The relaxation of rules towards affordable housing and tariff style contributions under the National Planning Practice Guidance has resulted in a glut of revised planning applications being submitted by landowners, home owners and small scale property developers.
The new rules came into force towards the end of 2014 and means the thresholds have been lowered so affordable housing and tariff style planning obligations (section 106 planning contributions) should not be sought from developments of 10-units or less, and which have a maximum combined gross floorspace of no more than 1000sqm.
It means no affordable housing or tariff-style contributions should be sought from developments below these levels unless the planning authority considers they are necessary to make the development acceptable.
This is good news for small scale developments which have stalled due to viability, as there is the potential for applications to be resubmitted and onerous obligations removed. Those successful in their revised planning applications will now be on the lookout for builders to crack on with the work, once consent has been granted.
Joanna Mulgrew, director at HBXL, the estimating software specialists said: “The reduction in the obligation thresholds will enable landowners to maximise returns when looking to develop their land and should help unlock some applications.”
Mulgrew believes builders wanting to be in the box seat when it comes to tender for this work will need to be able to turn their estimates around quickly and accurately and why she advocates EstimatorXpress.
She added: “Using up-to-date material price lists direct from builder’s merchants means nothing is left out. All builders have to do is input dimensions into on screen drawings and it does the rest providing a total estimate.
“Those wanting to take their service one step further can also use PlansXpress which enables the user to create architect quality drawings ideal for planning applications as well as photo realistic, three-dimensional visuals to help secure planning consent.
“PlansXpress also links directly to EstimatorXpress so once a drawing is complete, within seconds a full estimate can be produced right down to the last nail or screw. If plans already exist, these can be easily scanned using PlansXpress and then transferred automatically to EstimatorXpress.”
One company that is already using HBXL’s ‘visual estimating’ system is Worthy Builders in Reading. Originally focusing on commercial build projects, continuous requests from customers resulted in the business branching out into more residential work towards the end of 2014.
Its success has now seen the team, which includes Bob Owles, turn to HBXL to help cope with the number of quotes required.
Originally Bob used HBXL’s Estimating Service and was impressed enough to then buy the software outright to do the estimating himself. He now saves hours that would have otherwise been spent calling merchants asking for the latest material prices.
Bob said: “The software has helped with the transition into the residential property sector. It helps speed up the process of estimating enormously and is a great saver of man hours.
“The software gives us more control from the moment we receive an enquiry to providing the quote. Also it doesn’t take very long to do what was a very monotonous job and makes Worthy Builders look more professional.
“There is no way we’d go back to old was of estimating and I now like the software so much I’d prefer to estimate a double garage rather than watch TV on the weekends!”