't think there's likely to be a conflict. If the brickwork above the windows is currently being held up by wooden window frames, it's very unlikely that your structural engineer will say that you don't need lintels when using plastic windows instead. But, as others have said, you may already have lintels even if you can't see them. My house was built with concrete lintels on the inner skin (covered by plaster, of course) and lengths of 4" angle supporting the outer brickwork. From the outside, all you can see is one edge of this angle - and a lot of that is covered by frame sealant!
--
Cheers,
Set Square
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Thanks; I clearly need to do some more investigating about the lintels (it was an experienced joiner/builder eyeballing them who agreed that it was more than likely they are absent, but some diagnosic surgery looks necessary!)
As an aside... if the house WAS built with no lintels over the original wooden-framed windows, could I get away with replacing them like with like, or presumably would my BCO friend kick off at that one? And presumably I'd still need to Acro everything up anyway while the work was ongoing?
Dave
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In an earlier contribution to this discussion,

I don't claim any specific expertise in this, but I doubt whether a BCO would accept a replacement without a lintel. The original frames probably have substantial ears which are built into the walls. It may be difficult to replicate this with replacements. Wood rots, anyway!
AIUI, the new windows will have to meet current energy efficiency regs - so are unlikely to be exactly like for like.
Don't know about Acros. Depends on window width and what else is being held up by the brickwork over the window. Get your structural engineer to advise.
--
Cheers,
Set Square
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Dave P wrote:

How old is your place? If relatively modern there could be Catnic (or equiv) lintels in there. You'd see nothing from the outside...
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Mebbe, yes... think I'll try some tentative drilling tomorrow!
Age: good question - I'd guess at 1950s or something? But actually, out of interest, how do you find out the age of a property? The deeds I've got don't help; they seem to 'start' at the point where the property was sold off by the council.
Dave
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Dave P wrote:

I'd tend to think that the lintels are hiding in there someplace, as a quick and dirty test try drilling with a regular hammer drill and masonry bit, roughly where you would expect them to be. If you start to struggle after and inch or so, then odds are you've hit the lintel.

what exactly is the structure it will be supporting? As a startng point have a quick look around lintel manufacturers and see wht they do for the opening that you require...odds are there will be a standard product.

Read the building regs...you'll need to do everything it says in them :-) one of the main points being the insulation. The founds may also need reinforcing, but this will require the current ones to be exposed so that they can be exmained.

a structural engineer sounds like a good bet.

a quantity surveyor will tell you how hmany lintels and brick you need and eth rough cost, but he won't know the real structual info.

BCO's are not out to get you, talk to them for some general advice. If you submit your plans to the bco for approval before you start all this then there is less chance of them tripping you up later on.
If you want to do some background reading then I've seen a book along the lines of "The builing regulations explained..." ans as a genersal intro to some of the structural details see if you can find any books locally by Chudley such as "construction technology".
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Dave P wrote:

Just to fully muddy the water, some surveyors' offices have departments that deal with design work as well as the more 'expected' inspection function. I used to work in just such a one. Another option would be an architectural technician. These people tend to do the donkeywork design, not the arty-farty stuff and would probably be cheaper.
Andrew
Andrew
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