With ever increasing house prices and the hefty cost of moving, many homeowners are opting to stay put and add an extension to their home.
Before getting over excited and choosing your new kitchen or furniture, there are some important aspects to consider to ensure an extension is right for you.
With over 36 years’ experience in the building trade, we’ve put together a list of 8 things you need to think about before embarking on a house extension.
1. Why do you want an extension?
First and foremost, establish what you want to achieve with your house extension. Popular reasons to extend are:
- Additional living space, particularly for growing families
- Rearranging living space to fit lifestyle (for example, a home office, extra bedroom or gym)
- Home improvement
- Need extra space until you can afford to move
- Add value to the home
Deciding what your extension will be used for is crucial. It will determine budget, time scale and quality. If you intend to stay in your home long-term, you should aim for better quality fixtures and fittings than if you are planning to move house in the next few years.
2. What type of extension do you want?
The most popular extensions are built to the side – or sometimes the back – of the house, either single storey or a two storey extension. However, loft conversions are on the rise. If you have the option to convert your loft, you might be able to get an extra room without any visual external impact.
Small improvements to the front of your house, such as the addition of a porch, can not only give you much needed extra space, but also improve the look of your home. This type of extension, in particular, needs to be in keeping with the rest of the home, for example roof pitch.
3. Budgeting for an extension
Budget is fundamental to your project. Before you do anything else, work out how much you can realistically afford to spend on your extension. Remember to include extras such as planning application (if applicable) architect, structural engineer, and building inspector fees, and leave some extra for emergencies in case anything goes wrong or needs to be changed.
It is worth noting that it is usual in the building industry for prices to be quoted net of VAT. Therefore, you will need to add on VAT for builders’ fees, materials, building control fees and professional fees. Also, you should include costs of furniture and decorating in your budget.
Be realistic financially, and only take on a project that you can comfortably afford. Professionals will try to bring your project in under budget with the best value, but this is only possible if you are honest about what you have available to spend.
4. How long does it take to build an extension?
This will partly depend on the type of extension, but no house extension happens overnight so you will need to be patient.
Time factors to consider:
- Survey and design time
- Planning process
- Obtaining planning permission and building regulations approval
- Finding a builder
- Builder availability
- Time of year (rain and sub zero temperatures can delay work)
- Size and complexity of the project
Plan ahead as far as possible. This will give you time to get everything in place ready for the work to begin.
5. Will you need planning permission?
Whether or not you need planning permission will depend on the type and size of your extension. For some loft conversions, porches, sun rooms or single storey extensions, you might not need planning, as these may fall under ‘Permitted Development’, but for others you will. Two storey extensions will require planning permission. It is vital to check all local planning regulations and requirements before starting any building work. If you fail to apply for planning permission before building an extension, you could be heavily fined and ordered to remove the building work.
If you do need planning permission, your local council will put your plans on the Planning Register for public viewing, and your neighbours will be notified. Neighbours can object to the plans, or aspects of them, so it is a good idea to talk to neighbours about your plans as early as possible to get them on board.
6. What are Building Regulations?
More often than not, you will need to make sure your extension complies with the Government’s Building Regulations. Building Regulations are different to Planning Permission, and are related to the design and construction of buildings. For domestic buildings, these regulations cover health and safety rules, and fuel and power conservation requirements. Detailed plans of the proposed extension need to be submitted to your Local Planning Authority, along with an application form and fee.
Inspections may be made during the building process, and a final inspection takes place when the extension is completed. If everything complies, a certificate of completion is issued.
7. Services and sustainability
Will the extension affect your electricity, gas, water or drainage? Do the meters need to be moved? Is the extension over drainage? If so, a “build over sewer” application may be needed from the local water board.
Can your extension be sustainable and lower your running costs? Consider insulation, energy efficient windows and doors, ground source or air source heat pumps, and upgrading your boiler and radiators.
8. Use a reputable builder
That’s where we come in! Lelliotts Enterprises has over 36 years’ experience in the building trade. Of course, we would recommend ourselves, but whoever you choose, make sure they are professional and reputable. Ask for testimonials from previous customers and, if practical, take a first-hand look at previous work to check the quality.
- Avoid cowboy builders. They may charge less, but will cut corners and perform sub-standard work that could end up costing you more in the long run
- Complete a proper contract with your builder
- Agree a timetable. This will need to include some flexibility to cover eventualities such as bad weather and availability of materials
- Make sure all building supplies are included within the quote
- Remember it is your project and your money, so if you have questions do not be afraid to ask
To sum up
Adding an extension to your property can be costly, but it will also add value to your home if done properly. And if you are staying put, an extension can give much needed space, helping you to avoid the cost of moving.
We have many years of experience in the building trade. Why not give us a call and get your extension project started!