faqs

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frequently asked questions

Please select any of the frequently asked questions from the list below, but if you have any other queries, please don’t hesitate to email or call us on 0161 225 4000.

 

are these “pods” and how are they different to others?

Most of our buildings are not really “pods”, they might have some similarities, but they’re not designed and built like pods that can be found on the market.

Our dwelle.ings are proper buildings. We build very high quality eco-buildings that are still affordable. One key aim behind the concept is to create a living space that suits a wide market, it can be personalised and can also be extended or adapted over time. The way in which our dwelle.ings are manufactured, transported to site and assembled is and should be irrelevant to the end result.

We prefabricate them off-site which means that we can control the quality of the buildings better. By employing full-time trades people that know how to build, we can also reduce and reuse waste. Although, this process is not traditional or conventional we can manufacture and assemble a proper 3 or 4 bedroom house and even supply a “pod” that could be used as a home office or playroom… if you want.

are dwelle.ings available outside of the UK?

Not the standard dwelle.ing, not just yet. We’re currently investigating the best way to manufacture and transport our buildings to countries overseas.

We may be able to deliver the mobile dwelle.ing and little dwelle.ing to European countries, this would depend on the location and quantity required. The mobile version has actually been designed to meet European and French Legislation for mobile homes.

As soon as we have any further news we’ll let you know… please subscribe to our occasional newsletter for the latest news.

where can I see a dwelle.ing?

We have a show-dwelle.ing, the standard version, in Rusholme, Manchester, only a couple of miles from the city centre. We’re usually open to visitors at least 2 days a week or by appointment. Please see our contact page for current opening times and exact location.

do dwelle.ings require planning permission?

If you intend to use any building as a permanent home you will need planning permission. This includes our mobile dwelle.ing.

If you propose to use our dwelle.ing for other purposes, it may be that they could fall under “permitted development” that means they will not require a Full Planning Application. The Planning Portal have a very useful guide, and a mini-guide specifically for outbuildings.

We have considerable experience of gaining planning permission for new homes and can take the application for a dwelle.ing smoothly and successfully through the process. The dwelle.ing’s design, size and sustainability credentials will appeal to the planners and it should find favour over and above the standard house.

For a relatively low cost and an application that shouldn’t take any longer than a couple of months, the volume of space you will enjoy over many years will make the initial process justifiable and well worth it.

For self-builders new to the process, this Homebuilding & Renovating website page provides some very useful information.

are you able to provide land or building plots?

Unfortunately no, not yet. However, we are becoming increasingly involved in Custom Build projects where plots tend to be sold to individual homeowners – please visit our Custom Build page for more details and current projects.

If you’re looking for land or building plots in specific areas, you may find these websites useful:

Need-a-Plot – the Self Build Portal’s ‘Need-a-Plot’ tool
Plot Search – a subscription service from BuildStore
Plotfinder – from the publishers of Homebuilding & Renovating magazine
Perfect Plot – a family run land retailer

Also try Rightmove – on their search page you can select “land” in the “Property type” list.

You may want to contact local estate agents to inform them that you would be interested in vacant land, or properties requiring considerable repair work or in need of demolition.

Finally, you could sign up on The Local Self Build Register. Local authorities in England are required to research demand for self build plots in their area and from 1st April 2016 they will be legally obliged to maintain a list of people and groups interested in building their own homes.

 

I’m a land owner, can you help us to develop it?

Yes. Although we principally design and supply buildings, we can offer a comprehensive range of services from masterplanning to marketing. If you have land, we can help you to develop it, although this may be subject to local planning policy.

There is a huge demand for our homes, but people struggle to find land on which to put them. We can work with both individuals and property developers, potentially creating a Custom Build project with our own design code.

Please call Ric on 07976 704 532 to discuss further.

 

what is Custom Build and can you offer this?

Custom build is when people are able to specify an individual home through a more ‘hands-off’ journey, where an enabling developer delivers a spectrum of services – from just creating a serviced-plot right through to delivering a complete bespoke turn-key home for an individual or group of individuals.

Typically a developer will purchase a piece of land (large or small), obtain planning permission, carry out any enabling work to the site such as providing services and roads, then sell individual plots to the public. If we’re one of the eligible home manufacturers (and if we’re not, please ask for us!), we can then help you to customise one of our designs and build your home, to either a building shell or a fully fitted home.

Through this process, our homes can also be built with a special mortgage, making it a very easy and affordable way to have a high quality customisable home!

There are more details about Custom Build here: http://custombuildstrategy.co.uk/about-custom-build/

We’re involved in a number of Custom Build projects around the UK, including Heartlands in Cornwall and Graven Hill near Bicester.

Here is a website aimed at local authority planning and housing officers, development teams from housing associations, small builders and community organisations – all of whom may need guidance on how to facilitate more opportunities for people who want to build their own homes: http://customandselfbuildtoolkit.org.uk

Please also see www.dwelle.co.uk/custom-build for more details.

 

do you build the whole building?

We build the whole building from the foundations up, and will fully fit it out, painted and with floor finishes.

We can also just build the shell (including the cladding, door & windows, first fix services and internal lining) for you to complete yourself.

For the groundworks (foundations and service connections) we produce a design that can then be tendered or negotiated with a local third-party groundworks contractor. We will co-ordinate this part of the project, but the contract will be direct with you the client.

what do the prices include?

Our prices are broken down into 3 categories – the cost of the building shell, the building fully fitted-out and an approximate cost of what the total building project may be. Listed below are the elements that are included in each.

Savings can be as much as 20% on multiple dwelle.ings through larger quantities of materials and components and the sharing of preliminaries such as site equipment etc.

The highly specified building shell would include:

  •   •  insulated timber frame panel system with all membranes & fixings
  •   •  cladding and roofing – the standard option being a vertical Larch cladding
  •   •  external doors and windows – composite timber aluminium frames
  •   •  internal doors and ironmongery
  •   •  ventilation duct work
  •   •  first-fix plumbing and sanitary frames
  •   •  first fix electrics and cabling
  •   •  dry lining boards
  •   •  internal fittings such as skirting boards and balustrades

The fitting-out of a dwelle.ing would consist of:

  •   •  hot water cylinder
  •   •  underfloor heating system
  •   •  sanitary fittings
  •   •  sockets & switches
  •   •  light fittings
  •   •  kitchen
  •   •  kitchen appliances
  •   •  wall finishes
  •   •  flooring

The approximate overall project cost includes the typical price for foundations & utility connections, Structural Engineers foundation design fees, Approved Inspector fees, Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), Structural Warranty, site insurance, transportation, crane, specialist lifting equipment, material storage, site fencing, welfare and waste removal.

This is only a guide price… although we can provide a fixed price for the building itself, site-specific factors will have an impact on the total cost, such as the site location, ground conditions (which will determine the type of foundations we use) and proximity to utility connections.

You can also select from a wide range of additional elements or options that will personalise your dwelle.ing – these additional cost items include:

  •   •  renewable energy systems such as PV solar panels or an air source heat pump
  •   •  rainwater harvesting (although we include the separate plumbing so this can be easily added in the future)
  •   •  PCM boards (that simulates thermal mass)
  •   •  a KNX automated building system (to control lighting, heating, blinds etc)
  •   •  triple glazing
  •   •  rooflights
  •   •  fitted furniture such as cupboards, desk and shelves

Please note that all of our costs may vary from time to time due to market conditions and general design development. Our prices don’t include land or VAT (but new homes are often zero-rated).

 

do I have to pay VAT?

VAT will need to be paid at the standard rate for commercial projects, but for new homes (if they meet the required criteria), they can be zero-rated.

This government web page www.gov.uk/vat-builders/new-homes gives a basic guide.

However, even if a new home does qualify as being zero-rated, you still have to pay VAT on some items that are not considered “building materials” (all pre-planning services, equipment hire (except security fencing), kitchen appliances (excluding the cooker hood), audio pack items, curtains & blinds, carpets & some planting).

Because we offer a Design & Build type service, you won’t be paying VAT on our consultancy services following planning approval, including architectural and structural engineers fees.

 

what other costs do I need to allow for?

There’s a number of costs associated with any building project, some are absolutely necessary whilst others simply reduce the risk of any potential problems. But if you’re spending excess of £50,000, you should ensure everything is done properly!

Here’s a brief list of the most common costs:

  1. site / plot of land – this is probably the biggest expense, obviously.
  2. site clearance – please bear in mind that a site may need to be cleared of existing structures or vegetation and made level, ready for the foundations.
  3. planning application – professional fees will be required to prepare the drawings, forms and design statements that form the application, plus the Local Planning Authority fees. A straightforward application for a single dwelle.ing on a plot shouldn’t cost more than £1,000, but any difficulties will result in additional costs. Some useful information can be found here.
  4. topographical site survey – depending on the proposed site we may need some accurate information on the exact dimensions, the levels and position of any existing trees, hedgerows and existing drainage.
  5. site investigation desk study – often described as Phase 1 of a site investigation, this forms the basis of the preliminary risk assessment – it can really save you money! More information on the www.ags.org.uk website.
  6. site investigation intrusive survey – Phase 2 of an investigation  – we’ll need this in order to understand the ground conditions and for our engineers to design the dwelle.ings foundations. If there is contamination on the site, further costs will be incurred through Phase 3 (Remediation) and Phase 4 (Validation) of the site.
  7. Party Wall Act notice – if the proposed dwelle.ing is on or close to a boundary, we may need to serve a notice to the owner of the land next door – full details are explained in this booklet.
  8. ground gas protection – radon and other ground gases, such as methane, are now more recognised as contributors to health and safety in buildings – if it’s present on your site (detected in a site investigation) then we need to ensure the building has sufficient protection.
  9. foundations and below ground services design – although our buildings are modular and are fixed in price, because every site is different, our engineers still have to design the foundations and how the buildings services connect to the drains etc. They’ll use the site investigation information to ensure the correct foundations are designed.
  10. utility connections – these costs will vary greatly – even if you go off-grid, you’ll still need to allow a cost for obtaining clean fresh water and a way to dispose of waste water and sewage.
  11. site insurance – it’s a statutory requirement to have insurance for a building site in the UK – construction sites are innately hazardous environments.
  12. building inspections – carried out by Approved Inspectors at key stages to ensure the construction meets Building Regulations.
  13. structural warranty – this isn’t absolutely necessary if you don’t have a mortgage lender that insists on there being a 10 year structural warranty, but it’s good peace of mind that you’re covered.
  14. energy performance calculations – you’ll need these to show the building meets Building Regulations.
  15. Passivhaus Certification – if the dwelle.ing you select is capable of meeting the very stringent Passivhaus criteria then there will be a cost for checking and certifying the building.
  16. airtightness test – this is required as part of the Passivhaus Certification and is becoming increasingly required for Building Regulations Approval.
  • Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of items and every project is different –  you should seek advice on your own specific project.
  •  

are dwelle.ings mortgageable?

Dwelle.ings fully comply with Building Regulations and have a lifespan of at least 60 years, and so if a project is granted permanent Planning Permission as a dwelling, they are potentially mortgageable with all lenders. You may need to consider a self-build mortgage type if you need to borrow money at different stages of the build process.

This website provides a very useful guide on financing a self-build project: http://www.selfbuildportal.org.uk/sources-of-finance

 

what foundations are required?

Our dwelle.ings sit on foundations appropriate for the specific site. These vary from basic concrete pad foundations to ground screws. Our Structural Engineer would arrange for a site investigation to be carried out and then design the necessary foundations.

how are services connected?

The original intention for the dwelle.ing is that it is completely independent and therefore off-grid and zero carbon. This is possible, but there is however an additional cost to incorporate renewable energy systems. We will design these specific to the site and number of dwelle.ings proposed.

Alternatively, you can easily connect to an existing electrical and water supply and drain into existing sewers, eco-digester system or a septic tank.

can we have a gas supply to a dwelle.ing?

Yes. Although gas is the least harmful of the fossil fuels to the environment (and is contributing to Climate Change), we’d prefer you to focus on alternative and renewable energy sources.

An Air-Source Heat Pump, combined with Solar PV panels which generate electricity together with a connection to a green energy provider (such as Good Energy), is an extremely efficient, cost effective and sustainable solution.

Our Air Source Heat Pump is a much cheaper and cleaner option, and is also supported under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)).

Instead of using gas for cooking, our latest induction hobs now make cooking far more efficient, safe and effective.

how are dwelle.ings powered?

The exact power specification for each dwelle.ing is determined depending on the site location, orientation and number of dwelle.ings being proposed. We use electricity and gas*.

The ideal type of energy generation would be from Solar PV (photovoltaic) panels. Some of our designs include these on the building itself, but we also have a Energy Shed that is covered in PV panels and plugs in to the main building to power it. We also use an Air-Source Heat Pump to create very cost effective hot water for both the water supply and underfloor heating.

Our buildings can be powered solely from the National Grid. Connecting to the grid and using renewable energy allows you to use the Feed-in Tariff.

If you do use the grid for your supply, please take care to find a supplier that supports renewable energy. We use Good Energy.

  • (*using gas maybe cheaper than electricity (from the grid) at the moment, but it’s a fossil fuel, and the carbon emissions from its extraction and use is a major contributor to Climate Change – our Air Source Heat Pump creates a much cheaper and cleaner option, and is supported under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI))

how mobile is a dwelle.ing?

Only our mobile dwelle.ing has been designed to meet the definition of a caravan and conforms to BS 3632-2005 (Residential Park Homes – Specification). This means it can be used as a permanent dwelling without having to comply with Building Regulations.

Our other dwelle.ings fully comply with Building Regulations as dwellings and non-dwellings. The smaller ones can be adapted to allow relocation, but will require a galvanised steel base. This however may impact on planning, letting or mortgage criteria.

Here is the full definition of a caravan:

Caravan definition

v1.1 2012

The definition of what constitutes a caravan is often misunderstood, and does not simply apply to accommodation with wheels attached that can be towed by a car or other means. So far as the law is concerned, a park/mobile home, a caravan holiday home, touring caravan or Gypsy and Traveller home are all capable of coming within the legal definition of a caravan provided they retain the element of mobility.

Mobility means that the caravan must be capable of being moved when assembled, from one place to another, or to a different site. The physical movement need not be by means of towing with a car or other vehicle. It may involve movement by specialist equipment such as lifting gear, lorry or low-loader. The crucial element is that to meet the definition of ‘caravan’, it may not be fixed to the ground. Permanent works, such as a large porch or extension, which fix the caravan to the ground could mean that a caravan no longer comes within the legal definition of a caravan and could as a consequence be treated as a building.

Where a caravan is permanently affixed to the ground, this potentially has serious planning, legal and contract implications for site owners and residents. Site owners could be in breach of planning permission for the site, and residents of park homes would lose their protection under the Mobile Home Act 1983.

The connection of mains water / electricity / sewerage or addition of cosmetic skirts that do not fix the accommodation to the ground do not prevent the accommodation from coming within the definition of a caravan.

LEGAL DEFINITION OF A CARAVAN

Section 29 (1) of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 a caravan is defined as

“… any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another (whether by being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer) and any motor vehicle so designed or adapted but does not include:

a) Any railway rolling stock which is for the time being on rails forming part of a railway system, or

b) Any tent.”

This definition was modified by Section 13 (1) of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 (“The 1968 Act”), which deals with twin-unit caravans. Section 13 (1) provides that a caravan is:

“A structure designed or adapted for human habitation which:

a) Is composed of not more than two sections separately constructed and designed to be assembled on a site by means of bolts, clamps or other devices;

and

b) Is, when assembled, physically capable of being moved by road from one place to another (whether by being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer), shall not be treated as not being (or not having been) a caravan within the meaning of Part 1 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 by reason only that it cannot lawfully be moved on a highway when assembled.”

Section 13(2) of the 1968 Act also prescribes the following maximum dimensions for “twin unit caravans”:

(a) length (exclusive of any drawbar); 60 feet (18.288 metres);

(b) width: 20 feet (6.096 metres);

(c) overall height of living accommodation (measured internally from the floor at the lowest level to the ceiling at the highest level): 10 feet (3.048 metres).

From 1 October 2006 in England The Caravan Sites Act 1968 and Social Landlords (Permissible Additional Purposes) (England) Order 2006 (Definition of Caravans) (Amendment) (England) Order 2006 [SI 2006 No 2374] further amended section 13(2) of the Caravan Sites Act 1968 by increasing the maximum dimensions of a structure that can be defined as a “twin unit caravan” to:

(a) length (exclusive of drawbar): 20.00 metres (65.616 feet);

(b) width 6.80 metres (22.309 feet);

(c) height: 3.05 metres (10.006 feet).

Subsequently these revised dimensions have also been adopted by the National Assembly for Wales.

Lettings Information

When considering whether or not lettings information falls within the statutory definition of a caravan, the Rent Officer must consider the actuality of the accommodation in question. The accommodation cannot be considered to be a building (such as a bungalow) unless it is physically and permanently affixed to the ground and is incapable of being moved.

Connection of services do not constitute permanent fixing of the accommodation as in most cases they can be simply disconnected to facilitate movement.

Similarly, brick skirts around the base of a mobile home would not constitute permanency if the accommodation could be moved using specialist apparatus.

If the accommodation was mounted on integral fixed foundations, then it could be said to be permanent. Similarly, if the accommodation exceeded a twin unit of the maximum dimensions in legislation, then it would fall outside the definition of a caravan.

what standards do they meet?

Wherever possible in a micro-building, we meet and often exceed building standards. These include the Building Regulations, NHBC Technical Standards, Code for Sustainable Homes, Secured by Design and Lifetime Homes.

can they meet the Code for Sustainable Homes?

The design and specification of the dwelle.ings will potentially meet Passivhaus and Code Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The exact standard achieved will depend on the specific dwelle.ing size, the site location, orientation of the building, the choice of renewable energy/heating system and whether the triple glazed windows option has been selected.

The U-value of the walls is 0.15 W/m²K, the elemental U-value of the windows is typically 0.76 W/m²K (depending on size) and the air leakage is no more than 0.75 m³/m²hr @ 50 Pa (0.6 air changes per hour).

The design of the smaller dwelle.ings are capable of performing up to Code Level 5, however there are difficulties in achieving the mandatory Fabric Energy Efficiency standards in the ENE 2 category. The difficulty arises due to an apparent anomaly in the SAP methodology that penalises relatively small detached buildings, even though they are highly insulated, air tight and thermally efficient.

The larger dwelle.ings could meet Passivhaus and actually surpass the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 and meet Code Level 6, with them also being Lifetime Homes compliant.

what is Passivhaus and do you meet this standard?

The principles of Passivhaus (sometimes spelt Passive House) are explained really well in this 90 second video…

For a more detailed explanation, please visit the BRE’s website.

Most of our dwelle.ings can meet this very high standard, the only time they won’t is when triple glazing isn’t included as an option, some form of renewable energy isn’t used and when the floor area is much smaller than the surface area of the building. We find that when the dwelle.ing has a very large double height space, as fantastic as it is to have this height, the heating calculations don’t work in our favour.

what about fire safety?

Timber frame buildings meet all fire standards required under the current Building Regulations. Insurance and financial institutions do not differentiate between timber frame and masonry construction.

what is the lifespan of a dwelle.ing

It is no different to a typical timber frame building, which has the same life expectancy as brick and block buildings. Timber frame buildings are described as permanent structures.

does a dwelle.ing have a Structural Warranty?

The full design and construction of our dwelle.ings are covered by a third party insurance backed ten-year Structural Warranty.

is there anything else I need to know…?

If there is, please pick up the phone and call us (0161 225 4000).

There could be a few things we’re not sure about either, but if we can’t answer any of your queries, please be assured, we’ll find out and get straight back to you.