Choosing an agent

You may want to select an agent to help with your planning application. Some agents will deal with the full planning process whilst others will just prepare drawings plans and maps.

You should choose an agent who is familiar with the planning process. We are unable to recommend an agent for you.

There are lots of professions who can deal with your planning application and we’ve created a list to help you choose what sort of help you need.

Planning agents

Planning agents help you by:

  • giving you advice on the planning process
  • drawing up plans
  • submitting applications on your behalf

If an agent sends us an application on your behalf, we will correspond directly with them.

The Royal Town Planning Institute has a list of all registered agents.


Architects oversee and manage the building project. They are involved from first design through to completion of the project.

They concentrate on the appearance of the project and how it fits in with the surrounding environment.

They will look to combine the best materials, systems and working practices into their final design whilst supplying the highest standard of building to you as the client.

You can only use the title architect if you are registered with The Architects Registration Board (ARB).

You can search the Architects Register online here.


There are several types of surveyors, for example:

  • building surveyor
  • quantity surveyor
  • land surveyor

A surveyor’s role is to measure, quantify and calculate distances or objects.

They use these calculations to:

  • assess project costs
  • provide a site with a valuation for a building project

They may also assess the project at its various stages to ensure that the project is meeting the relevant design and regulations.

They will concentrate on the practicality of the structure rather than its appearance.

Surveyors must be members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

You can search for a RICS chartered surveyor online.

Building engineers

The term engineer is generic and can cover a variety of disciplines.

For example, you may ask a building engineer to design a specific part of a project such as the roof structure or its foundations.  They look at supports, loads and building materials and make sure that any building design is structurally sound.

Architects often use building engineers to tackle a specific challenge on a building project. The architect will incorporate the engineer’s designs into the final design.

You can search The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) for a building engineer.

Builders and other tradesmen

Once the design of the project is finalised you would need to contact a builder and other tradesmen.

If you are employing an architect or surveyor they can help you with your choices. They will invite builders to tender for the work and draw up a contract.

The government’s TrustMark scheme helps guarantee standards and protection to the customer. If a firm is TrustMark registered, it is working to a code of practice that gives you greater protection.

Things to check

To choose the right person for your job you should:

  • check if they are a member of a recognised professional institution
  • check if they are part of a local practice
  • look at earlier projects
  • ask for reference and examples of their work
  • look for recommendations from friends or neighbours

Once you’ve chosen the person you should agree in writing what their responsibilities are. For example, do you want them to prepare plans or is site supervision included.

You should get more than one quote and chose the one which feels best. Choosing someone based on being cheapest could result in more expenses later in the project if they are unsuitable.

You must check what permissions you need. Will you need both Planning and Building Regulation approval and if so, will any quote include amending plans to get these approvals?

If you think your job is small enough that you do not need a professional then we suggest you get advice from someone within the construction industry that you know and trust.

At your first meeting you should talk to your chosen agent about

  • their fee
  • the frequency of progress updates
  • how they will inform you of quality or cost changes
  • what information they need from you before they start work

Once you have agreed, your agent should record this in writing and the contract should say:

  • what work they will do
  • the fee or how they will calculate this
  • what everyone’s responsibilities are
  • the type and value of professional indemnity insurance they hold
  • what any dispute process is

If you are employing an accredited professional, they should make you aware of their complaints procedure and any routes of redress you have.